Love boldly aims to change Raiders players' mindsets
MARJON Plymouth Raiders boss Gavin Love wants to transform his players' mindset this season.
Love, whose new-look roster reported back for pre-season training at City College Plymouth this week, does not want his stars to coast through transitional periods of games in 2012/13.
Instead, Love will demand personnel play flat-out for shorter and, hopefully, sweeter stints.
Raiders have trimmed their BBL roster from nine professionals last season to seven this – one, to keep players hungry for court-time happy and two, to be sensible financially.
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But Love (right) said: "Yes, we've only got seven players this year, but we will be rotating at a far quicker pace and, hopefully, playing the game at a far higher pace."
Love, whose team tip-off the new BBL season at Leicester Riders on September 22, added: "We've got to get out of the mindset this year where players think they have to try and play for 40 minutes, and save something.
"On top teams in Spain, star players only play for 20-25 minutes.
"I know changing mindsets is a big ask but, hopefully, that's how we will play this year."
Raiders' opening pre-season friendly is against Team USA Select at the Pavilions next Wednesday (September 12, 7.30pm).
Their top players last season like point-guard Jeremy Bell, centre Paul Williams and forward Lehmon Colbert all averaged more than 30 minutes per game.
Bell, especially, logged a team-high and heavy 37 minutes a night.
Raiders were flying last season and went 28-10 in all competitions through the first six months of the campaign before collapsing, mentally and physically drained, in the final three weeks 2-5.
That cost them in the play-offs, where they fell at the first hurdle in the quarter-finals.
Love wants to avoid a repeat scenario this year and will hope his new rotation policy will help manage his players' energy levels over the campaign.
"If you look at the Olympic Games in London this year and top teams like Spain, they played hard-nosed basketball for 40 minutes," said Love, who was court-side at this summer's Olympic basketball tournament.
"That's a cliché, but if you look at BBL basketball, a lot of the time it can be quite lazy. There's not a lot of full-court pressure from defences, because rotations on teams are so limited."
Of course, Love's own performance, and in-game management in particular, will come under greater scrutiny as the number of substitutions he makes during contests increases.
"You improve every year as a coach," said Love, entering his third season in charge of Raiders. "I look back and think, 'Yes, I could've done that a little bit better or spent a bit more time on that'.
"The detail is very important, so I will pay more attention to that – and never assume experienced players just know things! Hopefully I'll perform better this year."
Love added: "You have to be potent at both ends of the floor. We'll have an ability to pressure full-court on defence for the majority of the game.
"We've led the league in scoring in both my years here, so that's never been a problem for us, but obviously we have to dig in defensively. There's no reason why we can't be good defensively.
"We've got two of the better perimeter defenders in the league in Michael Ojo and Drew Lasker, and Jeremy's no slouch either at that end of the floor.
"But we're going to have to play defence in a different way.
"Our big-men can't just stand behind their man. They're going to have get in front of them and work harder."