No hiding places in new-look team, says Love
Plymouth Raiders cannot afford to carry passengers in the British Basketball League this season, says coach Gavin Love.
Love has again gone for a seven-strong roster this summer, but retained only one face from 2012-13, in starting centre Andreas Schreiber.
Raiders started the last campaign with star guards Jeremy Bell and Michael Ojo running riot in their backcourt and combined averaging more than 40 points per game. Both have left the club and Love, who has had a smaller playing budget this year, says Raiders may not boast the same scoring punch in 2013-14.
"There's no hiding place for them," said Love of his rebuilt team. "There are no Jeremy Bells this year. These guys all have to step up and play well."
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This summer, alongside Schreiber, Love has recruited guards Gabe Haskins and Donald Robinson, and forward Ben Eaves, all of whom have a year under their belt in the BBL and last season averaged between 12.2 points and 15.2 points per game.
Rookie American guard Jarvis Jones has also arrived alongside forwards Garrius Holloman and Shane Walker from New Zealand's and Holland's top divisions, respectively.
Holloman and Walker, in a recurring trend, too, are both entering their second seasons in professional basketball.
Alluding to his smaller playing budget, Love said: "At the end of the day, yes, we'd like more experience on the team, but that's just not been possible this year.
"I'm happy with the players we have. They've all played well in the past. Some maybe just need a good situation to be in."
In Raiders' backcourt, Haskins, Jones and Robinson will share minutes at point-guard and shooting-guard.
At small-forward Holloman and Eaves will typically feature, while inside at power-forward and centre Walker and Schreiber respectively will fill the majority of minutes.
Third-year professional Schreiber, 26, has the most experience on the roster.
The age span on Raiders' new-look squad is 23-28 and Love hopes that can help build team chemistry.
He said: "We've got some young players this year. That's going to help us and it's going to hinder us. But we have enthusiastic, hungry players who want to get here and want to start working.
"I think having guys who are all a similar age will allow us to bond a little bit more."
In college basketball in the USA, Jones averaged 16.0 points per game last season, while in New Zealand Holloman averaged 18.6 points a contest.
Love believes neither will consistently have to do that in 2013-14 with better players around them, but is happy they have that experience and that ability in their locker. He said: "Jarvis and Garrius have had to carry teams in the past. They won't have to do that here, but because they've been used to doing it, they can step up for us."
Raiders report for week one of a three-week pre-season training camp next Monday. They then play three friendlies, beginning at the Pavilions against new BBL club Birmingham Knights on Saturday, September 14.
EBL Division One team Reading Rockets then visit the next day on September 15 before Raiders face USA Select on Friday, September 20.
Raiders' opening league game is at home against London Lions on Sunday, September 29.