Ipswich giving the kids a chance after promotion dream dies
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich head coach Nick Drane is giving his youngsters a chance to play their way into his squad for next season after conceding the Suffolk side’s promotion dream has died, following their 85-72 loss to Liverpool.
Their difficult season took another turn for the worse on Saturday when a depleted squad travelled all the way to Liverpool.
Despite putting up a valiant effort the team were on the receiving end of an 85-72 loss that now sees them with an 8-7 record and battling just to keep their heads above the .500 mark for the rest is the season.
Drane’s team started pre-season with such promise and a handful of new recruits that were expected to tip Ipswich over the edge in their pursuit of promotion to Division One, but with seven games still to play Drane is down to just three experienced players, making the rest of his team up with academy players as he looks to the future.
The team’s lack of firepower is in part due to luck and also because in recent weeks the coach has decided to ‘clear shop’ to get ready for next season.
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Professional centre Leigh Greenan has been out since December and will not play again this season.
Ex-England international Taner Adu left the team due to other commitments, while American import Ryan Wilson never even stepped on court for the team due to new visa regulations.
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In addition, exciting guard Josh Johnson parted ways with the team after last week’s capitulation in the final two minutes against Derby Arrows.
To add to the team’s problems, new guard Eddie Ferreira, who arrived in Ipswich in the new year, has played the last two games injured and is looking increasingly like having to miss games to get healthy for the playoffs – should Ipswich hold on to a top eight finish.
To put things into perspective, on Saturday, if you take veteran captain Tom Sadler out of the equation, the average age of Ipswich’s players was just 17-years-old.
And the youngsters did fight well, promising 16-year-old Caleb Fuller leading the way with 19 points, while Sadler added 15 and Tyme Regent-Bascombe also scored 15.
Rory Winter, 17, played extended minutes in the absence of Ferreira and Johnson, and also impressed.
Drane said: “We are not going up this year, and we invested in putting a team on the floor that we thought could achieve that, now that it’s not possible it’s a very simple plan – give the kids a chance and see who’s ready for this level next season and where the gaps are”.
Of Fuller and Winter, he added: “Those two lads showed me they are ready, that’s the process now.”
Ipswich are back in Suffolk for a double header next weekend and are still hoping to attract a big crowd to both games as they want this new generation of players to get the experience of playing in front of a big crowd under their belt.
“We had 400 in there for the Loughborough game, it will be great for these kids to experience that” added Drane.
Ipswich face London Westside on the Saturday and are doing a special offer on the Sunday against Nottingham Hoods of just £2 entry for adults and £1 for everyone else.