Basketball

It’s been a disappointing first half of the season for the University of Sunderland basketball team, as wins have been few and far between.

Yet, the turn of the year offers hope and optimism that previous results can be forgotten and lessons have been learnt.

The two 1st teams have performed moderately well – both the men and women’s have shown a glimmer of hope throughout a tough the opening stages of this campaign for all the Sunderland sides. Nonetheless both 1st teams currently sit second bottom of their respected divisions.

However the mens 2nds and 3rds have struggled; the 2nds have won one in six, but the 3rds are yet to register a single point.

With this in mind, here is three key attributes that, if executed, will hopefully save them from relegation.

Consistency

The root of problems have come from not being able to – when on top – continue with the in-game momentum. This can be the difference between winning or loosing the quarter or even match. The second team have been the major culprits of this, as they have continently thrown leads away due to a lack of in-match experience – by letting their performances levels slip. Most notably in last month’s clash away at York St John, after a fast start the visitors led at half-time, only to York fight back to snatch the win.

Additionally, showing consistency into the matches ahead must be addressed. The 2nds also fell foul of this – four straight defeats after their victory against York – shows an area where they must improve. Likewise the 1sts – after dramatic 58-57 league win against Leeds – has somewhat shown their inconsistency. Their league form since the Leeds win reads: lost, won, lost. Continuing this kind of form could spell regelation.

Belief

Throughout the basketball set-up there is a real lack of confidence among players, coaches and presidents alike. A shortage of belief and conviction has been missing thus far – four wins out 20 BUCS league matches for the both men’s and women’s sides is not pretty viewing. Nevertheless, those victories have come in startling fashion, as there has been some stand-out moments so far this season.

The women’s 1st team’s 52-29 victory against Sheffield in October was believed to be a season defining win. Yet, there was disappointment in their next game as they could not field a full side – meaning an automatic loss. What followed was a home defeat to York – the previous high from the Sheffield win – now a distant memory. For the remainder of the 2016/17 campaign, confidence is key – belief in themselves and their teammates could see huge improvements for the duration of the campaign.

Hard work

Without hard work and determination, changes to the slow start this term will not be made. The rewards for hard work could prove the difference between survival or relegation. In recent weeks the basketball presidents have spoken of how important training sessions are, and how desire and dedication can help raise performances. For the men’s third team, this has been an issue with squad members regularly not attending training.

Attending each practice session is crucial for the team to gel together – efforts put in will improve morale and team cohesion. Nevertheless, the men’s 1st team showed all the qualities and determination that could see them rise up the table in the New Year, when they defeated York earlier in December. With three key players missing, fringe players stepped up and produced a fine display to record their first win of the season. And with only one substitute to call upon, their togetherness and work ethic was superb.

Ultimately, at the halfway point of the season, all the university basketball teams have something to fight for. But February and March are the months that can make all the difference – all are must-win encounters. The four sides have the momentous task of battling their way out of the drop-zones.

However a New Year brings a sense of hope that previous results and performances can be forgotten.  If they can tackle their weaknesses, and use these three key elements, league survival is a real possibility.