Double Header for the Heat
04 November 2011
The Guildford Heat face a double-header this weekend with the visit of the Leicester Riders on Saturday and then a tricky road trip to take on the Milton Keynes Lions on Sunday, two teams who have had contrasting starts to the season.
The Riders have started the new season well, winning four of their five games so far. However, three of those games, including the loss, have been against the Milton Keynes Lions, two in the Trophy, and the latest, a 102-67 hammering of the Lions in the first round of the BBL Cup. They also beat the EBL side, the London Leopards, in the BBL Trophy, but despite that, they failed to qualify, splitting their two matches with the Lions, but losing the head-to-head. In the BBL Championship, they have played one, won one, a 80-59 drubbing of the Cheshire Jets.
Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro is no stranger to Heat fans and this year he brings some familiar faces with him, although not necessarily wearing familiar uniforms. Holdovers from last season are British big men, Barry Lamble and Tom Sherlock, along with old friend, Robert Youngblood, who signed for the Riders last season from the Lions. Joining them are big name signings, Andrew Sullivan and Flinder Boyd, both fresh from representing Team GB over the summer. Dru Sullivan, the GB Captain, signed for the Riders a few weeks ago from the Mersey Tigers. They are joined by Bradd Wierzbicki, back at Leicester after a season in Spain, and Americans, Cameron Rundles (Guard) and Ayron Hardy (Small Forward). Completing the line-up is forward Brett Royster, another late addition to the team, who replaces countryman Frank Holmes.
Despite his team's hot start to the season and the Heat's well-publicised woes, Coach Paternostro is expecting a hard game at the Surrey Sports Park:
"I have a great deal of respect for Creon and what he did there last year. The Heat competed well last season, and were really tough defensively. They’re a hard team to play against, especially on their own court.
"They were unlucky in the Trophy, when you look back at those games, they were in every game and their results are a little misleading.
"They’re a difficult team to play against , you have to look at Mike Martin and Julius Joseph. They’ve both been around for a while now, and are difficult to cover. Martelle McLemore had a really good rookie season last year, and he’s playing some good basketball at the moment."
In contrast to the Riders, the Lions have had a mixed start to the season. Although they are through to the Semi-finals of the Trophy, that was at the expense of EBL side the London Leopards, who the Lions comfortably beat twice, and the Riders, with whom the Lions split their two games. The Riders got their revenge by knocking the Lions out of the Cup last weekend and the Lions have also lost their only BBL Championship game, a 115-88 hammering on the road to the Glasgow Rocks.
Lions are coached by ex-player, Mike New, now in his second season. He has brought back the exciting back-court pair of Demarius Bolds (last season's leading scorer at almost 21 points per game) and Stefan Gill. Up front, things look different as New has brought in Australian centre Adrien Sturt from the Essex Pirates along with American forwards Daniel Northern and Howard Crawford.
Despite the Lions' two heavy defeats, Coach Creon isn't expecting his opponents to fold on Sunday:
"Coach Mike New has had a mixture of results starts to the season but they’re a talented group that will eventually get it right. Mike knows this league better than most so he will make the right decisions to get them rolling.
" Demarius Bolds is an out and out scorer so we know we have to do a team defensive job on him. Gill shoots the three well and Northern and Crawford bring athleticism and size at the forward positions."
Heat forward Julius Joseph echoed that sentiment:
"They are probably in the bottom half of the table on paper, but who knows what will happen when the dust settles? They’ve got a mix of youth and experience, but it’ll be another tough game as we look for our first win. It’s always difficult to get the first one when you’ve started badly."
Saturday's game at the Surrey Sports Park tips-off at 7.00 pm and you can get your tickets via the Surrey Sports Park Box Office or by calling the Heat Box Office on 01483 689111.
There are also spaces left on the team coach to Milton Keynes, which leaves the Surrey Sports Park at 1.45 pm (game tips-off at 5 pm). Tickets cost just £15 which includes entry to the game. For details or to reserve a place, please e-mail Peter Bowyer of the Heat Supporters' Club.