The new look Nottingham Hoods entered the 21/22 season with a new roster, new aspirations, and a new ethos.
With an almost entirely new roster including the likes of last year’s league leading scorer Morakinyo Williams and last year’s assist leader Kyle Jimenez, dynamic guard Johde Campbell, Nottingham pro Joshua Guddemi, plus the return of Victor Olarerin and hometown favourite Luke Mitchell the team sports a very different look. Fans have also enjoyed seeing Hoods two Americans; speedster Logan Bailey and sharpshooting Andrew Vickers, while young but exciting talents Moyo Adekeye, Diogo Soares and Jacob Cirtautas round out a roster with a distinctly international feel.
The Team started the season with a three-game run in the L Lynch Trophy, taking convincing wins against Loughborough Riders, Charnwood College and Leicester Warriors. The Hoods continued their run into the League, posting victories against Loughborough and Essex, before a clash against last year’s runners up Thames Valley Cavaliers. The Hoods were down by 18 points at the break to the talented London Club, facing real adversity for the first time. They responded with resilience and resourcefulness, locking in on defence to put up a 33-16 third quarter to bring the game back into contention, Kyle Jimenez posting all of his fourteen points during the period. With 5 players scoring in double figures Hoods would go on to win by 11, proving their heart and ability to contend at the top of the table.
The Hoods next challenge was an away trip to Reading Rockets, a team that has similarly re tooled this season and looks to be in the mix of the top competing teams. This was a much more back and forth affair with both teams trading throughout the game, neither team able to hit hard enough to put the other away. A frenetic final 5 minutes saw the Hoods hold on to seal the game, four consecutive free throws from Luke Mitchell sealing the deal for the visitors.
The Hoods then faced local rivals Derby in the L Lynch Trophy. Eventual Trophy winners Derby posted an excellent first half, hitting 8/11 from 3 point range and leaving Hoods stunned. While The Hoods fought back in the 2nd half, they could not overcome the deficit and Derby would hand Hoods their first defeat of the season. This would be followed by a tough away trip to Team Newcastle University, a team with a lot of fire power that has made a habit of 4th quarter come back wins. Up by 7 going into the 4th quarter, Hoods became Newcastle’s latest victim. Despite 22 from Williams and 19 from Vickers, Newcastle would drop 39 points in the 4th quarter as Hoods defence collapsed, allowing them to hand Hoods their first defeat in the league.
The following weekend saw a trip to Barking Abbey London Lions, a young but talented side that has performed very well this season. With Mo Williams and Logan Bailey not available the Hoods never seemed to find their rhythm, despite a promising start. Lions continued to chip away, taking a 1 point lead going into the fourth before an excellent 4th quarter that saw them hand Hoods their second defeat in the league.
Needing to rebound after a tough losing streak Hoods would face a serious challenge as they met the Derby Trailblazers side that had handed them their first and largest loss. Derby came out with the same energy and intensity, taking an early lead and putting Hoods backs against the wall. Hoods came out defiant, showing relentless energy and executing as a team. A 23 point, 13 rebound game from Mo Williams alongside a 16 point, 10 rebound, 4 assist, 3 steal effort from Johde Campbell helped Hoods get back to winning ways against a tough Derby Team.
The Hoods would finish the season against Worthing Thunder, taking the long trip South with only 7 players due to injury and COVID protocols. Despite being short handed the Hoods showed up to play, executing their offence well as Mo Williams put up 10 straight points to start the game, going on to have 30 overall. 16 apiece from Andrew Vickers and Josh Guddemi and a season high 11 assists form Kyle Jimenez just was not enough however as Worthing’s high-powered offence guided them to a win, 100-93.
Hoods enter the New Year with a game against Loughborough Riders. Despite good performances against Loughborough to start the season Hoods know this will be no easy task. New pickups in Justin Hedley and Klodian Muca will have a real impact on the game, while long time veteran Harrison Gamble will look to steady his side. New Coach Will Maynard will certainly be looking to start the year off with a win. Hoods will be looking for big performances from high flying Victor Olarerin in his return from COVID, lightning quick Logan Bailey and defensive maestro Luke Mitchell.
Hoods Head Coach Ben Stanley was effusive when asked about his team and their state going into the New Year:
“We’ve made some big changes this year. A lot of those changes were difficult decisions, but we saw a window of opportunity as a club and we have gone for it. I’ve been so impressed by the way the team has bonded this year and they are a great group of guys to be around. We’ve got to be more consistent in our focus if we want to compete in what is an incredibly talented League this year. We’re looking forward to the challenge and I cannot wait to get back on court this weekend against a Loughborough and see what we can do”.
The Nottingham Hoods Basketball Club play Loughborough Riders at Loughborough University Saturday 08/01/2022, tip at 3pm.
They then play at Nottingham Wildcats Arena vs 15/01/2022 vs Essex Rebels, and 16/01/2022 vs Oaklands Wolves, both games tip at 3pm. Tickets available on the door, or through the Groubook app, where you can find deals and family tickets.
EVERY. MOMENT. MATTERS
Photos courtesy of Evie Collier @eviec94