Fab Flournoy is happy with the pace of Newcastle Eagles’ progress as he surveys a “unique” start to the BBL season.
Another weekend of twists and turns saw Leicester Riders knocked off top spot by Worcester Wolves, who powered back from their own recent set-backs to top the BBL standings after ending the East Midlands’ outfit’s long unbeaten home record.
That means that every team in the league, including Flournoy’s Eagles, have been defeated twice and has left some calling it the most open Championship in history.
The Eagles brushed aside Manchester Giants on Friday before knocking Glasgow Rocks out of the BBL Cup on Sunday and Flournoy is seeing signs that his “work-in-progress” are getting to grips with the British game after a stop-start first few weeks of the season.
“We’re still a team that is in the process of learning. We’re still growing and we’re still finding our way,” he said.
“We had two good wins over the weekend but you won’t find me jumping around and shouting about it just yet. I’m happy with the way we’re learning right now but we definitely can be better.
“I think at the moment I still feel we’re a couple of weeks behind every one else. We have lost a few weeks of our progress to injuries to myself and Charles Smith and then we had a two week break which is just how the fixture list dropped for us.
“I think every team in the league will be in a similar situation but we’re still trying to find the combinations.”
The Eagles’ inconsistency has been matched by the rest of the BBL, with the season now ten games old but offering few clues about the likely title contenders.
At the moment there are only four points separating six teams, with every club having suffered two defeats.
That makes this weekend’s visit of Wolves to Sport Central a potential pivotal fixture for Flournoy’s Eagles, who have already suffered a defeat to the highly physical Worcester.
Interestingly, London Lions and even Durham Wildcats – who await the Eagles in the Cup semi-final if they can vanquish Sheffield Sharks – remain in contention if they can string a run of results together.
That is the key factor, for consistency has eluded every team in the BBL so far.
“I have been involved in the BBL for a long time and I have seen something close to this before – but nothing quite like this,” Flournoy said.
“Everyone is picking each other off. You can play your own game and then you’re waiting for the results from elsewhere to come in and it’s quite rare that what you think is going to happen actually happens.
“It is good for the league and it is as competitive as it has been for a while. There are a lot of good teams and there have been a lot of good imports into the league this summer, which means teams are still gelling and still getting to grips with things. It’s exciting for everyone and it’s got people talking about the league.
“For us, we’re just like every other team. We’re trying to find our path and we’re trying to find our way. We can only concentrate on ourselves at the moment.”
Even with the season approaching the traditionally important month of December, Flournoy feels that many of the teams in the league are still discovering their level.
The Eagles are yet to play last season’s bogey team Leicester and Sheffield Sharks – or surprise package London Lions.
They are three of the top five teams in the BBL, with the Eagles only taking on Leicester at the end of January. That means the league should stay open for a number of weeks yet – a prospect that thrills Flournoy.
“We still haven’t played every team in the league yet. We have still got teams to play in the league while others have played each other multiple times. Worcester and Leicester have played each other three or four times already while we haven’t played Leicester yet.
“We have to keep going but it’s going to be a very interesting second half of the season.”