The Sheffield Sharks begin their 2015/16 BBL campaign tonight at the English Institute of Sport and face stiff competition in the form of champions Newcastle Eagles.
Atiba Lyons will be hoping that his new-look Sharks can get off the mark in style in front of what should be a big crowd against the side that ended the home side’s hopes of a fifth BBL title last season at the semi-final stages.
It has been a busy summer off the court for the Sharks in terms of comings and goings. The Sharks have introduced a number of new faces to their ranks such as Jerrold Brooks, Kyle Odister and Reggis Onwukamuche.
The new recruits will play alongside the likes of Mike Tuck, Mike Cook, Patrick Horstmann, Colin Sing, George Brownell, Eddy Brownell and Marko Backovic who all return for another season with the Sheffield side. The experience of Tuck, Cook, and Horstmann will no doubt be beneficial for a side whose achilles heel last year was inconsistency.
It will be interesting to see how the new signings will integrate into the team over the course of the gruelling campaign.
The new signings and returning faces bring an element of not just excitement for the fans, but on the court it gives the Sharks a blend of both youth and experience to a side who at times last season found it difficult in the BBL.
After the changes made to the roster in the off-season, this year could be considered a year of rebuilding for the side that has won the BBL Championship four times.
The start of last season did not go to plan for Lyon’s side, thankfully for the side the performances and results improved as did league position. Although they were unable to match their second-place finish from the previous year, they did manage to make it to the semi-final stage.
Tonight’s opponents were just too strong for the Sharks over the two legged affair.
The Newcastle Eagles went on to beat the London Lions at the O2 Arena in front of almost 15,000 fans in a game that was also broadcast live on the BBC.
With a strong pre-season under their belt, the Sharks head into the all-important opening game of the season in good spirits.
Sharks captain Mike Hook said: “Preparation for the season has been going great. You can really see that all our guys have been putting in work in the off-season to stay conditioned and work on their game.”
The Sharks will have early home advantage with the first four games all being played at the EIS before a difficult trip to Glasgow next month.
The fans stuck with the side last season and are almost bursting with excitement for the season to get under way.
If the Sharks can gel early on in the season and maintain the level of performance that they showed towards that back end of the previous campaign, 15/16 could be a season to remember and could give their fans something to shout.
Consistency will be key is the Sharks are to make a splash this time around.