Northumbria Must Refocus: Bunten

Posted by Simon Rushworth

Northumbria Must Refocus: Bunten

Chris Bunten will hold clear the air talks with his players this week as Team Northumbria bid to end their season with a double push for silverware.

For the second successive WBBL campaign injuries have destroyed any hopes of a top four league finish and seen the Sport Central club exit the National Cup early.

However, with key players returning to fitness and the chance for success on two fronts, Bunten is adamant that a mid-season malaise stops now.

“As well as going through the video of Sunday’s defeat against Sevenoaks Suns we'll have a frank discussion about the short-term future,” he said.

“It was very disappointing to see us lose another game on Sunday and it’s not a good feeling at the moment.

“Sure, it’s been a disjointed season to date but I don’t want that to be an excuse and it’s not.

“We’re just not playing well – end of story.

“There’s no mental focus or discipline in terms of the gameplan.

“We haven’t surpassed 55 points in any of our last five BUCS or WBBL games and that’s simply not good enough.”

TN were beaten 77-53 by champions elect Sevenoaks Suns – with former Sport Central favourite Cat Carr bagging a game high 22 points - but should cling on to sixth place heading into the end-of-season playoffs.

Bunten and star forward Hannah Shaw will be back from Commonwealth Games duty by then and the coach is confident there’s still everything to play for between now and the summer.

“Sevenoaks’ coach came up to me after the game and said that was the best any team has played against them all season,” he added.

“It was a nice thing to say but it doesn’t detract from the fact that we didn’t do what we set out to do from the tip-off and didn’t do our jobs.

“I’ll be looking at why that is from a coach’s point of view and I’d expect the players to do the same.

“We must focus on this week’s BUCS quarter-final against Cardiff and put ourselves in a position where we can make the semis and ultimately contest the Championship game.

“After that the focus swings back to the WBBL – I don’t think we’ll finish higher or lower than sixth now and so we must prepare for a tough away tie in the quarter-finals when I’m back from the Commonwealths.”

The WBBL Championship takes a break during the action in Australia’s Gold Coast with the WBBL Trophy taking centre stage.

And it is hoped the latter will, at the very least, give the returning Kara Bonenberger vital game time as the centre looks to attain 100% match fitness.

“Kara was one of the few positives to come out of the Sevenoaks match,” added Bunten. “We’d earmarked 10-12 minutes for her first game back but she played more than 20 and told me she felt fine.

“Kara looks after herself when she’s out injured and is in good condition overall. She just needs to work on that match fitness and it will come.”

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