Creekmore strengthens Wolves’ will to win

Creekmore joining the Wolfpack for 2013-14

Creekmore joining the Wolfpack for 2013-14

Worcester Wolves have confirmed the signing of American centre Will Creekmore and their new recruit is looking forward to a new challenge.

“I’m extremely excited about playing with the Wolves this season. The BBL is a competitive league in a great country and I’m excited to help the team compete for a title,” Creekmore said.

The 24 year-old becomes head-coach Paul James‘ 4th new signing and is delighted to have a chance to shine with Worcester.

He said: “The BBL is an up and coming league and I think that it’s well on its way to being one of the top leagues in Europe.

“The chance to be a key contributor on a team that has the pieces to play at a very high level was really attractive to me and I think that Coach James and I are definitely on the same page about doing what it takes to win.”

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Gamble looking to stake his claim at Leicester

Riders-LogoLeicester Riders have confirmed their TENTH summer signing in 21 year-old Harrison Gamble.

The 6’10” forward/centre spent last season in Spain where he averaged 9.4 points per game along with 4.9 rebounds for Sant Josep Girona.

Gamble also has previous experience of playing in the UK having spent four seasons with the Reading Rockets and is looking forward to his next big challenge with the defending champions.

Last season’s treble-winners have comfortably announced more signings than any other BBL club so far with three new recruits joining seven players all committed to re-signing for the Riders.

Gamble joins fellow British youngsters Jamell Anderson and Connor Washington while Drew Sullivan, Barry Lamble and Anthony Rowe are the other returning Brits. Spaniard Jorge Calvo re-signs for a second year as does American Jay Couisnard, who is now accompanied by two new compatriots in 23 year-olds Rashad Hassan and Anthony Downing.

Check out Leicester Riders’ profile page on Buzzer Beater with an in-depth look at their summer transactions.

Owumi reflects on first season with Worcester

Alex Owumi has agreed to extend his spell in the BBL after his return to Worcester Wolves was announced for the 2013-14 season.

The news will provide an early boost for Paul James and Wolves fans alike after seeing Owumi light up the league in his first season in the BBL. The 29 year-old finished the season as the 2nd highest points scorer in the league with 688 at an average of 19.7 points per game. Continue reading

Riders dominate end of season awards

Riders_Horse_LogoLeicester Riders completed a historic treble this season and their dominance was reflected in the end of season awards.

The Coach of the Year accolade was claimed by Rob Paternostro for the second time while the player equivalent was also won for a second time by Drew Sullivan.

Riders’ head-coach first won the award in 2008-09 – his first season in charge at the club – and then led his side to their best season last year but a first club Championship and treble tops the lot.

Sullivan led the way for Leicester in numerous departments and his defensive intensity set the tone for his side as they became renowned for the defensive strength throughout the season. The 33 year-old, who captained GB at last year’s Olympics, had a stellar campaign, finishing as the club’s leading scorer with 509 points at an average of 14.5 ppg whilst also averaging 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

The Player of the Year was joined in the BBL team of the Year by team-mate Jay Couisnard, who finished as the runner-up in the MVP voting and also earned the Cup Final MVP award in January. The American was a decisive factor in a number of games for the Riders, in particular their overtime victory in Manchester when Couisnard netted two buzzer-beaters to get the win.

Travis Holmes finished the season in sensational form which helped him take third in the MVP race whilst taking a place in the team of the year.  The Surrey Heat guard and twin of Chavis, finished with an impressive 20.6 ppg average helped by an incredible 44 point haul against Cheshire.

The final two spots on the team of the year were taken by Kareem Maddox and Matt Schneck who had a personal battle in the stakes for the best rebounder. It was the BBL rookie who came out on top with an average of 10.7 per game while Schneck complimented a healthy 16.5 points per game with an average of 10.1 rebounds.

The Americans were both ‘walking double-doubles’ for their teams with the Plymouth Raiders’ centre opening the season with 10 straight games with double-figures in points and rebounds while Maddox produced arguably the stat-line of the season with 26p/20r/4a/3st/4bl against Surrey in a run of ten straight double-doubles.

The BBL also announced the British team of the Year and Defensive team of the Year and they were both as follows:

British Team– Orlan Jackman; Drew Sullivan; Sam Cricelli; Anthony Rowe and Mike Tuck
Defensive Team– Chavis Holmes; Jay Couisnard; Zaire Taylor; Drew Sullivan and Kareem Maddox

Here are some of the crucial stats from the season via the BBL and Sporting Pulse.

