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

Riders victorious in BBL Cup final classic

Leicester Riders claimed their first piece of silverware in more than a decade after an 85-80 victory over the Newcastle Eagles in a thrilling BBL Cup Final.

Jay Couisnard earned the MVP award with a 19 point haul which included a pivotal spell in the third quarter when the rookie drained a trio of triples.

Leicester led for the majority of the game and withheld a late fightback from the Eagles as Fab Flournoy’s men never gave up on the defence of their title. Joe Chapman led all scorers with 27 points but was unable to inspire his side to a fifth consecutive trophy in the BBL.

Darius Defoe and Anthony Rowe opened the scoring for their respective sides and the first score from beyond the arc came from Drew Sullivan which gave the Riders their first lead at 7-6. Another soon followed from the GB international before five points in quick succession from Jamell Anderson helped Leicester into a 20-17 lead at the end of the first.

Chapman fired the Eagles back in front from downtown but Rob Paternostro’s men battled back and dominated the next few minutes to open up a double-digit advantage. The defending champions could only narrowly cut the deficit whilst keeping their opponents scoreless in the final 1:51 of the half where the score was 45-36 in favour of the Riders.

Newcastle were able to close the gap when play resumed and whittled their arrears to just four points through the combination of Chapman and Damon Huffman. Couisnard responded with eleven of his side’s next thirteen points; finding the net from long range on three occasions as Leicester now led 65-51 with one quarter remaining.

Charles Smith and Chapman stepped up at the start of the fourth but their triples were countered by baskets from Pavol Losonsky, Jorge Calvo and Rowe to keep the Eagles at bay. Anderson replied to another three from Chapman with his second of the night which helped the youngster towards 15 points on a perfect 100% shooting display from the field.

With less than five minutes remaining the Riders’ lead was still in double figures before Newcastle launched their fightback. Flournoy’s basket capped a 10-0 spell to tie the game at 78; setting up a tense finale with 90 seconds still to go.

The player-coach then put his side into the lead with another two points, after Rowe could only make 1 out of 2 from the line, before Zaire Taylor struck a vital blow with a crucial three pointer as the game headed into the final minute.

Sullivan came up with a huge block on Smith and while Chapman and Huffman couldn’t connect from 3-point range, Rowe and Calvo sealed Leicester’s victory from the line for their FIRST trophy since winning the double in 2001.

While the Riders may have struggled from the charity stripe, a 50% success rate from long range is an impressive statistic especially considering their opponents’ struggles as Newcastle only found the net on seven occasions from 35 attempts which contributed to a sub-par 37% field goal percentage.

The rivalry between the two sides looks set to continue in 2013 with both teams level at the top of the Championship standings as well as being in the last eight of the BBL Trophy.

The Cup final was preceeded by an international friendly between England and Ireland which finished 83-80 to the men in green. The kickz.co.uk BBL Slam Dunk contest was won by Ukranian Dmitry Krivenko.