Worcester Wolves

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The Worcester Wolves is a basketball team from the city of Worcester, which plays in the British Basketball League. The Wolves play at in the 550-seat capacity Sports Hall of the University of Worcester, from whom they receive considerable financial backing and with whom they operate a basketball scholarship programme.

Franchise history

New arena, new franchise

The historic city of Worcester has, until recent years, not had much of a basketball history. Worcester City Chiefs were an active lower league club during the mid-1990s before moving to Solihull in 1996, leaving the city without a major basketball club. This changed in May, 2000 when Roger Clarke and Mick Donovan announced the formation of the Wolves franchise to play at the University of Worcester's brand new £2.5 million 'state of the art' Sports Hall.

Starting low, aiming high

In their first season of action (2000-01) in National Basketball League Division 3 the wolves finished second in the 12 team league with a 18-3 record. Local rivals Bristol Bombers pipped them for the title, however luck would soon swing their way the following season.

Initially placed in the regionalised NBL Division 2 in the "clean sheet reorganisation" of 2001, the Wolves played only the first game of the season in that division before being elevated (ahead of Bristol) into NBL Division 1 when Doncaster withdrew at the start of the season.

University College Worcester Basketball Scholarships became available in September 2002 for talented players to study and play at the same time, and the club attracted a wealth of new talent including Ty Shaw (Idaho), Keith Jarrett and Rikki Prince (Both from Birmingham Bullets) that became the foundations of a strong first team.

Rapid rise

The excellent facilities and organisation which earned them the promotion continue to stand them in good stead, and over the years they became firmly established in what has now been renamed EBL Division 2, and won promotion to EBL Division 1 following an excellent campaign in 2003-04. Despite finishing in second place, behind the London Capitals, they managed to straighten the record by beating them in the Playoff final at the National Indoor Arena, winning 95-87. The victory capped off an excellent season that saw the Wolves also lift the Patron's Cup, following a 111-100 win against Hackney White Heat in the final, which was also played on their home court at the University of Worcester.

Worcester had a reasonably successful debut season (2004-05) in EBL Division 1, finishing above fellow promotion winners London Capitals in 5th place with 13-9 record, which earned them a place in the post season playoffs. They built on their successes for the second season and finished 2005-06 in 4th place with a 17-9 record in the expanded Division 1. That season also saw the Wolves claim their biggest success to date, winning the National Trophy at the SkyDome Arena in Coventry, beating holders Sheffield Arrows 97-82 in the final.

Mixing with the elite

At the end of the 2005-06 season, the British Basketball League, the country's elite league was, not for the first time, suffering a membership crisis with three franchises, Birmingham Bullets, Brighton Bears and London Towers withdrawing from the league set-up. Although the Wolves management have claimed it was always their intention to move into the BBL, the possibility of it happening so quickly seemed near impossible. However with the lack of a West Midlands based franchise in the league, the BBL approached the Wolves and elected them into the elite league [1], along with London United.

2006-07 season

With an influx of new players, including former Plymouth Raider Solomon Sheard, Caja Rioja's Sergio Rodriguez and James Noel of the Masters College all signing up for the new-look team, expectations of upsetting the big boys was high, but the fairy tale beginning never materialized. The Wolves opened the season with a 77-82 loss at home to the Plymouth Raiders on September 30, 2006, and followed that with 21-point loss away to Milton Keynes Lions (74-96). It was a case of third time lucky as, on October 7, 2006, in front of a packed crowd at the "Wolves' Lair", Worcester edged past the Chester Jets with an 82-79 victory and Andy Harper posting 28 points for the home side.

However the Wolves struggled and soon fell behind the pack, spending most of the season at the foot f the table. The highlight of the season for the Midlands club came on January 20, 2007, when second-place Sheffield Sharks were the visitors to the Wolves' Lair. The home side caused, without doubt, the biggest shock of the season by defeating the title-challengers 70-65, a result that would ultimately hand the Championship to Guildford. Despite this moral boosting win, Worcester continued to flounder and ended the season in tenth and last place with just four league wins to their name, eventually forcing head coach Josh Cooprider to resign.

2007-08 season

On July 15, 2007, Wolves announced that former Birmingham Bullets player/coach Skouson Harker would lead the team into the 2007-08 season. The Canadian would occupy a player/coach role for the first team as well as the University team and head the Academy.

Home arenas

University of Worcester (2000-present)

Season-by-season records

Season Div. Pos. Pld. W L Pts. Play Offs Trophy Cup
Worcester Wolves
2000-2001 NBL 3 2nd 22 18 3 36 Semi-final - -
2001-2002 NBL 1 9th 22 7 15 14 DNQ - -
2002-2003 NBL 1 - - - - - - - -
2003-2004 EBL 2 2nd - - - - Winners - Winners
2004-2005 EBL 1 5th 22 13 9 26 - - -
2005-2006 EBL 1 4th 26 17 9 34 1st Round Winners Quarter-final
2006-2007 BBL 10th 36 4 32 8 DNQ 1st Round 1st Round

Notes:

  • In 2001 the NBL was restructured so Division One became the third tier replacing Division Two.
  • In 2003 the NBL was replaced by the EBL which revereted Division Two back to the third tier.
  • DNQ denotes Did Not Qualify.

Trophies

League

  • NBL Division Three Runners Up: 2000/01 1
  • EBL Division Two Runners Up: 2003/04 1

Playoffs

  • NBL Division Two Play Off Winners: 2003/04 1

Trophy

  • National Trophy Winners: 2005/06 1

Cup

  • Patron's Cup Winners: 2003/04 1

Players

Current roster

The numbers are established according to the official websites of the team (www.worcesterwolves.com) and Britain's top professional league, the BBL (www.bbl.org.uk).

As of September 29 2007

4 Template:Country data UK Michael Gayle Point Guard
5 Template:Country data UK Steve Archer Point Guard
6 Template:Country data USA Template:Country data Germany Chuck Evans Point Guard
7 Template:Country data Canada Skouson Harker Forward
9 Template:Country data UK Colin Dockrell Forward
10 Template:Country data UK Shaun Durant Forward/Centre
11 Template:Country data UK Oliver Turner Forward
12 Template:Country data UK Simon Stewart Forward
13 Template:Country data UK Ben Potts Forward
14 Template:Country data USA Anthony Paez Small Forward
21 Template:Country data USA Dave Mallon Centre
22 Template:Country data Germany Markus Hallgrimson Shooting Guard

See also

Notes

  1. Tom Guest (2006). "Wolves win place in British League". Worcester News. Retrieved 2006-12-02.

External links

Template:British Basketball League


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