D1: Trailblazers take on Kent Crusaders and Leicester Warriors back-to-back
For the ninth time this season, Derby Trailblazers face back-to-back games, starting with a home match against Kent Crusaders on Saturday night (7:15pm), before making the short trip to Leicester Warriors on Sunday afternoon (1:30pm).
Both teams will be disappointed by their current records this season and will therefore keen to improve on their current standing; Kent are battling to avoid relegation, while Leicester are currently fighting for a play-off place.
Kent are currently second from bottom, with a 1-13 record; their only success having come in the form of a 72-68 away win over Bradford Dragons. However, they have been improving in recent weeks and will almost certainly be stronger than they were when Derby won 77-58 at Medway Park back in November.
As for Leicester, their 5-9 league record leaves them just outside the play-off places and although Derby have already beaten them three times in league, cup and trophy fixtures, nothing can ever be taken for granted when it comes to local derbies.
The Trailblazers Performance Analyst Michael Hanson-Morris says with just ten games of the regular season remaining, this weekend provides an excellent opportunity to move another step closer to clinching a playoff spot:
“Reaching the post-season was our primary aim for this season,” he said. “Once we’ve done that, and only when we’ve done it, is it safe to sit down and reassess our aims and objectives for the remainder of the season.
“Last Sunday was a disappointment not just because of the result, but also because we got away from the type of performances which have worked so well for us recently, especially in the second half. We also missed several foul shots which was uncharacteristic.
“However, despite losing the game, we still managed to take the head to head against a potential top four team and that’s another good step for us on our journey.
“As we look to this weekend, it’s fair to say Kent are doing exactly what we predicted after playing them in November, namely making small steps forward each and every week and they are very close to breaking out of their poor run and putting a few wins together in close succession.
“Coach Vear and his staff prepare well for every game and for sure, they will look to make life very difficult for us by providing a variety of challenges.
“I have little doubt they are the most improved side from when we last played them. Their performances against both Hemel and Reading were impressive and the Crusaders could quite easily have won either game.
“They’re a very young squad who will play with a high energy level and intensity and it’s something we must be prepared for and be prepared to match or exceed to maintain control of the game and play the game at our tempo.
“As for Leicester, they are currently ninth and just outside of the playoffs on current standings. I think they will therefore see this game as on opportunity to kick start a chase to catch up the group of teams just a couple of games ahead of them.
“The two times we played them at home we trailed going into the fourth quarter and that speaks volumes of how tough a team they are. There aren’t many teams in this league who have six players averaging double figures and that kind of versatility can hurt you in different ways and make them tricky to play against.
“Aside from Leome Francis, they aren’t a particularly tall team, so it’s surprising they comfortably lead the league in offensive rebounding. Finishing defensive possessions will therefore be a key focus for us in this game, as well as being something we must continue to improve on in general in as we move towards the end of the regular season,” he said.
Saturday’s home game against Kent Crusaders is a 7:15pm tip-off at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall in Alvaston, with a chance to join the team to socialise afterwards at The Lodge – Flaming Grill Pub on Grange Road. Sunday’s game is a 1:30pm tip-off at Braunstone Leisure Centre, Hamelin Way in Leicester.
The full line up of game for the weekend is as follows:
D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers v Kent Crusaders; 7:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall
D3 Men (N): Birmingham Mets v Derby Trailblazers II; 2pm at Birmingham Met College
U18 Men (NPL): Leicester Riders v Derby Trailblazers; 3:30pm at Charnwood College
U16 Men (MDL): Leicester Warriors II v Derby Trailblazers; 3:00pm at Gateway College
U14 Men (NPL): Leeds Force v Derby Trailblazers; 1:00pm at LBU Court 1
U16 Boys (MDL): Nottingham Wildcats v Derby Trailblazers; 12Noon at Nottingham Wildcats Arena
D1 Men: Leicester Warriors v Derby Trailblazers; 1:30pm at Braunstone Leisure Centre
Men’s NEDL: Sunderland City Predators v Derby Trailblazers III; 3:30pm at City Space, Sunderland
U14 Boys (NPL): Derby Trailblazers v Sheffield Junior Sharks; 2:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall
U14 Boys (MDL): Derby Trailblazers II v Worcester Bears; 12:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall
Live updates for most games can be found by following www.facebook.com/derbytrailblazersclub or @derbyblazers on Twitter. All the latest news is also online at www.derbytrailblazers.com
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