— Timothy Long contributed with this report
Until last week the University of Lincoln’s basketball team, the Lincoln Lakers, had more in common with the Los Angeles Lakers than just their name– both teams were unbeaten this season.
After LA’s loss to the Denver Nuggets last Thursday, Lincoln’s Lakers remain, to my knowledge, the only unbeaten Lakers in basketball.
Following yesterday’s 63-41 victory over the University of Nottingham, the Lakers now have a record of 3-0. Previous victories came at home to Newman College and away to Staffordshire Steelers.
At training this week team captain Matty Barwell spoke about what it’s like to be a Laker this season. Barwell said: “This year is the most competitive team we’ve had in a long time. The understanding and basketball intelligence in the team is a lot better. Hopefully we should have a good chance of promotion.”
Matty, a third year primary education student from Leicestershire, believes the team’s main strengths are depth and togetherness: “We have a good balance with a couple of quality players in every position. Also, we really get along which is a big help.
“We all hang out together off the court and that helps on the court, because you want to work harder for people you’re friends with.”
As captain, Matty considers work-rate to be his main strength: “I’ll work hard for the team and keep running and making that extra effort even when we’re losing, that’s the main thing. I’m captain, so if confidence drops I’ll try and keep everyone up, and try not to be too critical.”
The team has several new players this season. However Matty is not expecting to see their best straight away.
“A lot of players have come straight from college and it’s a big step up. The step between college and university basketball is huge.
“Basketball is taken very seriously at university. We’re a serious team who train several times a week and work really hard. At college I think it’s a bit more recreational.
“A lot of people watching at games adds pressure. If you’re playing as a fresher with all these people watching you it can be quite nerve-racking.
“Communicating on the court is something that needs to improve, but that will come with confidence and experience once we all get to know each other.
“New players might not want to shout when maybe they should. Everyone’s opinion is equal and valued. If we improve on that we’ll be a lot better, especially defensively.”
There is also a new coach this season in the form of Christopher Plumley. Such a change invariably comes with a change in the playbook, and Matty stresses that learning these new plays is something else the team must work hard at.
The Lakers will be a tough test for any university team once the new players and tactics are fully integrated. It may not be sunny California, but the future looks bright for drizzly Lincoln’s own brand of Lakers basketball.Tweet