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Bring me a win, Darling

Mark Woods

Defeats haven't figured much in Tim Darling's life. In fact, he's only had one losing season in a 20 year coaching career. Until probably this season. The reverses have piled up and up since he took over as coach at Leicester Riders in the summer. The Canadian has only presided over one win so far, a single result over... erm, Plymouth Raiders. Hardly the stuff play-off dreams are made of.

Out of the Cup, almost certainly out of the Trophy. Out of luck. At least that beard can't get much greyer.

But he's still fighting, trying to change things around. To get that first proper win against a BBL rival. Darling believes that it is a shortage of true depth which is killing his chances the most.

"If we're playing 3 against 5, that hurts. We want to bring in another player but I don't want to make a mistake. I want someone who can make a big impact, who can help the club and give us some depth.

"Karl Brown is playing 40 minutes a night at point guard. That's unfair. He's realised that and against Manchester, they literally beat the heck out of him. It was a good strategy because they know we don't have any depth at point. 

"I'm looking at another guard to help Karl, either we bring in a 6'6 guard or a true point. A couple of new players is all we need, plus to execute better down the stretch."

Following on from the much derided Dave Harris, it should have been easy for any Riders boss this season to make an impact on the club. Having coached in Canadian collegiate hoops and with a stint with the Hong Kong national team on his resume, Darling's credentials don't bear much resemblance to any of his play-calling colleagues in Britain. 

And he owns up to the fact that his inexperience worked against him.

"Absolutely. For me it was a big adjustment period to British basketball and I think the error I made was that I only brought in players who had played on the continent and who were accustomed to there only being two foreigners. Everything's run for them they don't have to do everything.

"In this league, you have five people who can play, you have to defend people everybody has to rebound. Those two people (John Potter and Tony Moore) unfortunately didn't do it and we had to release them. Our other American (Troy Coleman) got hurt so we've been playing pretty short staffed." 

It doesn't get any easier for the Riders during the onset of winter. A televised clash with rivals Derby, return dates with Edinburgh, Thames Valley and Towers, all of whom who already blotted the Leicester copy book this term. Plus a date with predecessor Bob Donewald. 

Recent signing Purnell Perry has gotten off to a great start in a navy vest but one man does not a winning outfit make. Just ask Sean Loucks.

Tough ? You bet. But don't blame the players who are left on court. Darling puts his hands up and cries: mea culpa.

"I've put us in this precarious position," he admits. "I cut those two players knowing we'd be undermanned. I didn't foresee the amount of injuries we've had since when I did what I did.

"It's unfair on the players but they don't quit. Edinburgh beat us by 19 points when we had five Americans and we came up to their place with three and we were in the game. 

"I told them I wanted guys who believed in what we are trying to do, to play hard regardless. These players have and that's a real positive. I certainly have no complaints with their effort."

With one coach down already this season, the proverbial vultures are inevitably floating over Granby Halls in search of a victim. Darling says that the club's owners have been supportive but concedes that the responsibility falls squarely upon his shoulders to correct the damage done so far.

"I'm still here.  My career winning percentage is about 70%, so this is new. to me. I'm 0 for 99. It's difficult when you're accustomed to having success. In this profession, you have a bad day, it's on TV, it's in the newspapers. It's tough. You do take it home with you."

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