VCARS.co.uk D1 Men preview: All teams in action on opening weekend
There is a full slate of 7 games on Saturday as the VCARS.co.uk Division 1 Men season tips off.
Leicester Warriors v Bristol Academy Flyers
Saturday 27 October, 3pm, Braunstone Leisure Centre
The season tips off at 3pm on Saturday with Leicester Warriors hosting Bristol Academy Flyers. This is a match-up of the teams that were defeated in the Playoff semi finals last season, after Bristol finished second in the table and Leicester finished fifth.
Flyers won all three match-ups between the teams last term and with a similar line-up to last season will be looking for a win to start the season.
Medway Park Crusaders v Westminster Warriors
Saturday 27 October, 5:15pm, Medway Park
Medway Park Crusaders and Westminster Warriors each begin their second season in Division 1 with a clash at Medway Park on Saturday.
Both teams come into the game on the back of positive results with Crusaders picking up two wins last weekend to claim third spot in their National Trophy pool and Warriors picking up their first victory of the season against Bristol.
Warriors won both games between the teams last season, which was noteworthy considering that they only won one other league game all season (against PAWS London Capital) on their way to a 12th place finish.
Team Northumbria v Leeds Carnegie
Saturday 27 October, 6pm, Sport Central
Two of Division 1's university-based programs meet on Saturday as Team Northumbria host Leeds Carnegie.
Northumbria are in their first season at this level having topped Division 2 and won the Playoffs last season. They finished their Trophy campaign at 3-3, including a 62-47 victory over Leeds just a fortnight ago.
Leeds will be looking to re-establish themselves as a threat to win silverware after finishing 10-14 last year, just one year removed from making the playoff and Trophy finals.
Bradford Dragons v Brixton Topcats
Saturday 27 October, 6:15pm, Bradford College
Brixton Topcats open their season with a trip to West Yorkshire on Saturday to face Bradford Dragons.
Dragons won both contests last term and will be confident of starting the new season with a win after topping their Trophy pool. On the other hand Topcats finished 0-6 in Trophy play, so will be desperate to put in a good performance at the weekend.
Dragons forward Dennis Scott says his team know what to expect from Topcats: "They are very physical, fast and tough. The key will be for us to outrebound them and if we play smart we will win the game."
Hemel Storm v Reading Rockets
Saturday 27 October, 7pm, Sportspace
Hemel Storm begin the inaugural VCARS.co.uk Division 1 season and their first at this level by hosting Reading Rockets on Saturday.
Storm finished second in Division 2 last season, winning 16 of 20 games and also won the Patrons Cup for the second consecutive season. They have started the season well with a 4-2 Trophy record securing them a spot in the quarter finals.
There are a number of ex-Rockets on the Storm roster, alongside Hemel coach Dave Titmuss, whose time at Reading included a perfect 36-0 season in 2008/09.
Rockets lost last weekend by a point to Bradford and can no longer make the Trophy quarter finals, so they will be keen to make a good run at the Division 1 crown, starting at the weekend.
Reading coach Samit Nuruzade is after more consistency from his team: "The defeat to Bradford last Saturday was a tough one to take especially as we led for the entire game. I felt we played well for the majority of the game but once again some lapses cost us at very key points in the game, none other than with 1.7 seconds to go!
"We need to make sure that when we lead in a game we push on rather than let teams have a run back at us and that is something as coaching staff we will be looking at closely in the coming weeks. I don't feel we are that far off but other than the game against Bristol [Rockets won 66-58], we haven't put in a good, consistent performance and in this league that is what we need to do."
Reading will have a new player available to them at the weekend in former Plymouth Raiders and Guildford Heat center Tomas Janusauskas.
Worthing Thunder v Essex Leopards
Saturday 27 October, 7:30pm, Worthing Leisure Centre
Essex Leopards begin their defence of the Division 1 title with a trip to Worthing Thunder on Saturday.
Leopards crushed Thunder 90-64 in the Trophy just a few weeks ago and followed that up with a 81-61 win at Hemel Storm, so they will go into this game full of confidence that they can start the league season in a positive manner.
Leopards forward Carl Josey commented: "I thought the Hemel game showed glimpses of our true potential this season, the fact that we were mature enough so early on to create a big lead and maintain it goes a long way. Again just like the Worthing game it was a great team effort from everybody, when we play with that type of effort and unselfishness it makes life quite easy on the basketball court."
Thunder picked up their first Trophy win last weekend with an 86-69 success against Brixton.
Derby Trailblazers v Tees Valley Mohawks
Saturday 27 October, 7:30pm, Moorways
Derby Trailblazers and Tees Valley Mohawks start their VCARS.co.uk Division 1 Men season with a clash at Moorways on Saturday evening.
Mohawks will be full of confidence after a 5-1 Trophy campaign that saw them top their pool, but face a tough trip to a Derby club that won the Trophy last season and made the Playoff final.
Tees Valley coach Steve Butler commented: "Derby are a very good team and started the season well, they had a tough weekend losing both games last weekend, but against very good opposistion of Bradford and Leeds. Coach Maudsley will pick his guys up at training this week and get them ready for this weekend. We've got to be aware of [Nick] Rose, [Tom] Sherlock and [Martyn] Gayle who have started the season well, but that's something we will be foucusing on in training this week."
By a quirk of the schedule, these teams also opened their campaigns against each other last season in a game that Trailblazers won 104-87 at home. Derby also won the return fixture in January, returning from Middlesbrough with a 99-76 success under their belts.