By Hugh Atkinson, third year History
Bristol’s Spartans basketball team has continued to make great strides this year with a large influx of new players making an immediate contribution both on and off the court.
With a total of five teams across the Women’s and Men’s squads, regular coaching for all teams has been a struggle in previous years. However, the implementation of more structured coaching has resulted in a massive improvement in quality and morale across the board. This has translated into tangible team success as Bristol rose through the ranks to break into the top fifteen best basketball programmes in the nation.
The continued progress of the team has left Women’s 1st team coach Rick Hampton feeling optimistic about the future of the club. He states that the ‘club is going from strength to strength. With a solid coaching structure and plans in place to develop our overseas recruitment, the future is looking bright for the Spartans’. A summary of each of the teams’ seasons will give a more detailed picture of the progress made in the last year.
Women’s 1st Team:
Captained by one of the best players to step onto a Spartan’s court, in Noelia Gonzalez, the Women’s 1s enjoyed another season of high quality basketball. Headlined by a second place finish in the league and a dominating 107-27 win over UWE in varsity, the last year has showcased why the Women’s 1s continue to hang with the upper echelons of British basketball. Despite losing a number of key players, the team retained a high level of play with a mix of new recruits.
Women’s 2nd Team:
The Women’s 2s faced a big task this year with only four players returning to the squad from last year as well as increasing competition in the league. The team took this challenge in their stride and enjoyed the fruits of their hard work by averaging more points per game than they have in any previous season. By focusing on integrating new players and establishing good team chemistry, the Women’s 2s finished fourth in the league with a squad built virtually from scratch. From this position of strength, they have the blueprint for future success under coach Dan Morris.
Men’s 1st Team:
The Men’s 1st team have been through an up and down year. After dealing with some chemistry issues during the first few weeks of the season the team began to see some positive results on the court. After proving their quality during trials, a number of rookies made valuable contributions during key games, while familiar faces such as 2nd year forward Nej Karadeniz and guard Jacob Wright continued to show their value on court.
Men’s 2nd Team:
This year the Men’s 2s showed their quality on both sides of the floor despite big roster changes and an influx of new players. While a new roster can often result in chemistry issues, this didn’t seem to affect the team at any point in the season. An influx of Erasmus students brought an unselfish and exciting brand of basketball to the team which produced a number of key wins as well as a third place finish in the league.
Men’s 3rd Team:
While a sixth place league finish may not have been the goal at the start of the season, the Men’s 3s showed a style of play and level of team cohesion that shows momentum going into next year. New players such as Jeffrey Xiu joined the team and made an immediate contribution on both ends of the floor. Jeffrey started the season as a P2P player, however after showing his quality on court, he earned a place in the team and was the leading scorer in a number of key games. The group made strides in establishing a solid team bond and have played some of the most unselfish basketball in the entire club this year.
Recognition should also be given to members of the Spartans committee, who have worked hard to organise and structure the team, translating to quality results on the floor. For example, Nick Tallon, the team’s Participation Officer, dedicated significant time and energy to running sessions for new players and deserves a huge amount of credit for his work this year.
Finally, Spartans president, Diane McHugh, worked tirelessly all year and showed the same level of energy and passion for the job that she has always has. Diane was influential in every facet of the club and deserves a huge amount of respect for her contributions both in leadership and on the court
Featured Image - UoB Spartans Basketball Club
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