Wednesday marked the dawn of a new season for Newcastle basketball in BUCS. Coach Hewitt and his scouting set up had been busy in the summer transfer window, snapping up three American stars on deadline day to give the team a bit of flair and guile. This evening’s opponents were University of Chester 1s, who are well renowned for their physical game. Nevertheless, once Charlie Wallrapp gave Newcastle the lead from the tip off, the Knights were unmatched. The team were able to undertake both blindingly quick counter attacks and intricately developed plays to break down the opposition. Having said that, Coach Hewitt regularly called for the team to improve on their defensive rotation and communication on the court, with some defensive lapses allowing Chester to score some preventable points. Chester’s physical game contrasted to the tiki-taka style of Newcastle, embodied by the diminutive Chester number ten who consistently conceded fouls. These free throws were often clinically scored by the Knights’ players, and contributed to the 26-5 lead that they had accumulated by the end of the first period.
Before this match only three of the eight man squad had previously played together, so Coach Hewitt emphasised the need to build up good habits and gel as a team. He was supported by his assistant coaches George Beard and Prince Lartey, who provided a feed of information, whilst the more experienced players provided direction on the court for those less familiar with the team’s plays.
“Once Charlie Wallrapp gave Newcastle the lead from the tip off, the Knights were unmatched”
Although Chester remained a threat, competing against inferior opposition can be a challenge. Not only is there a risk of injury, but maintaining a high level of basketball can be hard work. At the half-time interval, with his team leading 49-15, Coach Hewitt warned about complacency and the importance of practicing the plays that they had been working on. The response from the restart was impressive, with Chuck Duru and Charlie Wallrapp scoring four consecutive three-pointers between them, and the Knights continued in that vein extending the lead to 71-32 going into the final quarter. As the match drew into the closing stages, the play got more casual and careless. Chester showed great character to keep battling considering the one-sidedness of the score, helped by the Newcastle team who seemed to lack urgency and didn’t push too hard, perhaps with their National Shield match on Sunday in mind.
“Coach Hewitt emphasised the need to build up good habits and gel as a team”
The final score of 95-48 may have been representative of the game but certainly not of the Newcastle team. There were glimpses throughout the match of real potential, giving the team real positivity for the rest of the season. Given a bit more time to gel, the Knights will be a real force to be reckoned with, pushing for major honours this season. It would be great to see more people come to watch this season’s games, especially considering the talent of the team and the spectacle of the sport as a whole. The team’s next BUCS match is against Northumbria Mens 2s in Sports Central on Wednesday. So if anyone fancies watching the Old Enemy get thumped in their own back yard, get down there.