As Worcester Wolves players prepare for their first fixtures of 2012, they will be justifiably proud to have been part of the club’s best ever start to a season in the British Basketball League.
At this point in time in previous years the Wolves have generally struggled to achieve an even number of wins and losses, and have usually occupied the lower levels of the league. In stark contrast, the team has now accumulated a 9-3 win-loss record and as a result now sit in clear second place in the table, just four points behind leaders Newcastle Eagles.
Worcester have also performed creditably in other competitions. Only a solitary loss to Plymouth Raiders led to an exit from the BBL Trophy after the group stages, and then a points-aggregate defeat to those same opponents meant that the Wolves just failed at the last stage to make the BBL Cup Final.
However hopeful of success that Director of Basketball Paul James must have been when assembling this season’s squad, he admits that it was a gamble to bring so many new faces to Worcester:
“I made the decision to move quite a few players out, and move quite a few players in. Last season’s team did not perform to its potential. I wanted to try and get a better balance of players who are hungry and wanted to be a part of the Wolves programme.”
Two of those new faces, point guard Sherrad Prezzie-Blue and small forward Tommy Freeman have already recorded several appearances in the BBL Team of the Week. Prezzie-Blue moved across to the Wolves from Worthing Thunder where he was that team’s leading scorer. This time around it has not been necessary for him to carry such a heavy scoring responsibility, freeing up more opportunity to distribute the ball, leading to his topping the entire BBL in assists for December, with 5.5 per game.
Much of the Wolves scoring punch is now being provided by Tommy Freeman. Fresh out of the University of Ohio, Freeman has impressed with some stunning bursts of quick-fire production. Currently averaging over 23 points a game to stand fourth best in the BBL, he stunned the Newcastle Eagles when pouring in 12 points in less than two minutes when helping his side to a recent upset victory over the league leaders.
The set of new Americans is completed by Richie Gordon. Coming to Worcester to take over centre duties from the highly-regarded Justin Dobbins would have been a considerable task for any player. However Gordon has swiftly shown Wolves supporters that there is now a new sheriff in town. Averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game in December led to three consecutive appearances in the BBL Team of the Week, and meant he achieved the major honour of being named as the BBL’s best player in the last month of 2011.
The first chance in 2012 to see this impressive trio back in action will be a trip for the Wolves to the Mersey Tigers on Friday 13 January, followed by a meeting with the Durham Wildcats at the University of Worcester the day after (tip off 7pm).