We're doing a good job, says Raiders boss Love
GAVIN LOVE has called for calm to help Marjon Plymouth Raiders shake off their inconsistent home form this season.
Uncharacteristically, Raiders have gone 4-5 in their last nine contests in all BBL competitions at the Pavilions.
That run hit a new low in a heaviest home defeat of the campaign and 98-81 loss to strugglers Durham Wildcats last Friday.
From 2010-12, in two previous seasons under Love, Raiders have gone a dominant 33-7 at home in all competitions.
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Raiders remain on course to match last season's fourth-placed finish in the league and are only one win back from 14-5 Surrey Heat, who have surprised people this campaign and are third.
On Sunday (5.30pm) Raiders visit 8-12 Cheshire Phoenix, who lead a fierce, five-horse race to clinch one of the two final play-off spots.
Encapsulating a topsy-turvy 2012/13, Manchester Giants, who boast talents like former Great Britain forward Nick George, are 7-14 and second-bottom.
"Everybody's really good in the league this season," said Raiders boss Love.
"Newcastle and Leicester have been the most consistent, which is why they are where they are, but everyone else is very similar. I think we're doing a good job to be fair."
Love, whose team have won four of their last five league contests, added: "We've played some fantastic games in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, we took a day off and messed up against Durham. People have short memories in sport.
"Some people are panicking. All we have to do is get back on the horse and finish this season strongly.
"There are a lot of teams in the league who would like to be where we are right now."
However, Raiders' hot and cold home form continues to confound Love.
At their best at the Pavilions this season, Raiders powered past high-fliers Leicester Riders 86-82 in December before, last month, digging deep to overcome Giants 119-115 in double overtime.
At their worst at home this season, Raiders have panicked at crucial times in tight games or, like last Friday, simply not found any energy whatsoever.
"Our home form has been unbelievable for two years and I can't tell you why it isn't this season," said Love. "It's strange, but it's a building process."
However, Love understands such inconsistency at home has led to some fans concluding that they are struggling in 2012/13.
In contrast, Raiders are a healthier 8-3 on the road in all competitions this campaign.
Love said: "People perhaps don't think we're doing as well as we are, because our home form has been up and down."
"We just have to get back to playing good basketball."
Love added: "We lost one game. I'm over it. We're still in fourth place and doing really well, considering the things that have happened this season beyond our control, in terms of players leaving the club. Our goal remains to finish in the top four this season."
Raiders have used 11 senior professionals in the league this season, three of which have since left the club – Anthony Rowe, Jeremy Bell and Liam Potter.
The trio have been replaced in a core eight-man rotation by Jamal Williams, Rod Brown and Andreas Schreiber, respectively.
Raiders and Love, almost inevitably, have come under fire for making those decisions.
"We've made decisions this season that are in the best interests of Plymouth Raiders," Love said.
"I'm sure if anyone else was in my shoes they would have done the same, no question. We did the right thing for the club."
Love added: "It's always difficult when players leave and come in. Ideally, you'd have your team at the beginning of the season and never change it, but all teams make changes.
"That's the job. That's sport. Look at Plymouth Argyle – they bring in new players.
"I wouldn't do anything different if I had to do this season again."
Phoenix have lost three of their last four games and are coming off last Sunday's 94-82 home defeat to Durham Wildcats.
Phoenix's six-man rotation revolves around four key scorers – guards Gabe Haskins and Chez Marks, wing-man Jerome Gumbs and big-man Alif Bland.
Marks and Gumbs both played for Raiders in 2010/11, Love's first campaign in charge and were terrific.
The following off-season Love sacrificed Marks to acquire point-guard Ben Smith, while Gumbs accepted a more lucrative offer to join a team in Luxembourg.
Marks and Gumbs are leading Phoenix this season, averaging 22.7 and 17.1 points per game, respectively. Haskins and Bland, in support, are adding 15.9 and 15.6 points per game.
Phoenix's bench is the least potent in the league, averaging 14.9 points per game; Raiders' bench is averaging 26.6 points per game.
Love said: "Cheshire are certainly dangerous, especially at their place. They're very offensive minded and can catch anyone out."