NBL Division 2 Men - Mid-Season Review

Division 2 Men

 

Nottingham Hoods

Record: 9-0

Position: 1st

Points For Per Game: 85.9

Points Against Per Game: 62.7

Game this weekend: @ Sussex – Live Stats

Few would have pegged Nottingham to lead D2W at the Christmas break and even fewer would have put forward that the Hoods would be unbeaten at this point as well. Still, it’s no accident. The league leaders have a solid offence and the stingiest defence in D2M. A long trip South to Sussex this week will be difficult logistically, but the Hoods have shown so far this season that once they’re on the court, they're taking care of business.

Nottingham Hoods’ Delany Powell, “I think the season is going great so far. Personally, I feel that we have achieved so much and progressed so much, in comparison to last season. Everybody is on the same page, from the coach, down to the 12th man. We have hit a couple targets we set out to do at the start of the season and hope to achieve the rest of them in the coming months. 2. We still have one more game left in 2017 though, that is a must win contest for us.”

 

Thames Valley Cavaliers

Record: 8-2

Position: 2nd

Points For Per Game: 87.4

Points Against Per Game: 75.1

Game this weekend: v Ipswich – Live Stats

It is no surprise that the Cavs are once again in the hunt for promotion to D1M. What did come as a shock was that Thames Valley stumbled out of the blocks and began the season 0-2. 8 wins on the spin have since vaulted the side back into contention at the top, but with the unbeaten Hoods top of the tree, those early losses could come back to haunt Coach Banks’ side. Martelle McLemore averages 22.78PPG and 5APG and will no doubt continue to be one of the major cogs for the Cavs as the head into 2018.

Head Coach Robert Banks, “We have rebounded quite well after a slow start to the season but still have a couple of key players out. Having said that, the players who have been available have been playing very good basketball and starting to build an identity as a team. Our goals for 2018 are very simple. Firstly, get all of our players healthy, back on the court and playing good basketball. To play consistent, good high-level basketball. Secondly, we need to work toward attaining a promotion into D1M as well as to collect some silverware along the way.”

 

Liverpool

Record: 6-4

Position: 3rd

Points For Per Game: 68.7

Points Against Per Game: 66.1

Game this weekend: v Birmingham – Live Stats

Liverpool might be the surprise of 2017/18 in D2M were it not for the Hoods stealing the spotlight. So close to relegation a season ago before a late run secured their safety, Liverpool have left all memory of that season firmly behind them to be involved in the conversation at the other end of the standings in 2017/18. David Ulph has been a leader on offence, with the big man averaging 25.4PPG and 13.4RPG on the season. His availability seems to be as much of a handicap for Liverpool as anything at the moment, so getting him on the floor more will be a priority. 2 of Liverpool’s first 3 games of 2018 are v Thames Valley and @ Nottingham. The results of those games could go a long way to deciding Liverpool's promotion bid for this year.

Head Coach Delme Herriman, “It’s been a whirlwind of a season so far. With highs of winning in Thames Valley, to losing at home to Essex by 2 and losing in Ipswich with 5 starters unavailable. I realistically think we should be 9-1 at present before our game this weekend A key match-up will be playing Thames Valley at home first game back after the break. It’s a must win for us if we want to get a chance of promotion. Finishing 2nd and gaining promotion would be a realistic goal and would be fantastic!”

 

Westminster Warriors

Record: 5-5

Position: 4th

Points For Per Game: 79.5

Points Against Per Game: 77.8

Game this weekend: N/A

After going 2-24 in D1M last season, Westminster have done well to change the culture from a year ago and get the team heading in the right direction again. You feel that any side in the playoffs that has aspirations for promotion will need to measure themselves next to Thames Valley and Nottingham. To that end, the Warriors have already lost once to both those sides. However, it’s a long season where anything can happen. The Hoods still need to travel to London to face Westminster, and there are plenty of opportunities for the unexpected to happen. Jon Johnson’s 20.1PPG can’t be understated in the Warriors early season form.

 

Ipswich

Record: 5-5

Position: 5th

Points For Per Game: 78.6

Points Against Per Game: 83.0

Game this weekend: @ Thames Valley – Live Stats

After the loss of senior players from their side in Lee Greenan and Tom Sadler, Ipswich have done well to maintain their form in D2M and look set for another finish in the middle of the playoff places. Last season’s 12-10 record looks attainable, but the Suffolk side will no doubt have their sights set on an improvement in that department. No team has conceded more points per game this season, so that is an area of concern for the team going forward. This weekend’s game in Thames Valley might not offer a lot of help in that department either.

 

Essex Leopards

Record: 4-2

Position: 6th

Points For Per Game: 86.8

Points Against Per Game: 81.8

Game this weekend: v MiddlesexLive Stats

Essex’s bid for promotion straight back to D1M at the first time of asking appears to have faltered somewhat, dropping 8 points off the pace behind Thames Valley, though the Leopards do have 4 games in hand to make up the ground. No team has played fewer games than Essex to this point so their 2018 calendar may get a bit hectic as the end of the regular season begins to move into sight. Their offensive output to this point has been excellent, suggesting they have the firepower to move up the standings at the very least, even if they have struggled a little on the defensive end.

