Darius Defoe's key role in completing Newcastle Eagles jigsaw

Darius Defoe's first job after rejoining Newcastle Eagles will be helping the new recruits to learn Fabulous Flournoy's philosophy

Newcastle Eagles' Darius Defoe
Newcastle Eagles' Darius Defoe

Fabulous Flournoy is looking forward to teaching his new boys the Newcastle Eagles way, but he need have no such concerns with his latest recruit.

Forward Darius Defoe will be back for an 11th season with the British Basketball League champions. During that time he has clocked up more than 400 appearances and all 18 BBL trophies in the club’s history.

So the 29-year-old will have an important role in helping summer signings Rahmon Fletcher and Ricky Taylor adapt to player-coach Flournoy’s methods.

“It’s great to have D back,” the player-coach commented. “He’s a pillar of our team.

“I’ve had Darius since he was 18 and now ‘young Defoe’ is a grown man and a professional in his own right. It’s aways fantastic having a player with his experience. That’s extremely helpful when you’ve got new figures to come into the club.

“He can help set the stage for the new guys coming in.

“He’s been here, enjoyed it and it’s all he knows. It’s just fantastic him signing for us.

“He had a fantastic year last year and in basketball terms he is still at a young age, but he seems older because of all the games he’s played. He’s been in this league a long time.”

With his team-building nearing its completion, Flournoy is looking forward to the squad finding an identity when pre-season begins on a week on Monday.

Flournoy is pleased with a recruitment drive which has allowed him to re-sign Charles Smith, Drew Lasker and Scott Martin, and bring back former favourite Andy Thomson.

“Every year it’s a jigsaw,” he said. “You have key pieces you want to keep. Without a shadow of a doubt, they were Darius, Charles and Andy.

“I was trying to retain the key figures of last season and I’ve been able to do that, albeit not as many as I would like (Malik Cooke has joined BC Kormend).

“On top of that, you always want some fresh blood.

“You have to meet the expectations and demands of the team, and having a focal point is always good. For us that was always going to be through our forwards.

“I think our guard play is going to be good with the mix of the new guys and Lasker in his second full season with us. Getting Scott Martin back is going to be huge for us too.

“I try and let each group of players have its own identity as far as the style we play is concerned. We have recruited some really talented guys but how they’re going to play we will be able to find out because right now it’s just speculation on our part,

“We believe that we have got it right and now they have to find their own way – when I say ‘they’ I really mean we have to find it. Pre-season is always about trying to figure out what you’ve got, what you can do with it and what style suits us.

“That’s more offensively. Defensively we always have our style and that’s why we’ve been so consistent over the years.

“How do we move the basketball and find out our rotations? That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I always try to retain as many players that have gone through that process as possible, so less players are going through the teaching.

“At some point you would like to coach your way out of the game as opposed to the teaching that has to take place before you can start coaching.

“The quicker you get players in, the quicker you can get to that point.

“We meet up for pre-season training on September 1. We’ve still got a couple more announcements to make between now and then but we’re aiming to have them all done by September 1.”

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