Carnegie basketball head coach: We’re only halfway on the journey to matching elite

Matt Newby.
Matt Newby.
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Carnegie basketball head coach Matt Newby says he needs to strike a balance between staying loyal to his current players and strengthening his roster with experienced hands as the Leeds club plot a course for the BBL.

The Leeds Met-based team join the basketball elite in the summer after eight years of building through the national pyramid.

They got their first taste of the opposition they will face on a weekly basis last Friday night when they lost 84-48 to established franchise Glasgow Rocks in the BBL Trophy.

As much as it was a positive night for top-flight basketball in the city, the game did expose some shortcomings in a team that traditionally plies its trade in the English national league.

The result suggests that a greater depth of talent is required if Leeds are to make a good fist of their elevation into the top flight.

But, by describing their ascension as only half the journey completed, Newby hinted that he is keen to let the players who have taken them so far have a shot at the big time.

“We’ve got to find a balance,” said Newby, who has a good network of scouts and contacts in leagues across North America and Europe.

“I think our more experienced players recognise where we need to be for the future. Do we need to compliment this roster with a little bit of experience? Do we need to compliment it with some more talent? Potentially.

“Ultimately, we’ve got to find where we may have gaps at this level. At English national league level, we match up with pretty much every team, we’re strong physically and in terms of experience. At BBL, we’ve either got to go up a gear or find people who are going to step into those roles.

“It’s an eight-year build but it’s going to be a 15-year journey to be right at the top of the top flight.”

Carnegie have today announced a strategic partnership with Leeds Rugby to help promote the club in the community and attract the sponsorship they will need merely to exist in the BBL from the summer onwards.

Last Friday’s successful evening off the court suggests they have a marketable product.

“The atmosphere was excellent and I’d like to thank Mark Mills and Oliver Hylands, the guys behind the scenes, for their hard work in creating a family atmosphere,” added Newby.

“It was obviously going to be a highlight in the calendar but what impressed me was there were so many new faces there to see us play.

“It’s an exciting time for the programme.”

On the link up with the rugby club, Newby added: “Leeds Rugby has set the benchmark for professionalism both on and off the field and, in terms of pedigree, we could not ask for a better stable-mate.”

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