You joined the Riders last year. What prompted the move and how impressed have you been with the club’s setup and approach to basketball?
It was the coach that prompted me to move and the education I would get alongside quality coaching. Matt impressed me with his attention to detail and how honest he was about the things I needed to improve on. I’ve been more than impressed with the programme and everything it offers which is why I’m happy to have been invited back onto the team for next season.
As a combo guard, what’s your approach to dictating the tempo of the offence? Do you naturally look to score the ball or would you describe yourself more as a facilitator?
When I’m playing point guard I like to play uptempo and quick, only really slowing it down for tactical reasons; for example, if we are winning with a few minutes to go or if we need a score I’d slow it down and call an offence if nothing was on. Overall I would describe myself as more of a facilitator with the ability to score. If you don’t look for your own options you become easy to guard, so it’s key to find the right balance between the two to be successful at that position.
Tough defence is an important aspect of your game and you’re known for your ability to guard virtually all positions; where did your love of shutting the opposition down come from and what are the key aspects of lock-down defence?
Defence for me isn’t a tactical thing, it comes from pride and how much heart you have. I’ve played every position on the court so with that I’ve defended them too and there’s just something about stopping key players scoring that I love. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it doesn’t go my way but I just love the battle. Defence is one on one; it only becomes more than that if you lose your one-on-one battle. That’s the way I see it so I grit my teeth and do what it takes. I prefer getting stops or bullying other point guards to scoring! The love of defence came from when I first started playing. I used to play with boys and, because I was playing with boys, I had to be super aggressive and be able to guard them, otherwise I wouldn’t play and I guess that explains the foul count I rack up as well.
You’re returning as co-captain this year; how much of an honour is it to wear the armband and what makes a good leader both on and off the court?
It’s great just to be returning but returning as captain, yeah, it is a real honour. Being a captain to me is saying the things that need to be said and holding yourself and everybody else accountable. It’s also making sure the team gel on court, no matter how they feel about each other off court. Fortunately we are lucky to have a team that like each other on and off court which always helps. The off court stuff to me almost isn’t important; part of being an elite athlete is not letting petty things off court affect chemistry on court.
How important to the growth and development of women’s basketball in Britain are schemes such as the Loughborough-Riders partnership?
I think programmes like the Riders women’s programme are going to be key to the success of British basketball in the future. The Riders programme targets players at grassroots level and then provides a pathway for them to develop without having to go overseas. It also allows players to study alongside playing basketball with no restrictions on the coaches’ contact time with the players. By recruiting players who are doing 3/4 year courses, the programme becomes sustainable so it’s not a new team each year. Hopefully in the near future other programmes will follow in these footsteps and I’m very excited for the upcoming season and feel privileged to be a part of this programme.
Image: GB Basketball