ASSISTANT coach Richard Murphy says the Cheshire Jets will rely on their fleet-footed forwards and their tall back-court players in Sunday’s BBL Cup semi-final, first leg.
Murphy, part of Paul Smith’s coaching team alongside John Lavery, is still registered on the playing staff having joined the club in 2003 and knows how important it is for the Jets to get it right in the big Northgate Arena showdown with Sheffield Sharks (5.30pm).
“Against a team like Sheffield, if you give them an inch they take a mile,” said Murphy.
“Guys like Steve Dagostino, Ryan Patton, if they start firing it’s going to be a long night. Last year Patton had 44 or 46 against us so if you let him get going early you’re in trouble.”
The Jets have had to give this game a lot more consideration than the last time the sides met four weeks ago, having lost the services of powerhouse Matt Schneck to suspension since then.
It means the Jets cannot rely on fighting power with power and instead have to be more canny about exploiting the Sharks’ weak spots.
“We’ve highlighted their strengths and their weaknesses and we’re going to target that,” said Murphy.
“They’ve got two small guards in Patton and Dagostino, we’ve got two big guards in Colin O’Reilly and Gareth Murray.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to utilise that to our advantage.
“Also we need to be able to spring fast breaking attacks and go at their big guys because for all they are big and powerful, they are also slow-footed whereas our forwards are quite quick.”
But it is all about the start. Last season the Jets played the second leg of their semi-final against MK Lions at the Northgate Arena and turned a narrow deficit into a win.
This time they need to do enough at home to make a second-leg comeback by Atiba Lyons’ side unlikely.
“We’ve got to get off to a good start defensively and our offence comes from our defence,” said Murphy.
“Our defence has been inconsistent lately but we’ve worked on it and we’re going through the plays that Sheffield run in preparation, but we’re also running our own stuff to make sure all the guys on-court are on the same page defensively.”