Sheffield Sharks ‘second season’ starts on Friday night at the EIS.
Not literally. Any wins or losses will be added to their tally from their opening 16 games of the campaign – eight wins and eight losses.
But in terms of feel and make up of the squad, Friday’s meeting with Leicester Riders (7.30pm) and Sunday’s trip to Manchester Giants will represent a watershed weekend for coach Atiba Lyons.
Last Friday’s defeat at home against Cheshire Phoenix was the first time the returning Mike Cook had played with his new teammates.
It also was point-guard BJ Holmes’ first game after an injury that had seen him out of action since mid-December with a hand injury.
Judging Sharks on that match would be harsh with so little preparation time.
So Lyons can be allowed a little leeway as Sharks target a strong league finish to set up a crack at the play-offs and also a tilt at the BBL Trophy.
Lyons said: “That (Cheshire game) was BJ’s first week back too. He’d only practised a few days before the match and Mike came in the day before so it’s a big learning curve for everybody.
“Even BJ coming back takes some adjustment and then with Mike arriving it makes it a huge adjustment.
“It’s almost like a second season. When you bring Mike in, he’s such a big player in terms of what he’s accomplished in the league, it’s a case of players watching and seeing what he does.
“They need to get past that and start finding their spots.”
Cook was an individual marvel in his first spell with the club but Lyons expects a more rounded player this time around.
He said: “He’s in a different place (in his career) - he’s older (aged 30), but he can still score.
“He’s never been a lightning quick players, he’s always been a guy who gets to his spots, he’s crafty with the ball and he’s still got that in his game.
“It’s more so creating and helping guys out rather than when he was younger and a little more aggressive.
“But I’ve not coached him for a long time so I’m excited to see what will happen.”
Riders coach Rob Paternostro: “Everybody in the league knows Sheffield are a very good team with a lot of veterans.
“They just brought in Mike Cook, who will definitely help them out. I have been in this league a long time and I know that going away to Sheffield is always a difficult game, every year.”