Growing role helps Lyons develop his skills

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SHEFFIELD Sharks coach Atiba Lyons says his role of overseeing the club’s junior programme and coaching Sheffield Hallam University’s basketball first team is helping him in his main role.

Lyons, who retired from playing at the end of last season to focus on his coaching duties, splits his time between putting the professional players at the Sharks through their paces, working with the student team and developing the talents of the next generation of local players. It can lead to him coaching up to six matches a week with training sessions every day too.

But despite the increase in workload the American play-caller thinks it allows him to refine some of his coaching techniques:

He said: “It can be a bit different coaching at the junior level but what it is allowing me to do is try a few things out and maybe experiment with different drills in practice to see how they work.

“It’s not really big things more the ‘X’s and O’s’ of coaching but I’ll take things and try them out and see whether they will transfer to the senior team.”

Sharks are in a rebuilding phase as a club with this year’s squad having a particularly youthful look.

Sheffield Hallam students Zach Gachette and Colin Sing have been joined by Steve Gordon and new signing Nick Lewis as players who are combining studying with playing.

Gachette, Sing and Lewis will continue to be a vital part of Lyons’ rotation off the bench while Gordon is being integrated a little bit slower into the team.

The university team is also benefitting from having top class players. “We have a strong university squad this season. Certainly stronger than last year,” said Lyons.