Chris Bunten insists his fast-improving roster would be wrong to underestimate Essex Rebels ahead of tomorrow’s winnable WBBL Championship clash.
But the Newcastle coach is excited to see how his players react to last weekend’s battling defeat at the hands of all-conquering Sevenoaks Suns.
Bunten is back on Tyneside following a flying visit to the US in his role as Northumbria University Sport’s recruitment chief.
And he returned to find a locker room full of confidence ahead of this weekend’s big match at the Eagles Community Arena.
“Essex may not have won a game in any competition yet but results don’t tell the true story,” he explained.
“They have plenty of talent and they’re a good team. We need to focus and ensure that we don’t take them lightly.
“The one thing I’m not worried about is any hangover from last Sunday’s defeat. It was a loss but the performance was a huge improvement on the last time the two teams met.
“The players enjoyed working with Marc Steutel and took plenty of positives out of a strong display against a very good side.”
One area of concern for Bunten is close-season signing Lisa Koop’s mounting foul count as the German star continues to find her feet in the WBBL.
A veteran of European basketball’s most competitive leagues, the towering centre dwarfs most opponents in the UK.
But the 6ft 6in star has also attracted the attention of league officials – clocking up 17 fouls in just four games.
“It’s frustrating for Lisa and for everyone else,” added Bunten. “But she’s new to the league and is still working out what she can do.
“It doesn’t help when she finds herself under serious pressure and nothing is called. The next minute she’s being penalised.
“It was a source of frustration for Lisa, Marc and her team-mates last weekend. I’ve watched the video and I can understand why.
“But she is a very experienced player and kept her cool. That’s all she can do. And she has 100% support from her team-mates and the coaching staff.”
Bunten and Steutel have been friends and colleagues for a number of years now and the former was delighted that the latter was able to step in and coach Newcastle against the Suns.
“Marc did a great job as I knew he would and he introduced one or two new things that we’ll be working on moving forward,” added Bunten.
“The players enjoyed working with him and Marc loved his time with the team.
“I never like being away from the team but they were in the safest of hands.”
Tomorrow’s clash against the Rebels tips off at 4pm and entry is just £6: