WORCESTER Wolves have set a target of qualifying for the British Basketball League play-offs as the new season approaches.
Wolves are poisedt to move into their new 1,500-seat home — the Worcester Arena — in the 2012-13 season and to ensure they take a challenging team to the stadium, director of basketball Paul James has been working tirelessly to secure new signatures and re-sign key players.
In order to avoid under-achieving, which James believes his side did last season, point guard Rod Middleton and shooting guard Danny Gilbert have been released, while James has secured the signing of former Worthing Thunder point guard Sherrad Prezzie-Blue.
James said of the five-foot 11-inch American: “With our inexperienced side, Sherrad will help the young guys having gained BBL experience with Worthing over the past two seasons.”
Joining Prezzie-Blue are fellow Americans Tommy Freeman and Richie Gordon, who both graduated last season from the University of Ohio and Western Carolina University respectively.
Freeman, a six-foot five-inch shooting guard, averaged 11 points per game in his last season with the Bobcats and is a proven three-point shooter. He will compliment the returning David Watts, who has re-signed after proving to be one of the deadliest three-point players in the league.
Gordon replaces Justin Dobbins at centre and averaged ten points and six rebounds per game last season at Western Carolina and is known to be a versatile player who can play under the basket but also shoot from mid-range.
Carlos Fernandez, aged 23, has been signed from the prestigious ULEB Gold side Leon in the Spanish League.
“The ULEB divisions are very competitive and we know Carlos will make a great impact in the BBL,” said James. “We hope his experience of playing against some of the best European players will help us greatly.”
James is still searching for a power forward and has scouted players from Britain and Lithuania, but insists there is no rush. “There is only one spot left to fill and it needs to be a guy who will come in and have a positive affect, so there will be no rash decisions,” he said.
Wolves hope to play two friendlies before the season tips off against Guildford Heat on October 1 in the BBL Trophy. Their BBL campaign begins at Glasgow Rocks on October 21 and the goal for James is simple.
“We want to make the play-offs,” he said. “In my first season we won 18 games and just missed out and again last year with 17. I think 20 wins will secure a top eight finish.”
Only time will tell as the players return this week to start intense preparations. Strength and conditioning, team and individual practice are included in their six-hour, five-days-a-week pre-season training.