When Head Coach Nick Drane announced he would be standing down at the end of the season, anyone who knows anything about Ipswich Basketball Club knew that things were going to be different.
When seven-foot star player Leigh Greenan made the decision to take his talents to professional team Hemel Storm, people again knew that the team would have a very different feel. The team had lost their most recognisable personality from the sideline, and most dominant player from the court.
Since then, there have been further changes meaning the team will have a very different look heading into the 2017/2018 season. Drane has been replaced by his experienced assistant coach, John Ellis.
Greenan, such a supreme and dominant force, has signed for pro-team Hemel Storm in a well-publicised departure, with an eye on the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
“I think we are going to be a very tough, physical team that won’t be outworked – I’m really excited about the opportunity I’ve been given to lead this group” – Head Coach John Ellis
In August, the club received the news that starting point guard Edson Ferreira has returned to Portugal where he has received multiple offers from professional teams while athletic guard Luke Mascall-Wright has signed his first pro-contract, with Viterbo in Italy’s Serie C. Talented eighteen year old wing Caleb Fuller, who has one more year before he heads out to University in America, has had a very busy off-season, helping the Great Britain u18 Men to a silver medal at the European Championships and has subsequently been recruited by NBL Division One, Kent Crusaders.
There is also still uncertainty surrounding the future of long-serving captain Tom Sadler; the veteran forward, who turned 35 this summer, missed eight games last season due to injury, including the final six. This essentially means that, at best the team will have four new starters for the coming season. Add that to the departures of young talents Rory Winter and Josh Apple, who both became key players last season, and are moving on by the way of scholarships to University in America.
New Head Coach John Ellis, however, is embracing the challenge and was also quick to point out that the team is in this position because they have done such a good job developing players.
“It’s not like guys have simply jumped ship and quit on us,” he pointed out. “Eddie, Leigh, Luke and Caleb are all leaving to play at a higher level. While we are incredibly proud of the set-up here in Ipswich, we are not a professional team – these guys will all be playing at the pro level next season, that’s an awesome reflection on the pathway we have here in Ipswich.
“Tom’s situation is a little more complicated; his body let him down last season and if ever there is a guy that holds himself to high standards it’s Tom. Quite simply, if he can’t be Tom Sadler, and lead us – he won’t play. We will have to wait and see….
“Leigh Greenan is impossible to replace, he’s one of a kind, but I’m confident that we will have a team that will once again be very tough to beat in Division Two. Luke and Caleb are both young guys that came through the academy, and we know that there is more talent like them coming through the system.”
Speaking about the new-look roster he and assistant coach Rob Schatten are in the process of assembling for the new campaign, Ellis continued: “We have a couple more guys to come in, but I think we are going to be a very tough, physical team that won’t be outworked – I’m really excited about the opportunity I’ve been given to lead this group.”
The team still has a ton of experience, led by Colin Dockrell, who will be supported as ever, by a number of talented academy players who will get the chance to play at a very high level at a young age.
Ipswich open their season with the return of Team USA Select, the hugely popular fixture having seen a sell-out crowd and enthralling game last season. Team USA visit Copleston on September 16th
The Patrons Cup follows the next weekend, with IBC at home to Essex Leopards on September 23rd. Their first league game is away to Derbyshire Arrows on October 7th.
As ever, big, raucous crowds from the local area are invited to attend and get behind Ipswich Basketball Club.
To book season tickets, please contact Dave Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.