Sheffielder Will Hall says he wants to get more of his team-mates involved under the basket as Leeds Force head coach Matt Newby plots a course to the top eight.
It is a sign of the growing sense of belonging at the BBL rookies that they go into tonight’s Yorkshire series decider with Sheffield Sharks on a neutral floor in Huddersfield, confident of causing an upset and winning the three-game battle for bragging rights.
If they are to secure a second shock win over their much-vaunted rivals, then they will need 23-year-old former Great Britain Under-20s forward Hall to be at his best again.
Hall led the team in last Friday’s defeat to Cheshire Phoenix with 23 points and 15 rebounds.
He is averaging 15 points a game, in what is his first taste of the elite level. But Hall says: “I’m happy to score but I’m eager to get everyone involved as well.
“I grew up playing basketball in Sheffield, it’s a good club system down there where it was all very team orientated, so that’s what I’ve grown up playing.”
Hall could have been playing for the Sharks but his route to the BBL has been a circuitous one, taking in a year on a scholarship at a prep school in Western Massachussets, a spell with Reading Rockets and a year playing in the third division while he concentrated on his studies.
Having grown up in the Steel City and learnt the game with the junior programme of what has for a long-time been Yorkshire’s only top-flight club, the date with Sheffield is one he relishes.
“The games we’ve had with Sheffield have been great fun,” said Hall, of a series that was levelled when Leeds won at the English Institute of Sport last month and will be decided at the University of Huddersfield tonight (7.30).
“It’s a big one for both of us and we’ll each be going out to win it. It will be great if we could do it, especially in our first year.”
Whether they win or lose tonight, head coach Newby is not giving up on a top-eight finish and the end-of-season play-offs.
Force are 12th in the 13-team league, three wins adrift of eighth place with 14 fixtures remaining.
Getting into the play-offs in their first season in the league would exceed all expectations, but Newby believes it is not beyond his improving team.
He said: “The league has recognised our progress. We have had a lot of compliments.
“We’ve got a lot of good young guys with a strong attitude that always shows up, irrespective of who we are facing. But ultimately we have got to focus on the teams placed between fifth and 13th.”