SKIPPER Joe Chapman says Newcastle Eagles’ “bigs” have been cut down to size by a confidence crisis this season.
Combined that with Chapman’s own shooting problems – which he is working hard to remedy – and you have two of the major reasons why the Eagles have conceded early ground to Leicester in the battle for BBL supremacy.
Chapman is candid about the Eagles’ need to improve “in all areas” after losing out in the biggest match of the season so far, the BBL Cup final in Birmingham.
Newcastle responded with an emphatic defeat of Sheffield but Chapman – who notched 41 points in the easy win – says they will prove their character by winning the big games stacking up over the Spring.
He said: “There’s a lot of improvement from this team to come.
“Everyone needs to improve. Everyone needs to get better – and I include myself in that.
“I’ve changed my game to become more of an assist-provider but even if I’m an assist guy I need to be shooting the ball better.
“I feel like I am getting towards that. A lot of it was to do with my elbow, which was injured at the start of the season. That has healed now and I’m confident you’ll see my numbers go up.
“The whole team is starting to look better.
“The big guys haven’t produced as well as they can do, but hopefully that is beginning to come to an end because that is one thing we have addressed.”
Chapman added: “We need to get more from the ‘bigs’.
“It just comes from a lack of confidence, I think.
“They maybe missed one or two buckets early in the season and they get a bit down or start to doubt themselves, but it’s just about confidence and I think you can see them picking up recently.
“They will be starting to show their real form over the next few weeks because we all know they are really great players and we believe in them and trust them.”
Captain Chapman has been posting steady improvements on a personal level, but was disappointed with the way they surrendered a great opportunity in the BBL Cup final.
He revealed they were back on the practice court within hours of returning to Newcastle.
He said: “It’s about taking strides in the right direction.
“We lost the Cup but we were back in the gym on Monday, there was no break. It is about getting better for us – we can’t do anything about that game but we can do something about improving and challenging for all three pieces of silverware. We had a lot of new guys in that competition and we just have to take the positives out of the situation.
“They have experienced a low and now they have to bounce back from that.”
Leicester now stand as a major hurdle for Newcastle to overcome in the battle for the three remaining pieces of silverware.
Add Worcester into the mix as well as a strong-looking Surrey and Plymouth and Chapman knows they will have their work cut out for them over the next few weeks, starting with the visit of Mersey Tigers tomorrow.
Chapman says they should still go for the play-off, league and Trophy titles.
Chapman added: “It is realistic to think about winning the next three. We are still in all three competitions and we can still win all three competitions. “