WITH just over a week until the new BBL season, Durham Wildcats step up their preparations when they take on Newcastle Eagles in the North-East Cup tomorrow.
The Wildcats welcome the reigning champions to the Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre hoping to put the finishing touches to their plans for the 2012/13 season.
It will be the Durham outfits’ second year in the BBL Championship and, having finished bottom last time, head coach Dave Elderkin is looking for an improvement.
“Last year was a very steep learning curve,” Elderkin said. “Not so much for me but for the players. The BBL doesn’t have a lot of rookies these days.
“They’re all looking to recruit some vets and all our guys are rookies.
“The learning curve this year won’t be as steep. We’ve already played Sheffield Sharks in pre-season.
“Last year we got killed by them and lost by 30 points but we took them to 11 the other night.
“Once the Americans and Europeans get used to the way we play here we’ll be fine.”
Elderkin has made several changes to his squad and welcomes six new signings in the form of American duo Brad Guillane and Andrew Keister, European pair Mike Baldarelli and Mark Reynolds, Sam Johnson, an American-born British passport holder and former Cheshire Jets guard Keith Page.
The Wildcats coach has also retained the services of Paul Elderkin and Ralph Bucci, who both starred last season, and he believes the squad he has assembled can improve on last season.
He said: “I think the squad is stronger in depth. It’s certainly going to be better prepared, because we’ve learned from last year and we’re trying to sort out the things now that caused us problems for a few months at the start last year. It’s definitely got the potential to develop into a better squad.
“We’ve learned from our mistakes and this year we’ll be better prepared. Preparation is the key, if you’re not prepared you can’t expect to do well in this league.
“We didn’t get the strength and conditioning right. We were nowhere near other teams.
“The difference between EBL1 and BBL is huge and it’s a gulf we didn’t even think about. We just thought if our basketball side was good that would be the most important thing, but it wasn’t.
“We arrived into last season so out of shape and as the season went on it got hard for the team physically.”
- Wildcats take on Newcastle Eagles tomorrow night at 7pm at Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre. Tickets, available on the door, are £8 adults and £4 concessions.