Drew Lasker has hailed the “frightening” potential of the new-look Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
The Eagles opened their BBL campaign with back-to-back defeats of Durham Wildcats and Cheshire Phoenix and while those results might have been expected, the difference in the team’s style of play was the biggest talking point of the first weekend of the season.
In Malik Cooke they have an all-action newcomer who provides pace, power and point-scoring prowess, while Scott Martin also whetted the appetite with his debut offerings. Established star Daris Defoe laid a marker for the season with a 22-point haul against Durham that was enough to earn him a place in the BBL’s team of the week.
The returning Lasker provided energy from the bench in the second phase of the game in a role that is likely to be his throughout the campaign.
There are still huge areas that the Eagles can improve in but overall there was enough there for Lasker to predict big things from the men in black and white vests this season.
“For me the frightening thing is that we’re not even anywhere near our potential in terms of our cohesiveness and where we can be as a unit,” he said.
“We’re still trying to learn from each other and there is a lot more for us to improve on. But if we can beat Cheshire on their home court like we did in the last game without being at that level yet, it is a big positive for us moving forward.”
For Lasker the main reason for excitement is that the Eagles are now capable of scoring from everywhere on the court.
In previous seasons there might have been an over-reliance on Charles Smith and Joe Chapman to lead the scoring but the stats sheets made for pleasant reading for Fab Flournoy at the weekend, with virtually every player weighing in with double-digit contributions.
“This is a totally different style of Newcastle Eagles from what everyone is used to,” Lasker said. “We’re really fast and our defence is really, really tight. Also, everyone can score in this team. Maybe in the past the Eagles have been reliant on Charles (Smith) and Joe (Chapman) to score most of the points but look at the last game – six guys were on double figures. Anyone can score at any time.
“There are a lot of things to be excited about with this team.”
Lasker is no stranger to the Eagles, having had a brief period at the club in 2011. He feels he still has much to learn despite his previous experience of the Eagles and Flournoy’s coaching style.
“I feel like I’m starting from scratch, to be honest,” he said. “When I came the last time it was for such a brief period. I got a very small idea of what Fab asks from his players but really with Malik and Scott coming into the team we’re all starting again. I don’t think I got the full idea of his philosophy first time around so my goal now is to learn it as quickly as possible.
“My role will be to come off the bench and provide a spark, which is something I’m looking forward to.”