Plymouth Marjon coach Matt Hatchell celebrates EBL play-offs place
PLYMOUTH Marjon coach Matt Hatchell confessed he would prefer his side to be the underdogs in the first round of the EBL Division Three play-offs.
Marjon, from Division Three South, will face Division Three North champs Huddersfield next weekend on March 23/24.
The city team qualified for the play-offs when London lost one of their final, two league matches on Tuesday night.
London could have caught Marjon's 12-6 league record if they had won both of their final games.
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But their 66-60 defeat against Worcester II saw Marjon safely through to their post-season contest.
The regular season has been a trial by fire for new head coach Matt Hatchell, who had to face the possibility that a team he believed could have won the division wouldn't even make the play-offs.
Marjon were given the chance to nullify the threat of London's two games in hand over the weekend.
They played London at the University of St Mark and St John, but they lost a narrow contest to a speculative shot on the buzzer by a London player. That left Hatchell and his players having to wait on London's result from their Tuesday night game.
Hatchell said: "Obviously, we are really pleased, although it means a long trip to Huddersfield, which is nearly all the way to Manchester.
"But there's no pressure on us like there is on Huddersfield, who won their league.
"We are the underdogs, having qualified in fourth place, but that's sort of a good thing. It takes some of the pressure from our younger players.
"We haven't got anything to prove. If we win at Huddersfield and get the next game (in the semi-finals) down to Plymouth, then anything can happen.
"If you look at all our results, we have beaten all the teams above us in the league this year.
"When we have lost games, only one has been by 20 points – the rest have been by two or three, so we've always been competitive.
"We have proved time and time again that we are at this level, and sometimes above it. Consistency is the key for us."
Hatchell, who has only been head coach for a year, admitted he had mixed feelings about qualifying for the play-offs.
He said: "Am I pleased about it? Yes and no. It (the season) could have really gone pear-shaped, but when we got into our stride, I felt we could have won the league and I'm sure the players felt that way, too.
"I'm not happy with just competing. I'd much rather be celebrating a win."