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Wolves can be the city’s success story
1:00pm Thursday 26th September 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
THIS Saturday sees the start of the British Basketball League season for Worcester Wolves.
With the start of the rugby and football campaigns, coupled with the end of the cricket season, making the headlines, basketball has slipped under the radar.
Yet, Wolves remain one of the best supported teams in Worcester and that is only going to increase now they have moved into the new £15million University Arena on Hylton Road, which has a capacity for 2,000 spectators.
In all likelihood, top-level basketball is where the city will enjoy the majority of its success over the coming months.
The Warriors have only played three games in the Aviva Premiership but already you can hear fans tearing up their seson tickets.
Worcestershire, on the back of relegation in 2012, have endured a dismal year especially in the one-day arena, even if New Road has received a £10m facelift.
Exiled Worcester City had failed to win in eight games before they thrashed Workington last Saturday but, given their well-documented financial issues, were expected to struggle.
Indeed, despite some encouraging displays, they will measure success by whether they manage to avoid relegation.
With all that in mind, Wolves are set to not only buck that trend but smash it to smithereens. They have the potential to live up to that billing. Such has been their rise in recent years, they are now considered one of the leading forces in UK basketball.
Director of basketball Paul James led his side to fifth last term, having previously seen them finish third in 2011-12.
However, on each occasion, they ended up losing at the first stage of the play-offs — a competition for the league’s top eight teams.
But they reached the semi-finals of the BBL Trophy last season and the last four of the BBL Cup the year before.
In short, Wolves have been threatening to land a major honour for some time and this could well be the year they do it.
James has transformed his squad and made a statement of intent by recruiting point guard Zaire Taylor, who won the championship, play-offs and BBL Cup with Leicester last season.
Having also kept player-of-the-year Alex Owumi, great things are expected this time around.
Six months have passed since the last time they played a match but in a little over 48 hours they will be on court against Surrey United in Guildford as the BBL begins.
In another six months, Wolves might just have some silverware to show for their first season in their new home.
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