Heat Looking to Clinch Play-off Spot This Weekend
07 April 2012
The Guidlford Heat are looking to clinch a play-off spot this weekend, starting with a road trip to Worcester on Saturday to take on the Wolves and old friend Paul (PJ) James, the Wolves' Head Coach. The Heat need two wins to be sure of qualifying for the post-season and they have two games this weekend. Following the visit to the second-placed Wolves, they host third-placed Plymouth on Easter Sunday at the Surrey Sports Park.
Of course, beating two of the top three sides in the BBL is going to be tough, but Coach Creon has laid down the challenge to his team:
"It's tough to be playing a double header over Easter and being away from family on Easter Saturday and Sunday. So, I've challenged my guys to make sure all the sacrifices we make over this weekend and [during] the course of the season will be worth some important points in our play-off push.
"I believe we are capable of beating the top four. We’ve got five games left, four of them against the top four. We need two wins from those five games to be sure of making the play-offs."
It would be sweet indeed for the Heat to have one of those wins against the Worcester Wolves and ex-Heat coach, Paul James. The Heat have not had the best of seasons against the Wolves: the teams have met five times in all competitions and the Heat have yet to claim a win. They have also struggled on the road against the Wolves, having not won there in almost three years, all of which would make a win on Saturday all the sweeter.
The Wolves were on a roll in the BBL, winning eight straight before crashing to defeat last weekend on the road at Leicester, where the Riders handed them a comprehensive 91-68 beating. For the Wolves, this will be a crunch weekend, as they travel to Newcastle the night before to take on the mighty Eagles. If they lose that match, then they will be unable to catch the Eagles for first place in the BBL and will be in danger of losing second place to the Plymouth Raiders.
If they defeat the Eagles, a win against the Heat will see them draw level with the Eagles on 22 wins each, but with the series head-to-head. So, whatever the result on Friday, the Heat will be facing a motivated Wolves side in a game which will have a key impact at both ends of the table.
Coach Creon admits that the Wolves have had the best of his side this season: "The Wolves have pretty much had our number all season, we have played them in some close games and they have just out-shot us in a couple. Richie Gordon is a serious contender for MVP with the numbers he has put up and his tireless work ethic that we have to match to control his productivity. PJ has one of the best three-point shooting teams in our league and he gives them the green light to shoot it any time they have open look. His three-point bomb squad of Tommy Freeman, Sherrad Prezzie-Blue, Arnas Kazlaukas and David Watts, who are all shooting a respectable percentage from behind the three-point line, open up the key for Gordon to go to work.
"The last time we played them we did a pretty good job challenging all their three-point shots but they were red hot from downtown. We will try and limit their three-point threat and deal with their screens a lot better than we did last time out."
The game also features a couple of statistical milestones/match-ups. First of all, the Heat's leading scorer this season, Martelle McLemore, needs just eight points to each 1,000 career points in the BBL. The game also sees a match-up between the league's leading free-throw taker, the Heat's Tayo Ogedengbe, and the man in joint-second place, the Wolves' Tommy Freeman. Tayo has attempted 177 free-throws this season at an average of seven a game, while Freeman has attempted 152 (six per game) and is unlikely to catch him.
If you'd like to join the team, there are spaces on the team coach, which leaves the Surrey Sports Park at 2.15 on Saturday afternoon. It costs just £15 and includes admission to the game. For more details or to book a place, please e-mail Peter Bowyer. Alternatively, if you are making your own way there, the game tips off at 7 o'clock at Worcester University, Henwick Grove, Worcester, WR2 6AJ.