 

Team Birmingham Elite

Record: 4-5

Position: 7th

Points For Per Game: 69.7

Points Against Per Game: 71

Game this weekend: @ Liverpool – Live Stats

2-2 in their last 4, Birmingham would love a win to finish 2017, especially against a team so high in the standings. Liverpool won’t make it easy for their hosts, but in Janis Steda and Ritvars Lacitis, Birmingham have a solid due who have paced their offensive efforts so far. Holding onto a playoff spot at the moment, staying the course in the top 8 would represent a real achievement in Birmingham’s first season in D2M.

 

Sussex Bears

Record: 4-6

Position: 8th

Points For Per Game: 67.0

Points Against Per Game: 71.2

Game this weekend: v Nottingham – Live Stats

A similar story for Sussex, it has been a learning curve since their promotion but the side have more than held their own as they tested the waters in D2M. Wins against Essex, Westminster and Derbyshire suggest that Sussex will be able to do enough to hover around their current position, barring all but the worst dip in form. Challenging further up the table may be more of a reach, though this weekend’s game in Nottingham may provide a more conclusive answer to that one.

 

Derbyshire Arrows

Record: 4-5

Position: 9th

Points For Per Game: 71.1

Points Against Per Game: 76.4

Game this weekend: N/A

Derbyshire will be disappointed to have closed 2017 under .500, but based on their early form things could have been much worse. A 1-4 run to open the season suggested that the campaign was going to be a struggle, but the form of Joseph Baugh, who averages 18PPG helped to fuel wins against Greenhouse and Birmingham. 3 of the Arrows first 4 games in 2018 are at home, where the side have looked at their best. You have to feel those games will be important to this side’s fortunes.

Head Coach Jonny Kelly, “It’s nice to close out the first part of the season and get our record to a respectful 4-5 when we were 1-4. That was big for our young group to show the right desire and poise at a high pressure moment. In 2018, we will be able to continue to learn as we mature and target promotion in a couple of years’ time. Winning our home games will be key and we hope that our faithful home fans will get to see some entertaining and most importantly, winning basketball.”

 

London Greenhouse Pioneers

Record: 2-7

Position: 10th

Points For Per Game: 66.1

Points Against Per Game: 71.3

Game this weekend: N/A

3 teams are beginning to be cast adrift as we reach Christmas, all on 4 points. Whilst not an insurmountable margin, it is still a mental factor to see a gap to the team’s ahead. Outside of a 20-0 forfeit win against Middlesex, the Pioneers haven’t won in D2M since the opening day of the season back on 7 October. Beginning 2018 with home ties against newly promoted duo Sussex and Birmingham will be important. Failing to pick up points from those games could see Greenhouse fall away even further.

Head Coach Predrag Krneta, "It has been a very challenging season in many aspects. The absence of key players due to injuries, health issues and work commitments, lack of team practice and inexperience of playing at this level from our young core of players have been the main reasons for results achieved thus far. However, our junior players have had an opportunity to compete against men and that's something we have to take into account as a positive looking ahead to the second part of the season.  As we have pretty much everyone healthy now, we are aiming to improve our winning record but more importantly we want to play better basketball in terms of individual and team defence as well as tuning in on the offensive end of the floor. "

 

Middlesex LTBC

Record: 2-7

Position: 11th

Points For Per Game: 54.2

Points Against Per Game: 65.3

Game this weekend: @ Essex – Live Stats

Beginning the season 2-1, there was plenty of reason for optimism for Middlesex LTBC as they began their campaign. Since then, form and results have turned dramatically and will more than likely leave the side propping up the D2M table to end the year. With back to back 20-0 forfeits, the side are sure to be hit with a deduction to their current total of 4 points. As a side with only 2 wins, that news will be tough to take. Still, LTBC have the quality to test teams when they are on the court, which is something they need to ensure happens throughout 2018.

 

London Westside

Record: 2-7

Position: 12th

Points For Per Game: 66.6

Points Against Per Game: 79

Game this weekend: N/A

Westside will be best served to keep their most recent games at the forefront of their mind when looking back at 2017. A competitive loss in Nottingham last weekend was preceded by a surprise victory at home to Liverpool the weekend before. That kind of form suggests an uptick in fortunes could be on the cards for the London club in 2018, but they’ll have to work hard if they’re to ensure it happens. Westside have one of the lowest scoring offences in D2M at the moment, something that needs to change if the side are going to start picking up wins in the New Year.

Head Coach Frank Lamptey, “The first part of the season has been a learning curve particularly as a number of our young players have never played at this level before but our last 2 matches vs Liverpool and Nottingham have shown that we can compete and win with the top teams. The next step is about developing that consistency in the second part of the season and becoming a stronger team.”

 

Main photo credit - Essex Leopards