With the BBL Championship getting into full swing in November, title challengers Vince Macaulay and Geno Crandall have added to their trophy cabinets with awards for their performances over the last month.
London Lions’ Head Coach Macaulay picks up the Kevin Cadle Molten BBL Coach of the Month award after his team were a dominant 4-0 in November, the only team with a perfect record, and progressed through to the BBL Cup semi-finals after topping their group and coming through a quarter-final fixture in recent weeks.
Lions won all four of those games by double-digits and twice went through the century mark, averaging 99 points per game in November. Overall, and across all competitions, they are currently the BBL’s best offence at an average of 93 points per game, and the league’s best defence, allowing opponents just 76 points per contest. Building on last season – when they won the BBL Trophy and were runners-up in both the Cup and Play-offs – the identity of Macaulay’s team is clear as they lead the league in transition scoring and fast break points, scoring a highly impressive 60% on the inside – by far the best in the BBL – and being the third most accurate three-point shooters.
That is enabled by a stifling defence as the only team in the league that holds opponents beneath a field goal percentage of 40%, while also blocking a league-high 5.4 shots per game led by the BBL’s leading shot blocker, Kylor Kelley.
Perhaps most impressively, Lions started November by opening their BBL Championship campaign – looking to go one better than last year’s second place – live on Sky Sports with a destructive 113-74 defeat of Cheshire Phoenix at the Copper Box Arena. As they have done numerous times this season, Lions stamped their authority from the off in front of the cameras, with a 14-2 start as Dirk Williams scored 10 early points; while one of the highlights of the month has been the growth of Jordan Williams, a transfer coup of Macaulay’s over the summer, as he posted a triple-double in that game of 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
They were equally dominant in their BBL Cup quarter-final at home against B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, winning all four quarters and ending 100-68 victors as Lorenzo Cugini (28) and Dirk Williams (22) combined for half of their points. Lions had previously topped the BBL Cup South Group after beating rivals Leicester Riders 97-83 earlier in the month – Leicester’s only defeat of the season so far – in a strong finish as another new recruit, Isaiah Reese, had a near triple-double of 17 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. They rounded out November with a road win at Surrey Scorchers, again leading from tip-to-buzzer – in fact, across all four games in November, they have spent just six and a half minutes trailing.
Macaulay now leads his team into a busy December, with seven BBL fixtures starting live on Sky Sports on the road at Newcastle Eagles on Friday night, and also including a home clash with high-flying Manchester Giants and the BBL Cup semi-final against Leicester.
Meanwhile, Leicester’s star point guard Geno Crandall has been awarded the Molten BBL Player of the Month for November, after an excellent start to the campaign that has seen him build on his Molten BBL Player of the Season award from last year.
He has already been elected to the weekly BBL All-Star 5 on five occasions this season, more than any other player and including twice in the last three weeks, as through his five games in November he averaged 19 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals per outing, shooting 50% from three-point range and 90% at the free-throw line.
Perhaps most importantly, Crandall made a crucial contribution in Leicester’s BBL Cup quarter-final win over Cheshire, finishing with 24 points and seven assists in a narrow one-point win as, checking back in with four minutes to play and persevering through foul trouble, he scored eight points down the stretch and finished with the key drive-and-dish for Jubril Adekoya that won the game with just a few seconds to play.
He was close to a double-double in all three of his BBL Championship outings in November, finishing with nine assists on each occasion while scoring 20 or more points in back-to-back games last weekend, including 24 against Surrey Scorchers on 5-7 (71%) three-pointers. He is currently second in the league in assists (8.8) during BBL Championship play, and joint-second in steals (2.8) while leading the BBL Cup competition in that category (3.0) and also total free-throws made (45).
Pushing on from his fantastic debut season on these shores, his long-range threat is perhaps his most improved area as he is currently shooting 42% on more than four attempts per game, upping that to 50% on five attempts in November, and compared to 29% on three attempts in his two previous professional seasons.
Led by Crandall, Riders went 4-1 in all competitions last month, and are currently a perfect 4-0 in the defence of their BBL Championship title. He also faces a busy December with six games, including that crunch BBL Cup semi-final against London and starting this weekend with a home tie against Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks.