Learning curve for Oaklands Wolves after ‘important’ first win

Oaklands Wolves head coach Kenrick Liburd keeps an eye on the action

Oaklands Wolves head coach Kenrick Liburd keeps an eye on the action - Credit: Archant

Oaklands Wolves Basketball suffered a weekend of mixed emotions but head coach Kenrick Liburd says that will only help his young team.

On Saturday the fledgling Women’s British Basketball League side (WBBL) won their first game at only the second attempt by beating Cardiff Met Archers in Wales.

But they were brought down to earth with a bump on Sunday, losing at home to Manchester Mystics.

But according to the coach, those swings in mood are what will help the Wolfpack grow as individuals and a team.

He said: “It’s about getting them to think about what excellence looks like for us, not everybody else. Let’s not be like any other group, let’s be like us every day.

“That’s not easy for us to do when you’re young but it was a new experience.

We had the elations of our first win [on Saturday] and then a physical team that’s going to be a strong play-off side.

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“It’s all lessons for us and if we learn from them, they are a good thing.

“The more experience we get, the better we’ll be at dealing with them.”

On Sunday Manchester had at one point amassed a 37-point lead but thanks to a strong finish in the fourth quarter, Wolves closed the gap slightly.

He continued: “We went away from the behaviours that make us successful in practice and a game environment to try and play in a way we didn’t need to play. The moments we did that, we didn’t have success.

“We know we’re going to play good in the fourth quarter but I think we focused on defence first and getting stops. Our defence can get us points. When we are disciplined and willing to play hard-nosed defence, we’re pretty good.

“But when we think we’ve got to score, just like anything, we start putting pressure on ourselves that we don’t need to.”

Liburd though was delighted at the club’s first win over Cardiff, saying it was important not only to get it, but to get it early.

He said: “As a coaching staff and a club we’ve always felt we could compete with this group.

“When you go away and pick up a win against a side with players that are seasoned veterans in this league and in this country, we did our job and won a close game.

“We didn’t know we could do that; we could say we could do it but we didn’t know we could. Now we know we can.

“They are a play-off team, they mixed it with the likes of Manchester last season and beat them so we know we can beat teams like that at this level.

“It was a good win for us and it was exciting but we’ve got a lot of work to do. It doesn’t stop because you win and it doesn’t stop if you lose. That’s the nature of the game.”