Marriott faces rebuilding project as Haskins injury starts domino effect
Plymouth Raiders face being without their senior point-guard Gabe Haskins for all of pre-season.
The problem creates a huge headache for new Raiders head coach Jay Marriott, who is desperate in the next two weeks to assess the squad he has inherited from his sacked predecessor, Gavin Love.
The rookie BBL coach, only one week into the job, already has a lot on his plate. This is the last thing Marriott needs.
The Raiders' opening league game is against London Lions at Plymouth Pavilions and is scheduled for Sunday, September 29.
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Italian-American Haskins, 28, whom Love recruited from BBL rivals Cheshire Phoenix this summer, has a back problem. He ranked fifth in the league in assists last season.
Haskin's absence in such a key position, unbalances the rest of Raiders' roster in a domino effect.
"It hurts us, definitely," said Marriott. "Gabe's a very important player for us."
In back-to-back opening pre-season friendlies, Haskins completed three uncomfortable minutes against Birmingham Knights at the Pavilions last Saturday before sitting out Sunday's visit of Reading Rockets entirely.
Haskins' loss forced Marriott to start putting square pegs in round holes.
On Sunday, he started American rookie Jarvis Jones, who is a utility guard who can play either position in the backcourt.
On defence, Jones could not guard Rockets point-guard Josh Wilcher and hit early foul trouble, forcing Marriott to bench him before half-time and verbally dress him down in front of his team-mates.
Marriott immediately switched Donald Robinson to run the Raiders' offence at point-guard, but Robinson classily led the team in scoring in both contests at the weekend.
The Raiders really want him firing on all cylinders in his natural position on the wing, as a shooting-guard.
Marriott then blooded academy prospect Jordan McClelland, who, after early errors, shone in the heat of the battle.
He kept Wilcher where he could see him in defence, in front of him, and completed two assists in offence.
"The big plus for me was Jordan McClelland. He was outstanding," said Marriott following last Sunday's final buzzer.
"When you have guys who are not necessarily doing what you ask them to do and you put a young lad in, it makes a statement. He was fantastic, because he's still got that level of desperation."
Haskins should be fit for September 29 and the visit of Lions, who boast former Raider and quality veteran point-guard Rod Brown.
However, Haskins' fitness levels may be below-par if he has to sit out practice for two weeks. "Gabe's come in and he's struggling," said Marriott. "He felt it was a trapped nerve in his back.
"We've checked him out and really it's just about getting him into a good stretching routine with the physio as much as we can."
Marriott added of rookie Jones: "You could see Jarvis start to get a handle on the game against Reading, but then just a bit of immaturity crept in and we rushed a little bit too much. That's from both the coaches and players."
Marriott will monitor Haskins closely this week ahead of the Raiders' third friendly against USA Select at the Pavilions on Friday.
Raiders wrap up their pre-season schedule at French division two team Le Portel on Saturday.