Tonight was the first time since March that the Leicester Riders stepped out on court attempting to avenge a defeat. It wasn’t pretty, but Rob Paternostro and his men got it done, beating the One Life Sheffield Sharks 60-40 (and no this isn’t the half time score.)
For the second time in a row the John Sandford Centre was sold out as Leicester ended the Sharks unbeaten start to the season, limiting them to the same amount of points you’d expect them to score in a half.
The game didn’t exactly start out in the same way it went on either. Sheffield, mainly through Simmons (top scoring with 15 for the Sharks), as the visitors raced to 8-0 lead after only a minute edging the first half 26-24.
Despite a high scoring opening few minutes the game lacked quality from the start, Jay Couisnard wasn’t exactly on fire and the team’s offense seemed to be directed almost entirely through the young guard.
The Sharks amassed 14 points over the next half as Leicester went into cruise control on offense, making 60 points at a canter.
Confidence wasn’t riding high for Leicester; last night Worcester inflicted the Riders first defeat for nearly half a year thanks due to a big time performance from ex-player Zaire Taylor.
Restricting your opponent to 40 points however, that does take some doing. Young forward Rashad Hassan has injected a lot of energy and quality into the presence under the rim for the Riders this season grabbing eight boards tonight to add to the nine pickups he made in last week’s win over Birmingham.
Without going through every Leicester player and discussing the individual skills they bring on defence it’d be easier to point out that they have NO weak link. Worcester scored 75 last night which is going to take some doing to better. The back-court are restricting shot opportunities and offering virtually no hoop penetration whilst the Forwards are crowding the paint and making it tough for any big man to get a shot off, admittedly they give away a few too many Free Throws but this early on in the season that can be remedied.
One positive on the offensive end of the floor for Leicester was the Free Throw shooting which was the one suffering point amongst all the success they experienced last season. Tonight however they shot a reasonable 75%– There, that’s all I can think of about the offense.
Sheffield was a poor team tonight, they were missing the same amount and types of shots as Leicester but at the end of the day they just don’t have the same talent in their roster. Despite boasting a victory in the BBL Trophy north of the border in Glasgow against the Riders in March. It was an enthralling final (making up for the 11 hour round trip to trip to Scotland) but tonight was a shell of that contest. The Sharks had a couple of good guard options through Lewis and Simmons but in general they posed less of a threat than the Knights did last week.
After the game Rob told me: “Nights like this are tough, when you’re low in confidence shots just won’t drop and it’s important just to keep your head up and we did that on the defensive end of the floor.”
“Last night’s defeat doesn’t mean anything over the course of the season it’s just too early on. Worcester has some great players and deserved the win but it was only our second game of the season.”
Anyone with Rider’s or Shark’s players in their BBL fantasy team won’t be happy with 100 combined points in the game tonight. Just count yourself lucky most of you that you didn’t have to watch it.
Onwards and upwards however! Next up for Leicester an away tie to the Phoenix next Sunday. As for Sheffield they head to Birmingham in an intriguing Saturday night tie come October 12th.