Fab Flournoy has pledged to turn up the volume with his under-performing Newcastle Eagles after admitting he was to blame for back-to-back losses.
The Eagles embark on a weekend double header against Surrey and Durham Wildcats as they look to bury memories of two numbing defeats against Sheffield Sharks and – more damagingly – a new-look Cheshire Pheonix side.
It was another surprising week in the most open BBL title race for years, but Flournoy has absolved his players of the blame for the Phoenix loss, claiming it was his mistakes as coach that led to the careless defeat.
He says he was “too quiet” before the game against Cheshire – and has promised to start pulling his players up on their mistakes again in a bid for “perfection” in the New Year.
“I didn’t prepare them, and if I don’t prepare them properly then we will lose,” Flournoy said.
“At the start of the Cheshire game, in all honesty, I was quiet. I tried to appeal to their basketball sense, to their professionalism, but I was very calm. Normally in that situation I might be louder and full of energy but I was not like that on Sunday.
“People might not know why I’m shouting or they might think I do it for effect, but I do it so that what happened on Sunday does not happen again. The one time in 18 years that I don’t do it, we lose the game.
“So it will be different from now on. It is not necessarily about the shouting. It is about pulling people up on little things. It’s not about saying to people when they make a mistake ‘OK, you get another chance’.
“I didn’t get back to the basics that have served us well on Sunday and that is my fault as a coach.
“I could hide behind the fact that we didn’t shoot well enough, that our rotations were off but the fact ofthe matter is that I didn’t prepare them right and so I have to take the blame.
“We had to be in the right place to win that basketball game and I knew everything that happened in the game was going to happen. We didn’t have the urgency that we need to have in every game and we have to correct that.
“We are striving for perfection and that is what we will do from now on.”
Flournoy feels that his young team are finding life more problematic when they meet the BBL’s middleweights than when they are taking on the division’s leading lights.
On the face of it, it looks like he may have a point. Having beaten Worcester Wolves last weekend to return to the top of the BBL, few would have expected them to lose at a Cheshire team that has been much changed. Flournoy thinks that is a major area for improvement.
“I am working with a very talented team but that is part of the problem in a way,” he admits.
“It is a young team and for a lot of them they need to get their heads round what it means to be a Newcastle Eagles player. Every player in this league wants to either play for us or against us and that means there are no off days.” Even with his stark message about complacency, the Eagles should have too much for rock-bottom Surrey Heat. Flournoy sees it differently, however, and has fired a warning shot across the bows of his Newcastle team.
“We are coming off two defeats so it is definitely not a given,” Flournoy said.
“Surrey held Sheffield to a two-point final quarter so they are improving significantly. It is not a given game at all and we have Durham waiting for us on Sunday. They smell blood in the water.”