More unknowns than knowns?

BBL season tips-off with plenty of optimism

The season is almost upon us and I cannot remember heading into a BBL campaign with less confidence in how I think things will pan out.

In recent years it’s been a safe bet to expect Newcastle and Leicester to hoover up most, if not all, of the trophies, but the turnover in two of the most stable rosters in the BBL, plus the obvious retooling from the teams behind them, has made predicting what will happen over the next eight months harder than ever.

Photo: newcastle-eagles.com

On paper I really like the Eagles line-up, it looks deeper than ever, but filling the shoes of Fletcher and Martin is going to be tough. Paper doesn’t always translate onto court, but if it does, they will take some stopping and they sure look like they will be putting big numbers on the board once again this season.

Sullivan’s retirement is basically a hole you can’t fill for Leicester, you just don’t replace a guy like that, so they will be different as a result. That being said, they do have good BBL experience returning with the likes of Thomson, Walker, Bernardini and the signing of Hampton I thought was really important. They look deep and versatile so should be in the shake-up.

Outside of the usual big two, the teams I’m most intrigued to see out on court are London, Glasgow and Plymouth. Justin Robinson has played all over the continent in his professional career, so it’s great to see a player of that calibre come back home.

I suspect his role at the Lions will be different to when he was in A1 Greece or ProB France, so I’m looking forward to seeing him in London and what sort of impact he has on the league. They also have quite an array of talent around him, so I’m sure Lions’ fans will be heading into the season with plenty of confidence.

In Plymouth and Glasgow we have two very experienced BBL coaches returning to the league. Both Gavin Love and Tony Garbelotto know what it takes to be successful in this league, so should hit the ground running, although neither has been helped by pre-season injuries. They’re two fine coaches though so I’ve confidence in both to be very competitive once they are at full strength.

As an aside, I’m delighted to see Tony G get the GB gig and I thought we showed enough in EuroBasket and throughout the summer with our underage teams to be optimistic for the future.

The theme around the BBL this off-season seems to have been depth, most teams look to have longer rotations than in previous years, which will be fascinating to watch and I think is a great step for the league.

Of course having more options to call on, makes a coach’s job harder and I suspect most teams will be searching for the rotations that work best for them in the first few weeks of the season.

Worcester versus London and Glasgow against Sheffield are probably the two most intriguing games of the opening weekend for me, but I’ll definitely have an eye on Bristol-Plymouth as well as that rivalry is always fun to watch.

It’s also great to see on top of the excellent Livebasketball.tv coverage, there will be live streaming on Facebook through the Unilad deal. Come December when the BBC coverage starts, we’ll never have had more ways to watch the league, which is fantastic news.

Back to the original point, I got asked on Twitter the other day if there had ever been a BBL season with so many new faces and, to be honest, I don’t think there has. Earlier in the summer the buzz was around how many coaching changes there had been, which whilst not a record is certainly significant, particularly compared to recent years.

What that means is, we go into the new season with almost as many unknowns as knowns and I think that is a great thing for us fans. It is genuinely hard to call right now and I think that makes October the most intriguing opening months for a long, long time as teams try to establish themselves.