Most points: Charles Smith– 691; Best average: Chez Marks– 22.8;
Most in a game: Charles Smith– 49 v Durham
Best FG%: Demetrius Jemison– 61*; Best 3PT%: Arnas Kazlauskas– 44.6*;
Best FT%: BJ Holmes– 88.3*
Most FG made: Charles Smith– 261; Most 3PT made: Joe Chapman– 108;
Most FT made: Tayo Ogedengbe– 134
Most rebounds: Kareem Maddox– 376; Best avge: Kareem Maddox– 10.7;
Most in a game: Kareem Maddox– 20 v Surrey
Most assists: Joe Chapman– 201; Best average: Ralph Bucci– 5.5
Most steals: Chavis Holmes– 95; Best average: Travis Holmes– 3.0
Most blocks: Alif Bland– 76; Best average: Alif Bland– 2.4
Most double-doubles: Matt Schneck– 22;
Triple-doubles:  Ralph Bucci v London (10p/11r/12a) & Joe Chapman v Durham (18p/10r/11a)

*minimum 100 attempts

Chapman revelling in new role and now wants Play-offs glory

Joe Chapman has always been the go to man for the Newcastle Eagles, but now the reigning MVP is more than happy to be creating chances for his team-mates after taking on a new role this season.

“I’ve had to be more of a leader and assist and it’s been great making others better. It was challenging learning a new role, but it was fun at the same time!” the 28 year-old admitted.

The adjustment has certainly not restricted Chapman’s scoring prowess. Just ask Newcastle’s play-off opponents, Sheffield. They were on the receiving end of an incredible 41 point display back in January after the Eagle shot 10-16 from 3-point range. Probably the best example of how productive the new role has been, was Chapman’s triple-double – a rare sight in the BBL – after an impressive stat-line of 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Durham.

Chapman finished the regular season with 489 points at an average of 15.3 points per game, behind Charles Smith (21.2) and Darius Defoe (15.7) in the team scoring charts, while BBL rookies Kareem Maddox (15.1) and Damon Huffman (14.7) both also averaged 10+ ppg. As well as being a reliable and consistent scorer, Chapman dished out 176 assists at an average of 5.5, bettered only by Surrey Heat’s Chavis Holmes.

The American guard was given a well earned rest in Newcastle’s final league game and the Eagles will hope their star man will return ‘fully charged’ ahead of their play-off clash with Sheffield this weekend. The defending BBL Play-Off champions have been plagued with injuries throughout the season, but Chapman has stepped up for his team, competing in over 1,000 minutes on court.

Looking ahead to the battle with the Sharks, Chapman is expecting a tough game and insists his side have to improve on their home form if they are to progress.

“Sheffield are a good team in great form at the moment so it’s important we play with a sense of urgency and play well at home on Friday which is something we haven’t done all year.”

Newcastle had a poor run of games at Sport Central in February and March when Cheshire, Surrey and Plymouth inflicted three straight home defeats on Fab Flournoy’s men. Sheffield lost in their only visit to Tyneside in January but will return full of confidence following a rewarding transformation having began their campaing with just two wins in their opening 10 league games.

Atiba Lyons was awarded the coach of the month award for March after leading his side to the BBL Trophy title and sealing a play-off spot before finishing the season with a 17-16 record. The Sharks claimed an 80-70 victory against the Eagles last week in a play-off dress rehearsal and also bolster two former Eagles, Andrew Bridge and Olu Babalola amongst their ranks, who will know full well what response to expect from the Eagles come crunch time.

“They play with a lot of energy and we have to match that! They also have a few players that have played for our organisation so they know our plays pretty well and it will come down to our energy,” added Chapman.

Since 2005, Newcastle have won 17 titles including the play-offs on five occasions but failed to win anything in 2010-11 and will want to avoid a repeat this season. Chapman feels it is unfair to compare last year’s achievement of the clean sweep with this year and praised his side for their efforts in a tough campaign.

“We have a few new guys who have never been champions before so going 26-8 is great. With injuries and only playing 11 games together as a whole unit, I think we did pretty well.”

Darius Defoe and Anthony Martin were the only two players to feature in every game with Smith, Huffman, Maddox and Flournoy all missing several games due to injury while Chapman was rested against Leicester on Sunday.

Leicester Riders completed the clean sweep over Newcastle with a win on the final day and were also victorious in their battle with the Eagles to win the BBL Cup. Rob Paternostro’s men completed the season with a perfect 17-0 home record whilst winning 30 games in total. Chapman acknowledged their achievements and gave his verdict on who he feels should be given the BBL League MVP award.

“Leicester has had a great season and what I like about them, is they share the ball and play great defence. Their whole team deserves MVP recognition because I believe team success brings individual success but there can only be one so I’d give MVP to either Drew Sullivan or Jay (Couisnard) because they have both played great in big games.”

Chapman also paid tribute to his 37 year-old team-mate Smith, who he described as still being one of the best in the league whilst recognising Alex Owumi’s great season in Worcester.

Do you agree with Joe Chapman’s verdict, who would get your vote for MVP?

And will the Eagles, as Chapman desires, be the last team standing with the Play-Offs trophy aloft at Wembley Arena on April 28th?