Riders Consider Season Options

Leicester Riders are looking at all options, after the planned start of the BBL season later this week was put on hold.

Riders along with other BBL clubs met late last week online, to consider the Prime Minister’s announcement that the return of spectators to sporting events was on hold indefinitely, following an increase in Covid-19 cases.

The BBL had planned to announce fixtures for the new season last week, but that announcement has again been delayed.

Riders Chairman Kevin Routledge said the club were particularly frustrated,

“We had been in continuous discussions with DCMS, and were on track to be the first indoor sports pilot in the country last Friday in a pre-season friendly.”

“The Morningside Arena has done a huge amount of work to become Covid Secure, with a major investment in software and physical changes to the arena.”

“We have been advised that the changes have made means the venue is one of the best prepared in the county.”

“So to get this news is devastating, particularly to the people involved in all these works.”

“It is going to have a massive impact on all BBL clubs, because there is a huge dependency for all clubs on gate receipts and local sponsors.”

“We have been advised the Government will consider requests for support, but the challenge will be for Clubs to survive, while negotiations go on.”

“Because we are one of a few Clubs that have control of our own Arena, we also have amongst the highest overheads in the British game.”

“Obviously we want to play games only when it is safe to do so, but all venues are different, and the risks will be very different.”

“We will be working very hard with the BBL to consider all options and hope to let our supporters and sponsors know very soon the outcome.”

“We don’t rule out playing behind closed doors for a period, but that is not a sustainable way of operating, and it is unclear whether all clubs could even start on that basis.”

“Ultimately we are in the hands of Government.”

The BBL’s Chief Operating Officer Andy Web said,

“Following the Government announcement on 22nd September that fans will not be allowed back to sporting events for the foreseeable future, the British Basketball League is currently assessing the impact this will have on professional basketball in the UK.”

“The UK is a great sporting nation and the positive impact that sport has on communities and on physical and mental health can be seen at all levels from grassroots through to elite levels.”

“With all the BBL clubs firmly rooted in their communities, it is no exaggeration to say that the impact of this decision will be deeply felt by all 11 BBL clubs and the many stakeholders the Clubs and their charitable Foundations work with.”

“We recognise that the Government are taking these measures in the interests of the nation’s health and we fully support them in that.”

“However, to remove the possibility of such a vital source of income only a week before we were due to start our season means the BBL has no option but to call on the Government for support at this crucial time.”

“The viability of our league, the only professional men’s basketball league in the UK, is predicated on ticket and sponsorship income, as thousands of fans and local businesses show their support each week.”

“Without their support, there is a risk of the loss of clubs who work in the heart of their communities, as well as the current and future generations of talented sportspeople, many from our most deprived communities.”

“In the meantime, the BBL is reassessing its options with regards to the new season and will be making further announcements shortly.”

Season Recap: Kyron Cartwright
Games played: 25
Points Per Game: 10.16
Rebounds Per Game: 4.56
Assists Per Game: 8.72

Kyron Cartwright joined the Riders following playing his rookie professional season in Hungary with Alba Fehervar  competing both domestically in the Hungarian first division and the FIBA Europe Cup.

Cartwright is a true Point Guard who’s ability to lead the team and distribute the ball was a key part of the Riders offence this season. Kyron’s elite court vision saw him finish second in the BBL Championship in assists with 8.80 per game, first across all competitions in assists with 8.72 per game and included season highs of 30 points and 19 assists.

Coach Paternostro was pleased with Kyron’s performance this past season and noted he had a unique ability to impact games without scoring. “Kyron speed and quickness was something the defence had to prepare for, his ability to see the floor was incredible, his passing was tremendous, he could dominate the game without even taking a shot. We loved what Kyron brought to our team this season”.

Cartwright was also pleased with the season however, admits it was frustrating the season has been postponed as the team was finding their form. “I thought personally and as a team we had a pretty good season, being a second year professional now I definitely felt more comfortable out there on the floor leading the team. As a team I feel like we were starting to play some of our best basketball right when we needed to so it’s a real shame that all our remaining fixtures have been postponed as who knows what we could’ve gone on to do.”

