University of Chester vs Bristol Hurricanes
NBL Division 2 North
Saturday 19th October 2019
The University of Chester Mens’ Basketball National League Team hosted their first home game of the Division 2 campaign, welcoming Bristol Hurricanes, who, like Chester, are another newly promoted side.
The summer saw considerable change for Chester’s national league side. Coaches, Chris Wilson and Andy Halsall both stepped down after several years with the Club. Former player, Niel Gillard and new Coach, Chris Leonard took over the reins. All while several key players from last season’s double, Dave Thomas, Paul Kelly and Richard McNutt, have hung up their boots, and Niel Gillard has joined BBL side Cheshire Phoenix.
After a brief hiatus with BBL side Manchester Giants, stalwart Phil Brandreth returned in time for the start of season and joined up with the returning Reiss Faure-Daley, Max Jones, Dave Omole, Joe Kincaid, James Strong and Vijay Ramuruth.
The national league side welcomes 5 new players, forming a squad of 12. Joe Etherington and Joe Robinson have both stepped up from the BUCS First Team. A familiar face, and Cheshire resident, Kevin Ozoemelam, made the switch from Liverpool Stars. In a demonstration of the programmes increasing pulling power, a further two new faces at the University have also joined the national league team. Isaac Ray joins after three years with McDaniel College, USA, and Mert Guzel, joins from Barnet Southgate College.
Both Chester and Bristol Hurricanes entered this weekend with a league record of 0-2 in the league. Chester fell short away from home to familiar opponents, Team Birmingham Elite, 77-67, and Charnwood College Riders, 76-68. While Hurricanes lost on the opening weekend 81-80 away to Derbyshire Arrows, and 79-71 away to Bristol Academy Flyers.
This weekend presented an opportunity for both teams to earn their first win in Division 2. Chester were looking to build on the win secured earlier in the week against the University of Sheffield in BUCS Division . The Hurricanes were looking to take momentum from their victory in the Cup last weekend. The Hurricanes are known to be a strong, physical team. Early analysis suggested they posses two stand out performers, Zygimantas Kosarevas and Benas Andriekus who averaged 22 points and 9 rebounds, and 17 and 8 rebounds per game leading into this weekends fixture.
Chester started with Jones, Brandreth, Omole, Faure-Daley and Ray completed the line-up, marking his first home start in the National League. Omole won the jump ball, and Chester started on the front foot with Reiss-Faure attacking the basket and drawing a foul. Off the inbound Jones caught a pass from Faure-Daley and knocked down a deep 2. Hurricanes immediately answered back, utilising their size advantage, they worked the ball inside for a post move and 2 points. These first two baskets characterised the style of play of each team moving forward. Chester looked to move the ball quickly, attack the space left by Hurricanes switching defence and find a player open beyond the arc. The Hurricanes looked to isolate match-ups and use their superior physicality to create shots closer to the basket. Both teams traded baskets early on, with neither team establishing a clear lead. After 8 minutes, Jones suffered a knee injury following a combination of a push and landing awkwardly. The extent of the injury has not yet been confirmed. The quarter ended 16-18 in favour of Hurricanes.
In the first quarter, Chester were slow in transition and failed to exploit the mismatches presented or open gaps created by the opponents switching defence. They changed that in the break. Chester picked up offensively, outscoring Bristol 24 to 18 in the second quarter. Kincaid, Kelly-Brandreth and Omole all hit threes after great ball movement, and Faure-Daley, Strong and Ray attacked the opponents key to great effect, drawing help and creating space. It became notable however, that Chester were being penalised for fouls far more often than the Hurricanes. Chester entered the half with a narrow lead, 40-36.
Chester carried their offensive potency into the third quarter, scoring 25 points, and in spite of being in foul trouble within 2 minutes, were able to hold the Hurricanes to 16 points. A slight change to the defensive system enabled Chester to provide better help defence on isolation situations. Faure-Daley locked in and provided the fans with some inspired moments, including a 360 no-look behind the back pass to Omole, who converted the easy lay-up. Chester ended the quarter with a 13-point lead, 65-52.
Check out the assist here:
The game slowed in the fourth as the Hurricanes tired and Chester slowed down to hold on to the lead. While Hurricanes won the quarter, 15-18, Chester maintained a comfortable lead and ran out winners, 80-70.
It was a well-deserved and much needed win for Chester and a positive performance which they can build on moving forward.
The points were well shared among the team with Kelly-Brandreth leading with 15, followed by Omole, Faure-Daley and Kincaid on 14 and Ray on 9.
Notably, Kelly-Brandreth- and Faure-Daley recorded double-doubles. Kelly-Brandreth recorded 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Faure-Daley provided 14 points and 12 assists.
Next week the First Team are away on Wednesday to Leeds Beckett in BUCS Division 1 and away on Saturday 26th October to Sheffield Hallam.