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

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February Statistical Review in the BBL

35 games played. 16 victories on the road. 2 unbeaten teams. Two 40 point hauls. A double-OT thriller and a BBL Trophy semi-final.

The Molten BBL Coach of the Month award was given to Paul James after guiding his Worcester Wolves side to 5th in the league after six wins from six in FebruaryWorcester have boosted their top four hopes with five straight wins in the league and also progressed to the last four of the BBL Trophy. The 94-88 victory in Newcastle was their stand-out win but the Wolves have also completed double-duty for the last two weekends in which a victory was achieved after two additional periods against the London Lions. Alex Owumi (16p/10r/8a) and Carlos Fernandez (14p/10r/7a) both came close to achieving the rare feat in the BBL of a triple-double.

Rob Paternostro came close to winning the award for the second month running as the Leicester Riders also went 6-0 in February to maintain their place at the top of the standings. The Riders set up a semi-final clash with Worcester after going to Guildford to beat Surrey Heat 82-66. The league leaders’ defence continues to make a difference and Leicester managed to hold their opponents to an average of 60 points a game during the month and winning by 14.1 points on average.

At the other end of the spectrum, Surrey are in a poor run of form having slipped to sixth place in the league after such a bright start with Creon Raftopoulos‘ men losing all four league games this month. Mersey Tigers also suffered defeat in every league game in February as their quest for a first victory drags on. Glasgow had enjoyed a five game winning streak before falling to a 76-72 defeat at home to Leicester but are still level on points with Plymouth. The play-off race continues with London, Sheffield, Manchester, Cheshire and Durham all battling it out for the seventh and eighth spots. Phoenix and the Wildcats both went 1-5 for February while the Lions picked up 8 points from seven games, the Giants won two from five and Sheffield maintained 8th place with a 2-1 record for the month whilst opening up a 14 point lead in their Trophy semi-final against Cheshire.

Newcastle Eagles’ Kareem Maddox claimed the Molten BBL Player of the Month for the second time after a dominant February, averaging 21.6 points per game along with 13 rebounds per game. The BBL rookie tied his season-high points tally with 29 against the Cheshire Phoenix and ended the month with a monster double-double of 26 points and 20 rebounds whilst adding four assists, three steals and four blocks to an incredible stat-line. Maddox is having a stellar season with the Eagles and the American currently averages 15.8ppg (20th) and 10.2rpg (2nd) but is yet to score from beyond the arc this season.

Charles Smith ran his team-mate close with an impressive month averaging 32.2 ppg in four games with a total of 128 points. The league veteran had a BBL season-high 49 points against Durham at the beginning of the month on 8-10 shooting from downtown whilst collecting 16 boards to complete a memorable performance. Smith went 100% from the free throw line in the four games and has now gone 28/28 from the foul line over his last 13 games. The Eagles‘ forward failed to connect from beyond the arc against Plymouth (0-3) but managed to net a total of 19 with a 52% success rate. Most recently, Smith carried Newcastle to a win in Surrey with a 33 point haul and 10 rebounds. Joe Chapman dished out 10+ assists in three games over January/February and leads the league in that category with an average of 7.6.

Michael Ojo was the other player in February to have a 40 point game in his outing against Cheshire and followed that outstanding performance with 61 points in his next two games against Glasgow and Surrey on his way to averaging 29.2 points per game during the month. The Raiders‘ guard also nailed all 27 of his free throw attempts and has now made 42 of his last 43 from the charity stripe. Chez Marks has dropped to second in the league scoring charts but still had an impressive month scoring 31 points on two occasions including helping the ‘Nix to a vital win against the defending champions in Newcastle.