FAB Flournoy has accused his Newcastle Eagles of lacking “belief” after they surrendered the BBL Cup to Leicester Riders.
Flournoy’s men were narrowly beaten by the Riders in Birmingham last weekend to hand the initiative to Leicester in the battle for BBL supremacy, a result which left the Eagles’ coach bitterly disappointed.
It also leaves him mounting a rearguard action against accusations his team are not up to the standards set by the all-conquering class of 2012.
Flournoy is confident they can fight back and win the remaining three pieces of silverware – but he admits he is less sure if his team share that feeling.
“I’m confident we can still win the rest of the trophies but I don’t know if my team are,” he told The Journal.
“We’re going to find out, aren’t we? I cannot put it more simply than that.
“On Sunday it wasn’t the fact the coaching staff didn’t believe but at times I felt like the team didn’t.
“We put ourselves in a position where we had our backs to the wall and we came out fighting.
“At that point we had a big hole to dig ourselves out of but we recovered and it became a 50-50 ball game.
“It could have gone either way and it went against us. We need to be a dominant team, not a ‘50-50 ball game’ team.”
Flournoy spent yesterday afternoon poring through the game tapes with assistant Dave Forrester trying to pin-point exactly what went wrong at the National Indoor Arena.
He will address his team again today and tell them he expects them to improve and to address the psychological demons which undermined their attempt to retain the BBL Cup.
A big factor was undoubtedly the ring rust from the team’s inaction over Christmas, but there were also issues with a poor start and an inability to convert in key moments.
Flournoy added: “It’s just about moving ourselves forward and picking ourselves up now.
“That’s the start of it, then we’ll be assessing ourselves and whether the coaching staff did enough. The next step for us after that is making sure we get into the players the message we can improve. From this point on we must improve and we must start to believe as well.”
The recovery process begins tomorrow night when Sheffield Sharks visit Sport Central eager to rub the Eagles’ noses in it in front of their own court. Flournoy is not worried about his team repeating their below-par start but will now look for signs they have learned the lessons of their day in Birmingham.
He said: “I have no doubt the team will respond and win matches.
“The only doubt in my mind is whether the team believe we have a side which can dominate.”