Friday’s win over third-placed Worcester saw the Sharks extend their winning run to six games in total, five of those coming in the league.
The run started with victory over Leeds just before Christmas, followed by wins against London, Surrey, Derby and Bristol. Worcester’s Paul James builds consistently strong teams, that occupy the top end of the Championship year after year, so it is perhaps a measure of how far we have come after a challenging start to the season.
Sometimes you just need to ‘win ugly’ and our latest streak was kickstarted by toughing it out against Leeds. But confidence has grown and the wins over some of the lower-ranked teams in the BBL have led to the position we find ourselves in now. We are now in fourth place, three wins behind Worcester Wolves but with four games in hand. The guys are playing with smiles on their faces and there really is no team we should fear for the rest of the season.
The Worcester win saw us shoot the three really well.
Six different guys found the target from downtown and it is a measure of the belief in the squad at this current point in time. We certainly seem to be playing with more freedom - but our coach, Atiba Lyons, has another theory for our recent success: “I don’t know if it’s more freedom, it’s just the ball movement is a little better,” he said.
“More people are touching the ball, feeling involved and that in turn opens up options for everybody and I think that is what you’re seeing.
“The ball swings around and people feel confidence in shooting around and making a play. All of a sudden, you’ve got a lot stronger offence. I think it’s just a product of buying into what I’ve been telling them.”
We have a renewed sense of optimism now, and it has been refreshing to see the likes of George Brownell step up to a starting role on the team. George has come through the junior ranks and is a great three point shooter.
I know Atiba is pleased with his defensive efforts as well. But what about our targets to the end of the season?
“We will continue to fight for that top four, remain in that area or where-ever we can get to and fight for silverware,” Lyons added.
“It’s still early in the season and, believe it or not, there is a lot of basketball left. We have a tough road trip schedule coming up so we’re just trying to stay in those waters.”
A long way to go but the signs are good. We are under no illusions... but equally, we have nothing to fear. It’s going to be an exciting ride all the way through to April!