Paul Blake says Newcastle Eagles are “learning the lessons” of last season after they secured the return of Drew Lasker to Sport Central.
The versatile guard brings his eight years of BBL experience back to Tyneside next season and will be hoping to build on a short but successful stint in 2011. Plymouth Raiders were also interested in Lasker but after similar bids were tabled the Texas-born guard opted for a reunion with Fab Flournoy and the challenge of overhauling the dominant Leicester Riders
Blake admits the Eagles’ recruitment is being carried out with this at the fore-front of their mind, with Lasker set to be one of three potential starting guards on the roster next term.
“From my perspective Drew is a proven starting guard in the BBL so we’re delighted to have him back. He will be one of three guards that we’ll be signing for next season,” Blake said.
“The third guard will have the ability to play in other positions so it won’t necessarily be a three-man rotation but there will be the chance to mix and match. That is what we feel we needed to have after last season.
“Things are coming together and I definitely think we will be deeper than we were last season. We’ve learned the lessons of last season and we’re really looking to correct them.
“Hopefully we’ll be a tougher proposition than last season – not that we weren’t tough last season, but we needed to perhaps step up a level with Leicester playing at the level they did.
“They are looking to sustain that with the way they are recruiting and retaining this summer so we are in new ground and it is an exciting challenge for the club.”
Blake called the re-signing of Lasker a “no brainer” and he ticks all the boxes for the Eagles’ guard wishlist this summer. Not only does he have prior experience of Flournoy’s methods but he also has a solid track record in the BBL, where he averaged 13.2 points and 5.9 rebounds in a decent campaign with Plymouth last year.
The Eagles also know that Lasker – who will officially become a British citizen at the start of September and thus will qualify as part of the Eagles’ domestic players quota – has the character that they felt was missing at times last term.
Flournoy said: “Drew is a real professional, he is level headed and always a positive contributor to the team. It’s going to be great to make that link again. He had some tough decisions to make this summer and I’m glad he chose to come to Newcastle.”
Lasker’s return is the second of the Eagles’ summer signings, following on from the capture of college prospect Scott Martin last week.
Newcastle expect to tie up deals for long-serving duo Charles Smith and Darius Defoe in the coming weeks and also hope to make a double capture in the guard slots next week.
The idea is to have their entire roster on board in time for the start of pre-season on September 1, a move that Flournoy hopes will bring focus and determination to the group.
For Lasker’s part, he feels he is returning to the North East with “unfinished business” – a reference to the Eagles barren campaign in 2011, when he was recruited to plug gaps left by a glut of injuries.
The Eagles were ultimately unsuccessful but Lasker did enough in that short spell to convince Flournoy and assistant coach Dave Forrester that he was capable of playing for Newcastle. And the feeling is obviously mutual, with Lasker’s motivation for coming to the North East purely professional and not financial.
Lasker said: “I’m excited to be returning to Newcastle, I have some unfinished business from 2011 and I’m really looking forward to joining what looks to be a very talented group of players for the coming year.”