Key Performances

October 26th 2019 v Manchester Giants – BBL Cup

Stat line: 14 points (5/10 FG), 3 rebounds, 12 assists

The Leicester Riders and Manchester Giants did battle in the group stages of the BBL Cup as Kyron Cartwright posted his first double double in a Riders Jersey. Kyron got the Riders off the mark with a tough layup a minute into the contest followed by a trademark midrange jumper off the dribble as the Riders jumped out to an early 6 point led at the end of the first quarter. The Riders continued to assert themselves in the second quarter giving them a 20-44 half time lead with Cartwright running the show contributing 7 points and 7 assists. It was more of the same from the Riders and Cartwright in the second half as they continued to cause the Giants problems, Cartwright handed out another 5 assists and scored 7 points with a variety of crafty finishes around the basket as the Riders took the 57-96 victory to moved to 3-0 on the season.

December 6th 2019 v Plymouth Raiders – BBL Championship

Stat line: 11 points (3/7 FG), 8 rebounds, 19 assists

The Leicester Riders took on the Plymouth Raiders at the Morningside Arena as they opened up their 2019/20 BBL Championship campaign. It was yet another jaw dropping passing display from Kyron Cartwright who handed out a season high 19 assists. Cartwright set the tone early pushing the pace with two sweet dimes on the break before finding Andy Thomson for three to push the Riders out to an early 2 point lead and the end of the first quarter. The Riders came out hot in the second quarter scoring 4 threes in the period with Cartwright running the show dishing out a further five dimes including two flashy no look passes to Darien Nelson-Henry for easy finishes inside. The Raiders fought back in the third quarter winning the period 24-18 to close the gap to just 6 heading into the final period. Cartwright ignited the Riders run at the start of the fourth scoring a jump hook over Raiders guard Josh Wilcher before once again connecting with Nelson-Henry inside for two. Kyron saw the Riders over the line in the closing minutes finding Josh Ward-Hibbert on the break for two followed by Jesse Chuku for a jumper as he totalled 19 assists on the game and the Riders took a 96-79 win.

January 17th v Worcester Wolves – BBL Championship

Stat line: 30 points (12/21 FG) , 6 rebounds, 4 assists

Kyron Cartwright posted a career high 30 points as the Leicester Riders defeated the Worcester Wolves avenging their BBL Cup Semi Final loss to the Wolves two weeks earlier. Kyron put on his most impressive scoring display of the season causing the Wolves problems all evening. Cartwright got going early pushing the pace and finding lanes to the basket with ease as the Riders jumped out to an early 31-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Worcester closed the gap in the second quarter winning it by 6 despite still being unable to control Cartwright who found his way into the lane at will. The second half was far closer with the Wolves pulling it back to just an 8 point game heading into the final quarter however it was Cartwright that sealed the deal for the Riders scoring 8 points including three clutch free throws in the final minute to secure a 4 point victory for the Riders.

Thank you for your continued support

Leicester Riders Chairman Kevin Routledge has thanked all Riders fans, after an outpouring of support following the postponement of the BBL 2019/20 season.

The BBL announced last Tuesday a suspension of the current season indefinitely, because of the national measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

No date has been set for a possible resumption to the season, with the BBL awaiting updated Government advice.

“These are challenging times for the Riders, and the BBL, in common with other professional leagues and clubs.”

“Indeed the challenges are being faced across a lot of sectors of industry in these unprecedented times, and so we have to be understanding, and keep a perspective.”

“In addition, we are rightly proud of the work in the community of our Foundation, but now their activities will be significantly curtailed, particularly due to the schools closure.”

“We are also extremely proud that we were the first club in the BBL to build their own venue, the Morningside Arena, and that too had to be closed to the public as of last Friday evening, with the most recent announcement by the Prime Minister.”

“The public generally may not be aware, but the Morningside Arena is owned by our charity, the Leicester Riders Foundation, and inevitably, as the largest indoor venue in the city, it has significant overheads.”

“If any of our supporters, or the public, wished to provide further support, donations to our Foundation will greatly assist us continuing with a reduced service.”

“The total loss of revenues to those three organisations, as a result of the suspension and closures, could reach £1 million, depending upon how long the closures continue.”

“This means it will take some time for us to recover.”

“We are exploring every opportunity to continue to make some use of the arena, in line with Government advice and guidelines, during these challenging times.”

“But we have been overwhelmed with messages of support from our players, fans, sponsors, funders and suppliers.”

