Fab Flournoy ordered his Newcastle Eagles to report for a 6am training session as he bids to get them “mentally right” for the run-up to Christmas.
Flournoy is excited by the potential of his powerful, offensive-minded Eagles team but admits they were not properly prepared for their last game – a crushing defeat to early BBL pace-setters Worcester Wolves.
So the Eagles’ head-coach made his players endure a dawn fitness session as they look to make up for the ground lost after defeats to the Wolves and Plymouth Raiders.
Flournoy revealed: “I gave the guys the weekend off but we went hard on Monday night and then we were up at 6am on Tuesday.
“It is another long week for us before the game and I wanted to get everyone back on it.
“It is a way of letting everyone know we’re back and it’s business as normal. It worked out great.
“It was a short, sharp training session but it was great.
“We will be throwing out our training schedule anyone because of the long trip to Surrey and now this is about being mentally right as much as it is being physically right.
“In the last week they were not as prepared as they should have been
“It is about getting everyone back on the same page again and the team have to learn the correct way to go about their business again.”
The BBL title race is shaping up nicely after a weekend which saw the previously unbeaten Wolves beaten twice – results which came as Plymouth and Sheffield continued their own excellent form.
That led to Paul Blake declaring to The Journal any one of five teams could win the title this season, which is something which is refreshing for the league but poses problems for Flournoy as he looks to find a winning formula for his new-look roster.
The Eagles’ coach is convinced his team have the talent and ability to make a splash this season but has privately conceded they need to get more experience of British basketball before they can turn into a team of title contenders.
With that in mind, he has organised a friendly against Huddersfield Heat, one of the EBL’s leading lights.
He intends to work on rotations and offensive and defensive plays – as well as making sure the players are used to playing with both Flournoy and Charles Smith, who have missed some games through injury.
Flournoy added: “We need a game because next week is a very big week for us.”
A tough November includes games against Surrey and Manchester – which Newcastle should win – before a Cup quater-final clash against Glasgow and the second of their three-match series with Worcester.
Newcastle need to win that to prevent them falling behind their Midlands rivals. That means there will be an added intensity to the Huddersfield fixture.
Flournoy said: “We have trained hard but at some point you need games again. It’s a friendly so we will get the opportunity to learn from it.
“We have had a big stretch without games and we need to be kicking on, both offensively and defensively.
“We need to re-inforce the points we have made in training sessions and we need to re-inforce the things we have learned from the first few games so this game makes sense for us. Now the important thing is for us to start to put those things into practice when the games start again.”