Cheshire Phoenix general manager James Brice believes that the approach the club have adopted towards recruitment for this season will lead to more stability this term.
For the past two seasons the club have undergone wholesale personnel changes during the campaign for a variety of different reasons, from poor performance on the court to falling foul of club rules. This summer has seen Cheshire have to build from the ground up once more, with key men from last season such as Demond Watt, Taylor King and Dustin Salisbery all departing for pastures new.
Club captain David Aliu, so influential last term, will return for another season to lead the Nix at their new arena in Ellesmere Port, while UK guard Martyn Gayle will pull on a Cheshire jersey after he signed a new deal in the summer after impressing since joining from Manchester Giants towards the end of the last campaign.
And with BBL big-guns Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders welcoming back most of their rosters for another season, Brice is hopeful that the considered approach taken during the off-season will mean that the Nix have assembled a side that can stay together and bring success on the floor.
“You look back through the history of the successful teams in the BBL and you'll see the likes of Newcastle, a stable team who bring in one or two imports. Leicester are the same, they have re-signed pretty much the whole team,” said Brice, who began his role as general manager of the Nix at the beginning of the month.
“We are looking for stability and long-term because it is important. Financially, people still look at last years budget compared to this year's, but this year's is bigger than teams in the past that have been successful and won trophies. Budgets don't always necessarily correlate success, that happens in any sport.”
“We have to bring in the right players who can do well and fit in to the puzzle on the court and off the court. Engagement is key to our fanbase. It is equally important to us as what they do on the court. If you have the best player in the world and he is difficult off it then we don't want him.
“You have to think of the players that are the best for the club and who can drive the club forward and who is going to portray the club in a professional way and in the way that we want it run.
“We're working very hard pre-season, there has been a real emphasis on finding the right type of players to bring to the club. If we have a successful season this year and we're able to re-sign the whole team next year then that's only a good thing for the club. Hopefully we can win a trophy."
The Nix have signed 18-year-old England international Sedale Hanson-Young and American point guard Sean McGonagill, a graduate from Brown University who played professionally with German side Giants Dusseldorf last season. They have also added 6ft 8ins American Jeff Dirkin, out of Rollins College, Florida, a forward who is likely to feature off the bench and who holds a British passport.
The club are hoping to add up to another four new signings before the start of the new season with three of them likely to be members of a new-look starting five for the Nix, who are under the stewardship of head coach John Lavery this season following the departure of affable New Yorker John Coffino at the end of the last campaign.
LOOK: Cheshire Phoenix's final game at the Northgate Arena
Despite the BBL promising to be one of the strongest in recent years this season, with clubs such as Surrey Scorchers recruiting impressively enough to be considered viable play-off contenders, Brice believes that Cheshire fans should have no fears that the club will fall behind the rest following an impressive season last year, believing that the players coming in, added to the confirmed roster, will ensure that the club are force to be reckoned with.
“I'm 100% confident that we can be competitive,” said Brice. “We feel we have recruited well and done the best we can possibly do. We believe we have put together a winning team for the fans and we feel that we can be up there pushing at the top end with the best set-ups in the league.”
The Nix are running a special 'two for a tenner' ticket offer for their first BBL clash at their new Cheshire Oaks Arena home on Sunday, September 20 (5.30pm) against North West rivals Manchester Giants.
To take advantage of the offer visit www.cheshirephoenix.com.