Preview: WBBL Begins and D1 Men face the Dragons
It's a big day for Wolves Basketball on Saturday as both senior teams are due to simultaneously play league games for the first time this season.
The women will finally get their WBBL season off the ground as they host Newcastle Eagles (game behind closed doors) while the men travel to Nottingham to face Bradford Dragons in NBL Division One.
After several aborted starts, coach Lee Ryan can't wait for his side to get back into league action after a seemingly never-ending break: “The time has finally come that we get to play a competitive game in nearly a year!" he said. "It’s been a really difficult time for the players; to be ready to play for four months and constantly be disappointed on game day, but now we have to put that behind us and have a good showing this weekend."
Eagles were challenging for the title when the WBBL was suspended in March 2020, with one of their 11 wins having come at Oaklands, but they have struggled this season having lost all four league games and finished with a 1-2 record in the Cup.
Despite that, Ryan is expecting a difficult game: "Newcastle are always a tough side, they have some individuals that can win games by themselves so we will need to do a job on them to come away with a positive result. "No matter who comes out on top, basketball is the winner along with all those that have made it possible for the WBBL to continue safely.”
After collecting two wins last weekend, men's coach Thomas Baker is looking for his side to continue their improved form when they face Bradford: “While it was good to pick our first wins as an organisation in D1 there is a lot for us still to improve on, particularly at the defensive end" he said.
"We cannot continue to give up the volume of points we are and expect to be in basketball games. This requires improvements from all of us including myself. Looking to Saturday, we know what to expect from Bradford, they proved to be tough opposition when they came to us, but I believe we have what it takes to play the style of basketball we want this weekend and make improvements on the team we want to be.” As Baker mentions, the sides met at Oaklands in early December with the visitors winning 89-85 in a game that saw an incredible 65 fouls and 86 free throws. Dragons are sixth in the Division One table with a 3-3 record and face a L Lynch Trophy quarter-final trip to Loughborough on Sunday.
Chris Mellor's side have lost the use of their venue after it became a Covid-19 vaccination centre, and they have become the fourth side to use Nottingham Wildcats Arena alongside the WBBL hosts, hometown Hoods and fellow Division One side Derby Trailblazers.