Plymouth Raiders coach Gavin Love: My goal next season is to win BBL Championship
GAVIN LOVE ambitiously wants Marjon Plymouth Raiders to win the BBL Championship next season.
The Raiders boss, currently reaching the end of his third year in charge, has only previously publicly targeted top-four finishes in British basketball's elite league.
Love said: "My goal next season, knowing what I now know, is to be number one and win the league. I haven't said that before, but that's our goal looking forward. Why not?"
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Under Love, Raiders have finished fifth in 2011, fourth in 2012 and are fourth again this season with a 16-8 record.
Leicester Riders, whose record is an outstanding 20-2, are favourites to be crowned 2013 league champions when the BBL regular season climaxes next month on April 7.
"I think if we had done a few things differently this season and hadn't had bad luck, we could've been up there," said Love.
"We have to make sure certain things don't happen next season and put things into place to make sure we challenge."
Raiders' 2012/13 campaign has, so far, been defined by the departure of key players Jeremy Bell, who is currently a free agent, in January and home grown club captain Anthony Rowe, who joined Riders in November.
Both had become unhappy.
Rowe left after refusing to accept a pay cut, while American Bell was AWOL and returned to the USA over Christmas, citing personal problems.
However, Love consequently now believes he and Raiders will be able to sustain a legitimate league title challenge in 2013/14.
"You learn so much every year and it takes time to learn to win titles," said Love, who led Raiders to the finals of both the BBL Cup and BBL Trophy last season, where they lost to arch rivals Newcastle Eagles.
"It would have been amazing to win something last season, but I've learnt more this year than I did last year and I learnt more last year than I did in my first year coaching.
"The longer you do something, the hungrier you become and the more mistakes you make, the more you learn from them."
Love, alluding to the belief that Raiders' locker room has been an unhappy one this season, added: "This season has taught me that (players') character is very important."
Of Bell's and Rowe's exits, Love said: "We as a club and myself as a coach couldn't control those situations. When you lose players then, yes it's frustrating and you don't want to see it, but it happens and you move on.
"It's professional sport, whether it's basketball or football. Players come and players go. All you have to do is coach your team, whoever's in front of you.
"I'm a better coach now than I was last year and hopefully next year I'll be even better."
Riders and Eagles have dominated this season's BBL Championship. No one else has really got close to them.
Riders won the BBL Cup in January and their first title under boss Rob Paternostro, 40, who is now in his fifth season in charge.
Eagles, under player-boss Fab Flournoy, have ruled the BBL since Raiders first joined it in 2004/05.
Flournoy, 39, was in his third season in charge in the North East when Eagles first won something in 2005.
Love's current Raiders contract, which he agreed in January 2012, runs out next summer. He turns 35 in June.
BBL Championship: Mersey 76 Durham 87, Newcastle 94 Surrey 100