It’s tough but we can see signs of an upturn

Isaac Mourier
Isaac Mourier
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We know Leeds Force can compete against teams like we did for large parts against Sheffield last week, but it’s a matter of how long we can stick with our opposition.

We have to make sure we’re coming out of half-time ready to fight – extra perseverance and determination from every player is key to that, and it’s those late-game situations where we all need to have the right attitude if we’re to come away with a win.

We played more as a unit defensively in the Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Sharks last week, and we held them well under 100 points which is a target we’ve been setting ourselves to achieve a lot recently.

Making sure we have competent defence is something we’re hugely conscious about – there’s obviously a lot room for improvement, but we’re clearly heading in the right direction in that area.

We’re not really a high-scoring team right now, but to be fair we never used to be. Traditionally in recent seasons, Leeds Force have won games by being relentless defensively, so we need to bring that toughness back and I think we’re beginning to make inroads in that department.

It definitely helps having someone like Mo Williams on the court protecting the rim, and he’s someone who’s had a positive impact since he joined Leeds Force.

With some very tall guys like Mo and Gazmend Sinani on our team, it would be stupid not to use them as much as we possibly can both offensively and defensively. Mo is a finesse player with a very soft touch, and he’s incredibly experienced, whilst Gaz is completely the opposite in that he’s a very aggressive and explosive player.

They’re both tenacious guys, and an incredibly tough combo for any team to try and take on. We need to get the ball into them often and early, and if we do that then we have a chance of doing some damage to some strong sides in the coming weeks. With only eight guys on our roster currently, having that versatility and balance as a player is imperative. Everyone needs to be willing to come on the court and do a job to the benefit of the team rather than themselves, whether that’s playing out of position or taking on a role you’re not all too familiar with.

We all have to step up at the moment, I’ve had to play effectively every single position on the court at times across the season, and if that’s something the team needs then it’s something we all have to deliver.

Of course, while results are important, we have to try and enjoy ourselves as a unit – having a positive mindset can be the start of a turnaround for any team, and if we’re prepared mentally then we can win games.

If we’re going to win a game then we’re going to have to fight for it – it won’t be pretty, it’ll be gritty and scrappy but if that’s what it takes then we’ll do what’s necessary.

Glasgow will be playing with a diminished roster because of guys competing at the Commonwealth games on the Gold Coast, so that’s an area we’ll definitely be looking to exploit – they’ll have far less experience on the floor than when we played them earlier this season, so we will have to take our chances.

That’s it for this week’s column, thanks for reading and we hope to see you down at Carnegie Sports Arena on Friday (7.30pm) as we take on Glasgow Rocks to kick-off our run of three consecutive home games.

Interview: Seb Gigner