Nottinghamshire’s premier basketball side, the Nottingham Hoods, who play in the National Basketball League Division One, have had a decent, first half to the current campaign.
Here, Head Coach Ben Stanley, looked back on all that has happened, and ahead as to what is to come, on-court, for the Hoods.
“The new look Nottingham Hoods entered the 2021-22 season with a new roster, new aspirations, and a new ethos,” Ben told the Nottingham Sport.
“With an almost entirely new roster including the likes of last year’s league leading scorer Morakinyo Williams and last year’s assist leader Kyle Jiminez, dynamic guard Johde Campbell, Nottingham pro Joshua Guddemi, plus the return of Victor Olarerin and hometown favourite Luke Mitchell the team sports a very different look.
“Fans have also enjoyed seeing Hoods’ two Americans; speedster Logan Bailey and sharpshooting Andrew Vickers, whilst the young, but exciting talents, Moyo Adekeye, Diogo Soares and Jacob Cirtautas, round out a roster with a distinctly international feel.
“The Team started the season with a three-game run in the L Lynch Trophy, taking convincing wins against Loughborough Riders, Charnwood College and Leicester Warriors.
“The Hoods also continued their run into the League, posting victories against Loughborough and Essex, before a clash against last year’s runners-up Thames Valley Cavaliers, before seeing themselves down by 18 points at the break to the talented London Club, facing real adversity for the first time.
“They responded with resilience and resourcefulness, locking in on defence to put up a 33-16 third quarter and bringing the game back into contention; Jiminez posted all of his fourteen points during this period.
“With five players scoring in double figures, the Hoods would be seen to go on to win by 11 points, proving their heart and ability to contend at the top of the table.
“Their next challenge was an away trip to Reading Rockets, a team that has similarly re-tooled this season and looks to be in the mix of the top competing teams.
“This was a much more back-and-forth affair, with both teams trading throughout the game, neither being able to hit hard enough to put the other away; a frenetic, final five minutes, would see the Hoods hold on to seal the game, four consecutive free throws from Luke Mitchell sealing the deal for the visitors.
“The Hoods then faced local rivals Derby in the L Lynch Trophy.
“Eventual Trophy winners Derby posted an excellent first half, hitting 8/11 from the 3-point range and leaving Hoods stunned.
“While The Hoods fought back in the second half, they could not overcome the deficit and Derby would be seen to hand the Hoods their first defeat of the season.
“This would be followed by a tough away trip to Team Newcastle University, a team with a lot of fire power that has made a habit of fourth quarter come-back wins.
“Up by seven and going into the last, the Hoods became Newcastle’s latest victim, and despite 22 points from Williams and a further 19 from Vickers; Newcastle would drop 39 points in that fourth quarter as the Hoods defence collapsed, allowing the Uni side to hand out a first defeat in the league.
“The following weekend would a trip to Barking Abbey London Lions, a young but talented side that has performed very well this season.
“With Mo Williams and Logan Bailey not available the Hoods never seemed to find their rhythm, despite a promising start.
“The Lions continued to chip away, taking a one point lead going into the fourth before an excellent fourth quarter that saw the Hoods lose in the league for a second time.
“Needing to rebound after a tough losing streak, the Hoods would face a serious challenge as they met the Derby Trailblazers side that had handed them their first, and largest defeat of the campaign.
“Derby came out with the same energy and intensity, taking an early lead and putting Hoods backs against the wall.
“Hoods came out defiant, showing relentless energy and executing as a team; a 23 point, 13 rebound game from Williams alongside a 16 point, 10 rebound, 4 assist, 3 steal effort, from Campbell helped Hoods get back to winning ways against a tough Derby Team.
“The Hoods would finish against Worthing Thunder, making the long trip South with only seven players available (due to injury and COVID protocols).
“Despite they being short-handed, the Hoods showed up to play, executing their offence well as Williams put up 10 straight points to start the game, going on to have 30 overall; 16 apiece from Vickers and Guddemi, and a season high 11 assists form Jiminez, just wasn’t enough, Worthing’s high-powered offence guided them to a win, 100-93.
“The Hoods enter the New Year with a game against Loughborough Riders.
“Despite good performances against Loughborough to start the season, the Hoods know this will be no easy task.
“New pick-ups in Justin Hedley and Klodian Muca will have a real impact on the game, while long time veteran Harrison Gamble will look to steady his side.
“New Coach Will Maynard will certainly be looking to start the year off with a win and the Hoods will be looking for big performances from the high-flying Olarerin, in his return from COVID, the lightning quick, Bailey, and defensive maestro, Mitchell.
“We’ve made some big changes this year, and a lot of those changes were difficult decisions, but we saw a window of opportunity as a club and we have gone for it.
“I’ve been so impressed by the way in which the team has bonded, and they are a great group of guys to be around.
“We’ve got to be more consistent in our focus though if we want to compete in what is an incredibly talented league this year.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge and I cannot wait to get back on court this weekend against a Loughborough and see what we can do.”
In a return to action, the Nottingham Hoods will take to the court on Saturday 8 January, when they make the trip to Loughborough University, top-off at 20:00; this will be followed by a pair of home games, at the Wildcats Arena, on the 15 & 16 January, hosting first the Essex Rebels, then the Oakland Wolves.
Tickets are available on the door, or via the Groupon app, where you can also find deals and family tickets.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @AdamDawson the Hoods had a decent first half to the 2021/22 season.