In this edition of TUB 5 I talk to Hull Wasps Coach Matthew Fawcett. We discuss the popularity of grassroots hoops, the English Basketball League (EBL) and pre-season preparation.
Where did your love for the game come from and how did you get involved in coaching?
I have always played in and around the Hull area. My first experience of the senior national league was in Division 2 for the Hull Stingers (men’s team at the time). I did this not long after my 16th birthday, so it was a physical challenge to say the least. I played for the Stingers for the next few years. At 18 I was looking to play out in the States and was introduced to the now Leeds Met Coach Matt Newby. Matt sent me out to work as a coach at the 76ers summer camps, in the hope of being spotted. Whilst I was there, though, I started loving the coaching side and ended up returning to work for the 76ers for the next six years, meeting and playing with their players along the way. In 2010 our head coach at the Wasps stepped down and I jumped at the chance. Now, heading into my third season as a player-coach, I don’t regret making the transition one bit.
How happy are you with the Wasps’ performance since the club was formed and is the team well supported?
The Hull Wasps currently play in Division 4 in the EBL. The club was formed in 2008 and since then it has gone on to achieve some fantastic things. The club has always been up near the top of the table competing for promotion but has always fallen just short. However, off the court we have had some terrific success stories. In 2010 we had a game where over 850 people turned up, for Division 4! That is unheard of in this country! The club is heading in the right direction and now we just need to follow our off-the-court success with on-the-court success.
Is there a strong appetite for basketball in and around Hull?
Having been involved with grassroots basketball in Hull for nearly a decade, we have had ups and downs. The biggest problem we face, as most coaches will tell you, is funding. Hull also has a notoriously poor catchment area, which not only affects the number of players but the number of coaches too and means that the overall standard has always been behind the rest of the country. This is slowly being changed, with clubs like the Wasps changing the basketball culture. We are doing this by getting into schools, colleges and universities locally and trying recreate the success of local clubs. It is slowly changing here in Hull, but there is still lots of work to do.
How have the team been preparing this offseason?
My whole ethos for this pre-season has been to change things. Whatever we have done over the last four seasons hasn’t got us over the hump. I won’t change my message and how I coach; however, we as players have got into habits, good or bad, and sometimes a refreshing change can tap into potential we didn’t know we had. We have also been busy recruiting and showing players that Hull is a great place to play ball, especially with an unrivalled fan base like the Wasps have.
What are the team’s goals heading into the 2013-14 season?
We should have a healthy and competitive squad this year and hopefully with the slight changes I am making we could push for Division 3 again!