“We are particularly thankful that we have not yet had a single request for a ticket refund for the advanced sales for the remaining Riders home games, which is hugely helpful to sustaining our businesses through these difficult times, while we find out if the season can resume.”

“In addition, all our sponsors have remained very supportive and are offering their help and expertise.”

“Also, all the players and staff of the Riders, and the staff of our Foundation and Arena, have stepped up and voluntarily agreed short term reductions in wages to help get us through these unprecedented conditions.”

“And we have been delighted with the support from our main suppliers, who have shown great flexibility in terms of payment, notwithstanding some having their own difficulties.”

“We have also had support and advice from the Council, which has been very helpful, particularly recognising that the demands on their leadership and staff are immense in these circumstances.”

“We particularly welcome the announcement by the Chancellor on Friday night, to support keeping people in work. That will be boost for all businesses like ours.”

“We are also aware that the BBL is having conversations with national government to see what support might be forthcoming because of the damage to our sport.”

“The Riders continue preparations so that we can restart to finish the current season, although understandably some of our overseas players like Kyron Cartwright, Corey Johnson and Namon Wright returned to the US, in light of pending or threatened travel bans by American authorities.”

“We will address the strength of our playing squad, once clarity is provided on what happens next.”

“The Riders will also accelerate our preparations for next season, and in that regard we will launch our season tickets offer for the 2020/21 season later this week.”

“Any of our fans who can afford to buy theirs soon would make a huge difference to the short and medium term sustainability of the Leicester Riders.”

“I understand that many of our fans and their families are facing similar financial uncertainty, but even a small contribution could go a long way.”

“Meanwhile everyone at the Club, the Foundation and at the Arena remains resolute, and determined to stay safe, comply with Government guidelines, and get back, in due course, to normal business.”

Preview: Riders v Giants

Following defeat on the road in Bristol last weekend the Riders will be looking to bounce back this Friday as they take on the Manchester Giants at the Morningside Arena, here’s all you need to know about the two teams.

About the Giants

Manchester Giants are looking to build for the future after a new ownership group pulled together by former player Jamie Edwards took charge a month ago.

It has been lean pickings since the Giants return to the BBL in 2012, and the new group will look to turn that around, but, with the deadline passed for player signings this season, much of the change is likely to occur in the off-season.

Current Head Coach Danny Byrne is in his third season with the club.

Mancunians Callum Jones and his brother James Jones provide experience in the backcourt, aided by Latvian sharpshooter Ingus Bankevics, Spanish forward Eduard Arques and local guard Jack Hudson. Benson Arogbo and Zak Powell provide support off the bench

Americans Jonathan Mulmore and Del’vin Dickerson have been dispensed with, replaced by Londoner Allie Fullah and Brit David Ulph.

Form Guide

Manchester has yet to win in the BBL Championship, but is showing much improved form in recent weeks. They took Plymouth Raiders to overtime in a home defeat, racked up 80 points away at Sheffield Sharks in a 92-80 loss, and then took Cheshire close last Sunday, before Phoenix prevailed at home, 99-88.

After winning 6 in a row, Riders are now on a 2 game losing streak, after going down away to London Lions and Bristol Flyers.

The teams met twice in the Group stages of the BBL Cup, Riders winning both, 96-57 in Manchester, and 102-70 at home.

Players to Watch

Captain Callum Jones pulls the strings for the Giants from the point guard position, and he had a typical display against Cheshire last time out, scoring 16 points at a highly efficient 80% shooting, as well as dishing out 2 assists in 34 minutes of play.

For Leicester, the ability to get Darien Nelson-Henry engaged in the offence is often key to their performances. He is averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds per game, and shoots over 60% from the floor.

Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to purchase yours!

Three Things to look out for this weekend v Giants

The Leicester Riders take on the Manchester Giants this Friday at the Morningside Arena as they look to bounce back from last Weekend’s defeat in Bristol. Here’s three things to look out for ahead of Friday’s game.

Riders aim to move 3-0 on the season against the Giants

In their two meetings so far this season the Riders have had great success against the Manchester Giants overcoming the Giants on both occasions. The Riders have stamped their authority on the defensive end against the Giants in both their previous meetings holding the Giants to 57 points in the first meeting and just 70 points in the second meeting. Although the Giants are yet to win a game in the BBL Championship they have pushed the Raiders, Sharks and Phoenix close in their last 3 games. The Riders will once again need to be locked in on the defensive end of the floor if they are to defeat the Giants on Friday as the Giants have averaged a much improved 86 points per game across those three games.

