As the BBL Championship tips off, the Worcester Wolves will be hoping to put their early season woes in the BBL Cup behind them.
After winning the competition last season, the Wolves were knocked out in the group stages last week, finishing rock bottom of their group.
The question on many people's lips now is was the success of last season a lucky break, or the start of something special brewing in the Midlands.
A season to remember
On the 26th January 2020, the Worcester Wolves traveled to the NIA for the first time since 2018, against the Bristol Flyers for the BBL Cup Final.
The team’s ability to rise above pressure throughout the 19/20 season meant that they had a huge chance to be crowned as shock winners of the tournament.
Chemistry between players such as Cortez Edwards, Amir Williams, Maartin Bouwknecht and Jordan Williams, alongside a newly signed coach Matt Newby, allowed for this promising team to explode into the spotlight.
Bouwknecht’s playmaking facilitation gave the whole team their opportunity to ‘show off’ their individual talents with dynamic results.
In parallel to the Worcester captain, Williams' defensive dominance on court meant that the Wolves often led throughout the season comfortably.
His individual numbers of 0.5 steals per game and 0.3 blocks per game with minimal turnovers and good shot contesting was a big factor in allowing for his teammates to punish the opposition on the offence after making the defensive stop.
Williams explained that he felt that bringing home the trophy gave Worcester a sense of fear and intimidation amongst the other BBL teams, setting the standard on what type of basketball they want to be playing.
‘’We are still missing our American players so right now we are still finding our identity as a new team integrating players and building chemistry,’’ said Williams.
Wolves taking initiative during pandemic
The new 20/21 season brings together a new group of potential superstars looking to secure their name in the Worcester Wolves trophy cupboard.
Newly signed players such as Lamarr Kimble, Josh McSwiggan, Mike Parks and Matthew Bryan-Amaning will all also be creating opportunities for points across the whole team; when substitutions are made, the team doesn’t find itself falling behind and relying on those key players.
But the change in scenery and how much the current climate has definitely affected every BBL team's ability to train, as most of the sessions have been independently led, and teams haven’t had opportunities to build their chemistry as early as they would have liked.
Worcester's management have tackled this problem, by utilising University of Worcester's specialist sports management facilities to each individual player’s advantage, meaning they have had additional access to personalised support, even while stuck at home.
Matt Newby's impact
Despite only being in the role of Head Coach since the start of last season, Matt Newby has had a big impact on the Wolves.
After a poor season during the 18/19 campaign under former Head Coach Ty Shaw, Worcester have been revitalised under Newby - as the roster was replenished with younger talent with higher potential.
His ideas were a big risk at the time - as a young core could have consequently struggled in the league to compete with seasoned pros and BBL veterans, but it is clear that the Wolves stepped up to the challenge and they will now be looking to keep improving and building on their success of last year.
Speaking with Vavel UK, Worcester Wolves podcast host Reece Williams gave his thoughts about Matt Newby’s fit on the team.
‘’Coach Newby is a very humble man who knows how to work his team on a competitive level and a personal level," said Reece.
#WolfPack Reece Williams spoke with Josh McSwiggan and got his reaction following the teams defeat to @BristolFlyers in the BBL Cup yesterday.#BritishBasketball #Interview #Media pic.twitter.com/3G86wcnPOx— Worcester Wolves (@BBLWolves) December 3, 2020
"It’s rare that I have seen a coach combine with his team as well as Newby has done.
"He’s very open and easy to talk to and he is a fantastic coach and Worcester are lucky to have him.’’
This season for the Wolves is gearing up to be an intense season as the BBL Championship and Trophy can be won by anyone, so every game will test them in every aspect on the court.
With the BBL Cup now out of reach for the current holders, expect the Wolves to step up in the Championship and Trophy competitions.
We are certainly looking forward to watching the new prospects rise up the ranks, and the old players securing their legacy at the franchise.