Rod Brown urges Plymouth Raiders to be aggressive in back-to-back games
ROD BROWN has urged Marjon Plymouth Raiders to be more aggressive and less submissive in back-to-back contests this weekend.
Raiders entertain Surrey Heat in the BBL Championship tomorrow (7.30pm) before defending champions and leaders Newcastle Eagles visit on Sunday (4pm).
There are seven weeks left of a super competitive regular season, which promises to make the play-offs in April explosive and unpredictable.
It's all to play for – if Raiders can perform at a high level consistently, something they haven't done through the opening four and a half months of the campaign.
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Veteran point-guard Brown said: "This weekend is a big opportunity for us to get back on track and find our identity now.
"The standings are really tight. It only makes it more interesting. We want to win; we don't want to be down about losing."
Brown, 34, and back-up big-man Andreas Schreiber, 25, continue to be relatively new faces in an eight-deep core rotation.
This is the fourth week Raiders' new-look line-up has spent together. Since coach Gavin Love made both changes, Raiders have gone 2-2.
But, encapsulating their up and down form in 2012/13, Raiders yo-yoed 3-3 in their final six contests with Brown's predecessor, Jeremy Bell running the show.
"We have my experience now in the backcourt and we have Andreas' presence inside," said Brown.
"It takes time when you have new faces, like we have had. Hopefully we can turn it around.
"This is the time now to really build chemistry and play your best basketball.
"The main goal is to help the team win. I'm looking forward to the opportunity of helping Plymouth do that.
"It's not going to happen overnight, because teams around the league know what everyone's about now. They've read the scouting report.
"We can't always go to our first option. We have to use our second and third options."
Brown, who spent six consecutive seasons (2005-11) playing at the highest level in Europe, in Spain, Greece and Italy, added: "We have to have urgency. We can't all stand around and wait for someone else to do something.
"Let's hit our opponents before they hit us. It's like we're waiting to be attacked.
"We need to be the aggressor and strike first, because the first two or three minutes of any game are so important. They set the tone."
Raiders boss Love, who, like Brown, pulled few punches in interviews this week, said: "Practice has been good. We've been looking at different line-ups and what's our best line-up defensively.
"We certainly need to shake things up, because we've had some decent spurts this season but we haven't been playing great.
"We need to try something new this weekend."
Love, whose team are coming off a 94-84 defeat at Glasgow Rocks last Sunday, added: "We just have to have the right attitude. What we do now won't erase the games we've lost this season, but it can give us some confidence.
"We're not going to win the league now, but we can battle it out for a top-four finish.
"Two good performances this weekend would be a good way of starting to go about doing that."
Brown, who says he is fully recovered from a hamstring strain, added: "We have to be more resilient mentally; we have to be thick skinned in games.
"Last weekend, we let Glasgow set the tempo in the first five minutes and I blame myself for that. I'm the point-guard.
"We let Glasgow think, 'Okay, we can play with Plymouth; we can beat them'."
Heat have been the surprise package so far this campaign.
They continue to punch above their weight, but have now hit their first real wobble.
Heat, whose former leading scorer, shooting-guard Martelle McLemore is out for the season with an ankle problem, have lost four of their last five contests.
That was after winning seven from eight games.
Love, naturally, is solely focused on correcting Raiders' problems.
He said of his players' ability to really hit form now: "We're more than capable, but we need to play with more confidence and stop turning down good shots on offence.
"We can't rely on the same guys who are doing it for us to keep doing it. We need other guys to step up.
"We've got guys who are capable of giving us huge games, but in recent weeks haven't come close to it."
Love added: "It's not just about scoring, it's about rebounding the ball, playing defence – all those things.
"You don't have to score 25 points to be effective, but you have to bring energy, something to the table. We just need to play harder."
Eagles, on an eight-game winning streak in the league, also have problems.
Player-boss Fab Flournoy (hip) has sat two weeks out, while point-guard Damon Huffman (groin) has been sidelined for three weeks.
"All teams have chemistry problems at some point and we've certainly had some this season," said Love. "It happens. We're trying to put it right."