Injuries are starting to take their toll on Newcastle Eagles, but player-coach Fabulous Flournoy is refusing to throw in young players for the sake of it.
The Eagles entertain Plymouth Raiders at Sport Central this evening without leading figures Scott Martin and Paul Gause.
Neither has recovered from the injuries picked up in last week’s 103-100 win over Cheshire Phoenix, but that does not necessarily mean Flournoy will be dipping into his development squad for reinforcements.
“We’re still struggling at the minute with bodies,” the New York-born play-caller admitted. “It’s one of those things.
“We were fine, then all of a sudden we got inflicted by two injuries in the same game, in the first quarter and the third quarter.
“It’s just one of those things, it happens.
“Scott just moved the wrong way and tweaked a nerve in his back. It inflamed for a couple of days and he was stiff as a board.
“Paul injured his hamstring, and that can take anywhere from ten to 21 days.
“Right now, with the amount of games coming up (nine before the end of February) it’s going to be difficult for us.
“But I’ve never been one to drop players in just to do it, because it sends the wrong message to the guys we’ve got, and the spectators.
“We have a system which we play and in that system everyone has to be of the (right) calibre.
“Just putting players in can lead to chaos because they won’t know what we’re doing.
“The only other thing I have to worry about is in terms numbers to fill the team if we do pick up any more injuries.
“But I won’t be bringing players in just so they can sit on the end of the bench.”
Plymouth are sixth in the British Basketball League, and with twice the number of defeats as the Eagles, not really involved in what looks set to be a four-way title race between Worcester Wolves, Leicester Riders, Sheffield Sharks and Newcastle.
That does not make them a soft touch, as they showed when edging out an 89-87 win in October.
“They have a lot of talent,” Flournoy said. “They’re arguably the most talented team in the league, so we know they’re going to be tough opponents.
“In the last three or four years they’ve been up there as a top four or five side. They need a little bit more time but they can be that again this season.
“I’ve been in the league a long time and it’s a very long time since we’ve had so many teams still competing at this stage of the season.
“Usually by now you will have one team dominating, one battling and another looking for them to slip up.
“This year there are four teams on a par with each other.”
That said, thoughts of the title are the last thing in Flournoy’s mind at the moment.
“I’m just concentrating on us because the team’s still young and new in style, so we’re concentrating on building our foundation and getting us to understand how we need to play,” he said.
“Equally, I’m thinking about our injuries to two key guys.” That will put extra pressure on the rest, something captain Charles Smith in particular responded brilliantly to in the weekend BBL Trophy win over Essex Leopards.
“Every game we play is a test,” Flournoy insisted.
“This game is no different to the rest because every week questions are asked of us.”
The Eagles’ reward for winning in Essex was a home draw in the Trophy quarter-finals, although they will have to wait until a week on Sunday to learn their opponents.
London Lions face Worcester for the right to play Newcastle, in mid-February.
Durham Wildcats are at home to Surrey Heat in this evening’s BBL.