Plymouth Raiders coach Gavin Love demands team's role players step up and support stars more
GAVIN LOVE has demanded Marjon Plymouth Raiders' role players step up and support the team's stars more.
Raiders find themselves in the thick of a four-horse race for third spot in this season's BBL Championship.
Raiders' highest ever finish among British basketball's elite is third in 2008.
Raiders are currently fifth in the standings ahead of fourth-placed Surrey Heat's visit to the Pavilions on Saturday (7.30pm).
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Joint-leaders and defending BBL champions Newcastle Eagles also visit on Sunday in a big and busy weekend (4pm).
There are only seven weeks of the regular season remaining before the play-offs.
"This weekend we've got to put it all together," said Raiders coach Love (pictured above). "It's two big games.
"We've made it difficult for ourselves now (to finish third).
"It comes down to the last 12 games of the regular season, but it's exciting. It's what you play for."
Guard Michael Ojo leads Raiders in scoring this season and has carried the team's offence in their last two outings, averaging 35 points per game.
In Sunday's 94-84 loss at third-placed Glasgow Rocks, back-up big-man Andreas Schreiber was Raiders' second top scorer with 12 points off the bench.
"We relied too heavily on Michael for scoring," said Love of last weekend.
"Other people didn't have big games. We need guys to step up and help carry the load."
Niggling injuries have ravaged Raiders' roster in recent weeks, but Love is reluctant to blame dips in form on such problems.
"It comes down to having energy and guys having big performances," said Love.
"I wouldn't like to blame it on injuries. Obviously injuries affect things to an extent, but we haven't had big games from some guys for a few weeks now.
"That's been a problem we've faced all season – being consistent."
Inconsistency has, uncharacteristically, plagued Raiders' home form more than their record on the road this season.
"We've had our chances to win games this season and we've dropped games we shouldn't have," said Love. "But then we've won games we shouldn't have, so it balances out.
"We've just got to be consistent, win as many games as we can, finish as high up the league as we can and then look forward to the play-offs."
Raiders finished fifth in the BBL with a 58 per cent winning record in Love's first campaign in charge, 2010/11.
Last season, Raiders improved to fourth in the league and won 70 per cent of their games.
"I'd be disappointed if we didn't achieve the same position we did last year," said Love. "That's just me, as a coach trying to improve.
"I guess fourth plays fifth in the (seeded) first round of the play-offs anyway, but it's a point of pride.
"I want us to be a top four team and we're gunning for third place. We're going to have to improve to achieve that, but we certainly can.
"If we don't finish third or fourth, we're going to have to say we we're not as good as last year, and I don't want to say that.
"We've had some of our best practices for a while this week and we go forward. We've got to shake things up."
Last weekend Rocks led Raiders by as many as 15 points, 62-47 early in the third quarter before Raiders cut the gap to as few as five, 81-76 early in the fourth.
However, that was as good as it got for Love's team.
He said: "We did a decent job. When we finally got on a run in the fourth we then had a three-minute period when we simply couldn't score.
"We had good looks at the basket, but the ball didn't go down for us. It rimmed out.
"If they had gone in then we could've really got going and maybe won it."
Love added: "Our defensive energy wasn't good for the first three quarters.
"It wasn't a disaster – we lost to a good team on an away court – but it starts at the defensive end. We need to be more of a unit.
"That's what we've been looking at in practice this week."