D1: East Midlands rivalry returns as Trailblazers host Leicester
Derby Trailblazers oldest local rivals the Leicester Warriors are back at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre on Saturday night. They arrive off the back of four straight defeats, while the Trailblazers remain unbeaten and top of the NBL Division One league table.
However, with this being a local derby, the form book goes out of the window. Matches between these two sides rarely result in big wins for either side, as local pride and passion takes over as soon as the ball is thrown up by the referees, with the feisty atmosphere continuing right through to the final buzzer.
History shows Derby have normally had the better of their East Midlands rivals, with the Warriors having only won once in the league and just three times in all competitions.
This will be the second meeting of the two sides this season, with Derby having taken the early spoils in a Men’s Trophy Pool match, which they won 65-54 six weeks ago.
Leicester have signed a second American player since then, but at the time of writing, they seemed set to lose one of their better players to Essex Leopards. Derby’s Assistant Coach and Performance Analyst Michael Hanson Morris has been looking ahead:
“We’re now nearly a quarter of the way through our league season and it’s great to have started the way we have. The challenge only gets tougher each week as we now have a target on our back as a team to beat and for sure Leicester are a team that will look forward to the opportunity to give us our first loss of the season.
“There won’t be too many surprises with Leicester and their style and in the Trophy we did a decent job of matching their physicality. Since then they have added American centre Chris McGrew and Rodney Sanders is more settled into their team meaning they have improved vastly from when we saw them six weeks ago.
“They seem very close to turning the corner with their results, having pushed Manchester all the way a fortnight ago. If they had managed to finish some high percentage shots which they would normally expect to make, they would probably have won in Hemel last week.
“That said, they have suffered a blow in losing leading scoring Darrell Bethune to Essex but, it’s possible his departure will allow them to try an even bigger more physical line-up, by moving Leome Francis to three-spot which is something will force us to step up again to match their interior presence.
“We have to continue to improve on both ends of the floor and have worked hard this week in practice trying to add options at both ends on the floors for different player groups we have on the floor. If we can continue to share the scoring out and have six players in double figures we will be a difficult team to beat so it’s now about making that a habit rather than a one off.
“As always, the home crowd can do their bit. Even though we were low on number last weekend because of it being Bonfire Night, the people who were at the game were in good voice and that always gives our own players a huge psychological lift,” he said.
Saturday’s game is a 7.15pm tip-off at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre and a minute’s silence will be observed prior to tip-off as the club joins with people all over the country in paying their respects to those who have given their lives in active service for their country.
The full line up of game for the weekend is as follows:
D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers v Leicester Warriors;
7:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre
D4 Men: Warwickshire Hawks v Derby Trailblazers II;
3:00pm at Warwickshire College Group
U18M Prem: Derby Trailblazers v Team Birmingham Elite;
2:00pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre
U18M Conf: Leicester Warriors v Derby Trailblazers II;
2:00pm at Gateway College
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