Basketball: Atiba’s search for Sharks happy medium

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons
Sharks coach Atiba Lyons

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons is hoping to find some middle ground for his team’s boom or bust offence.

Lyons and the Sharks have a weekend off before their next match against Durham Wildcats on Friday October 25 at the English Institute of Sport in Attercliffe.

And the American play-caller wants to ensure his players return to action in more consistent form.

Sharks scored only 40 points in their defeat at last season’s treble-winning Leicester Riders a fortnight ago, but responded with 102 in a victory at Birmingham Knights on Saturday evening.

Lyons said: “We need to find a happy medium offensively.

“We went from not scoring very many at Leicester to cracking 100 against the Knights.

“Offensively we were a lot better, but we have to find a way to do that every match.”

Sharks were expected to beat Birmingham in the BBL new boys’ first home game of the season.

They did pick up the two points, but it was battle until the last couple of minutes when the Sharks pulled away with ice cool shooting from the free throw line.

Lyons said: “The Knights are a much better team at home than when I saw them away and on film.

“They had a lot of guys making shots and stepping up, rather than just one, and they pushed us hard.

“It was a good one to come away from with a win.”

Sharks free throw shooting, which saw Zach Gachette, Jeremie Simmons, Patrick Horstmann and Olu Babalola all connect successfully from the line, pleased Lyons.

He said good free throw shooting is a vital ingredient for a winning team.

“We’ve always had guards who can make their free throws, but now we have big men who can knock them down too,” he said.

“That’s important for later in the game when the ball is going in the post.

“From a coach’s point of view it’s something I look at when I’m scouting players.

“It’s one part of the game that is difficult to help players out with once they’re here.

“A lot of the time (if players miss) it’s mental.

“Sometimes it’s both mental and mechanical and you’ll have guys who are good three-point shooters, but can’t make a free throw.”

One man who is proven from the free throw line is in-coming point guard BJ Holmes.

The Texan scored the vital points from the line in last season’s BBL Trophy triumph in Glasgow, and will return to Sheffield this morning.

He’ll be warmly welcomed back by Lyons who will see Nick Lewis miss next Friday’s match with a one game suspension after being ejected from the Birmingham encounter.

With Holmes’ return, the Sharks will pose a formidable threat from their backcourt.

The 25-year-old struck up a good understanding with Lewis last season and should gel well with fellow American Simmons.

Young English guard Gachette is also a much-improved player this season and gives Lyons another option with his athleticism.