Improved execution down the stretch 

In their defeat to Bristol last weekend the Riders struggled to get their offence going down the stretch, Coach Paternostro mentioned that he was happy with the shots they were getting however they could not get them to drop. Coach Rob mentioned that it is important he sees a reaction from his team this weekend who in previous weeks showed great execution on their way to a 6 game winning streak.

Riders look to get back to winning ways

The Riders were the most impressive team in the league over the month of February winning all four of their games in impressive fashion however, in their last two games the Riders have stumbled falling to the Lions and Flyers. Typically, Coach Rob has his men playing their best basketball right when it matters at the end of the season, and Friday’s game v Manchester provides the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways. The Riders face a busy April with 6 games as the BBL Championship comes to a close with everything to still play for the Riders.

Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to purchase yours!

Rob’s Reflections on a tough visit to Bristol and an opportunity to bounce back this Weekend

Leicester Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro was left frustrated after Riders let another game get away, as Bristol Flyers came from behind to beat Riders for the second time this season 73-69 on Friday night.

Riders had a first half lead of 13 points, and were still up 9 points at halftime, and were 6 points to the good entering the final quarter, but failed to execute down the stretch.

Josh Ward-Hibbert led the way for Riders with 13 points and 7 rebounds and Darien Nelson Henry added 12 points and 7 rebounds.

“We let another game get away from us and it really should not have happened.”

“We controlled most of the game, but struggled to execute when it mattered.”

“This has happened a couple of times too often this season, and we must address it as a team.”

“It was not a matter of their defence, because we got the openings we wanted, and very few of our misses were poor shots which is a positive on the offensive end.”

“We still have a lot of work to do, to get this team to its potential and I will be looking for a reaction this week.”

“Fortunately everyone is dropping games at the minute as the league is so competitive, so we have the chance to recover.”

“The guys now have the perfect opportunity to bounce back this Friday.”

Riders now look to get back to winning ways in the BBL Championship when they take on Manchester Giants this Friday night in an 8pm Tip at the Morningside Arena. Riders have already beaten the Giants twice in the BBL Cup, 96-57 in Manchester, and 102-70 at home. CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets!

Three things we learnt last Weekend

Last weekend the Leicester Riders defeated the Sheffield Sharks at the Morningside Arena on Saturday Night before falling to the London Lions on the Road the next day, here’s three things we learnt across the two games.

Depth makes the difference

The Leicester Riders continued their impressive form on Saturday Evening as they took down the Sheffield Sharks 87-80 at the Morningside Arena. It was the usual controlled performance on both ends of the floor from the Riders who won each of the first three quarters giving them a 12 point lead heading in to the final period. It was the Riders strength in numbers that got them over the line, with 6 players contributing 9 or more points it the Riders versatility offensively was too much for the Sharks to handle. Kyron Cartwright and Andy Thomson led the way for the Riders contributing double doubles of 10 points and 11 assists and 12 points and 13 rebounds respectively.

Darien Nelson-Henry continues to produce

6’11 American Centre Darien Nelson-Henry has been in fine form for the Riders over recent weeks arguably playing his best basketball since joining the Riders in October. Nelson-Henry is averaging 15.4 points per game on an outstanding 68.2 percent shooting from the floor over his past 4 games which has contributed to the Riders win streak. Darien has been a major presence inside for the Riders using his back to basket playing style to outmuscle defenders on the defensive end but also clogging up the paint on defence making it tough for opponents to score around the basket.

Win Streak snapped at 6 by Lions

Prior to playing the London Lions on Sunday afternoon the Riders were firing on all cylinders on a 6 game win streak in the BBL Championship and playing their best basketball of the season. The defending BBL Champions got off to a quick start and never looked back as their hot shooting kept the Riders at arm length for a majority of the contest. The Riders now have the opportunity to bounce back on Friday Evening against the Bristol Flyers before they return to the Morningside Arena to take on the Manchester Giants on March 13th.

Tickets for the Riders v Giants clash are on sale now, CLICK HERE to purchase yours.