JOHN Lavery launches his Cheshire Jets reign this weekend by having to cope with a hastily-arranged fixture change – but he says the last-minute switch has not hit his preparations for the campaign’s opening home clash.
The Jets were due to welcome Mersey Tigers to the Northgate Arena on Sunday in the BBL Trophy, but rumours the Tigers have hit financial difficulties seemed to be backed up when the BBL announced yesterday that the Jets would instead face Group Two rivals Sheffield Sharks.
As it stands, the start of the Tigers’ season has been ‘postponed’, but new Jets head coach Lavery insists it has not altered his gameplan.
“We are still preparing as we were,” he said. “It’s not ideal but we are focused on doing our job.
“This early in the season players are still fresh and we have been concentrating on getting used to each other and gelling on-court.”
It is a process the Jets have had to go through in double-quick time.
They travelled to Plymouth last weekend having only been together five days and suffered defeats in a friendly tournament to Plymouth Raiders and Swedish top-flight side Sodertalje Kings.
But Lavery was happy with the work that was done and believes it will stand the Jets in good stead as they target silverware this season.
“We set ourselves targets to work through and the players did that,” he said. “That is what we are doing this season. The players have individual targets and team targets and I have set myself targets for my first season as head coach.
“One of those is to bring some silverware to the Jets, as it has been a long time since the club won a trophy.”
The Jets will run one of the tallest line-ups in the BBL this season, but the squad is thin and Lavery is keenly aware that if the club is to be successful, they have to avoid injuries and foul-outs.
“We deliberately went for height, especially at point guard in Adam Brown,” he said. “Every other team in the Championship has recruited guards of 5ft 10ins up to 6ft and we are counting on Adam’s height to give us the edge.
“But we have a lot of rookies and a thin bench. We are fortunate that Colin (O’Reilly), Matt (Schneck) and Shawn (Myers) are not players who miss many games through injury, but we have to watch out for getting into foul trouble.
“If we can do that I believe we have a strong chance of winning something this season.”
Before welcoming the Sharks to the Northgate Arena this Sunday (5.30pm), the Jets tip off their Group Two campaign with a trip to Sheffield tomorrow (7.30pm).
Meet the new coach and Jets fixture list – page 84.