Sheffield Sharks boss hopes for exciting but more stable season next year

Atiba Lyons
Atiba Lyons

Sheffield Sharks’ head coach Atiba Lyons will add new faces to his side as he bids to mark a decade in charge with silverware.

Despite numerous injury setbacks last season, the team achieved a fourth-place finish in the British Basketball League.

And this season the coach wants to go one further saying: “I want to win silverware - all silverware preferably.”

Lyons previously led Sharks to the BBL play-off championship in 2016. Last season, however, they exited the end-of-season contest at the quarter-final stage.

The 35-year-old confirmed new signings are imminent as they look to improve on that. “We will have a good mix of returning our core but will we see some new faces being announced soon” he said. “I’d also like to see more of our younger talent to develop and come through.”

Although not exclusive, the American influence on the roster is likely to continue in the search for new talent.

“We get players from all over the world. I tend to look for American players because I go home and set up workouts every year” said Lyons. Injuries meant Sharks had to use 18 different players throughout the season - a club record.

“It was a very difficult season because of the rotation of players” Lyons said. “It was a season that taught me a lot but not one of my most enjoyable. It was also a sense of accomplishment because we were still able to finish top 4.”

However, Brooklyn-born Lyons is aware of the challenges that now lie ahead. “The league is becoming stronger. We can’t be complacent, we have to continue to drive the business and draw new fans to basketball and the Sharks” he said.

It’s a rare feat in any sport to remain in charge at the same club for ten years, but even more so when you achieve such a landmark aged just 35.

Lyons is the youngster ever coach in the British Basketball League.

He admits the journey to marking a decade in charge has been far from easy, not least because of the events of last season. “Early on I felt people may have been sceptical because of my age and I was unknown. I had only played 1 and a half season before I agreed to coach,” he said.

“I also didn’t have the benefit of being an assistant and learn, or years of playing experience. I learned on the job and had to try to learn very quickly from my mistakes.”