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Wolves bucking the trend in dismal year
2:30pm Thursday 24th October 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WHISPER it quietly but a sports team from Worcester could actually achieve something of note in the near future.
Worcester Wolves are currently perched on top of the British Basketball League and, if their early-season form is anything to go by, could well end up there come April.
At a time when Warriors are propping up the Aviva Premiership without a win, the football team are struggling in Skrill North and a disappointing cricket season has just ended, Wolves’ success is a welcome change.
I championed their potential to be the city’s sporting success in 2013-14 and I stand by that.
Since moving into the University Arena, Wolves have swept all before them and have so far won all of their five games in the league.
After thrashing Surrey United in their first match, they went on to stun defending champions Leicester Riders in front of 1,700 people at the £15million Hylton Road venue.
They have also edged out London Lions and Cheshire Phoenix and, on Sunday, annihilated Birmingham Knights 100-59.
In the BBL Cup, one of four pieces of silverware up for grabs this term, they eased past Manchester Giants 88-66 to reach the quarter-finals.
Although it is still early days in the campaign, Wolves’ start will have sent shockwaves through the league.
While Worcester being among the upper echelons of the league is nothing new — they finished fifth last year and third the year before — their current elevation is uncharted territory.
Remarkably, director of basketball Paul James doesn’t even think they have played to their best yet, which can only be good news for their supporters.
Tomorrow, they face their toughest test since defeating Leicester, when they make the long journey to take on perennial trophy-winning merchants Newcastle Eagles.
This is a team that have won the championship four times in the last six seasons, and they finished second on both the occasions they failed to land top spot.
If Wolves beat them in their own back yard, that really would underline their potential to be among the honours this season.
In all of this, James deserves a great deal of praise.
He has consistently assembled a team capable of being one of the better outfits while not quite being good enough to win a trophy.
This time it looks as though he might have landed on the formula to bridge that gap.
He has recruited well in Zaire Taylor and Will Creekmore and last week’s acquisition of Plymouth outcast Andreas Schreiber has already paid dividends.
Only time will tell if Wolves are the real deal but they’re definitely heading in the right direction at the moment.
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