Last night saw Paul Douglas’ Birmingham Knights produce a hard fought effort at home against the Newcastle Eagles – not enough to pick up a first win, but plenty to suggest there is more to come in future seasons.
Tying the game at half-time, it was safe to say that they, alongside Surrey United, have made a progressive improvement from the first tip back on Saturday 28th September.
Mersey Tigers, last season, had the unenviable accolade of going 0-35 – the first winless season ever in the history of the BBL, but now the Knights are on the verge of joining them in that club.
A former Mersey Tiger in Josh Lockett was a welcome addition, but despite the chance to pick up a win against Surrey United in the series between them, they failed to do so – although Douglas’ men went awfully close to changing that with a slender four-point defeat against the London Lions back at the start of March.
With the progress during this latter part of the season, head coach of the league’s newest side feels there’s a definite distinction between his Knights and the Tigers, when speaking with him shortly after some his players turned out for last month’s England Select side at the BBL Trophy Final in Glasgow.
“I never saw the [Mersey] Tigers play last year, but I think the difference is that we’ve got players who can score, and with track records; I must admit I didn’t recognise many of the names from the Tigers last year, but we have players who people recognise,” Douglas began by saying.
One other element he believes is key in comparing, is the strength of this year’s teams: “The difference is the league is far more competitive than it was last year, it’s tough, but the one thing we have is a lot of rookies and it goes to prove that with so many rookies, it’s a tough league to be in.”
He admitted though, that perhaps a lack of league experience has been, at times, a disadvantage, but knows the players he has had at disposal can use that to progress further: “We need to support those players coming through with some quality players and some veterans of the league as well, which is what we’ve lacked this year, but it is what it is. At the same time, we have a year’s worth of players with BBL experience and they can pass it on to those who may come in next year.
“It’s always been our aim to build and make some additions, and we might still lose some games, but this year, the guys have learnt a lot from it.”
Now his side have just two games left in which to prevent history repeating itself, tonight against Cheshire Phoenix, and a final home game against Durham Wildcats next Saturday – the question is, does Douglas feel they can still do it?
“I hope so, we can definitely do it, so long as the guys work really hard and execute what we’ve done in training, a win is still there.”