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Lindstrom undaunted by Towering challenge


Arriving in Britain in mid-winter is rarely an enlivening experience but David Lindstrom's touchdown co-incides with the bleakest of times in London. Inheriting the toughest job in the BBL after Lino Frattin's dismissal, the new head coach of London Towers faces a battle to restore the fortunes of the under-achieving Crystal Palace outfit.

Barely unpacked, the American himself admits just how tough the task ahead is after the baptism of fire he has had during his first week.

“It’s very difficult, because I’ve only been here a week and we’ve played three games already. We have to go with the stuff that the players have been running so far, but at the same time that stuff hasn’t been working very well, so I think it will an adjustment period. 

“I know we will get through it,” he adds. “The thing is, we play so many games, that the practices are more important to me than the games right now. I think we have a bunch of good people on the team and they all seem to handle themselves well. I think they try to play together on the court and are pretty unselfish. I think it is a good nucleus to work with, so it’s just a matter of putting some of my stuff in. The players have responded pretty well so far.

“I have never been put in this situation before and talking to the team and having individual talks with the players, a couple of them have been in this situation before, but most of them haven’t. It’s just a learning experience for everybody.”

Lindstrom’s first three games were an 81-58 defeat to Lithuanian side Zalgiris Kaunas, a 101-96 loss away to Thames Valley Tigers and then an 82-81 win at home to Newcastle Eagles.

“We were really happy to win against Newcastle, but there are a lot of things that we have to improve on. It’s nice to win a game when you feel that you didn’t play even near to as good as you could play. It was the third game in four days, so I thought it was a pretty good effort by the guys to come out and win.”

He confesses that he was relying heavily on his players during his first week in charge. As he put it, “the players know more about Newcastle than I do, so they should know what to expect.”

It seems inevitable that the newcomer will look to make changes to a roster which never truly gelled under the guidance of Frattin. With the Euroleague already a lost cause, Towers will look for salvation in the NEBL after Christmas while making a run for the BBL Championship.

Lindstome admits his knowledge of the BBL comes from word of mouth and following news on the internet. However, he knows enough to be clear on what he has let himself in for.

“I know that the BBL is a very athletic league and the teams have good individual skills. London Towers have a history of having a very good programme. That, as well as having the opportunity to play in the Euroleague, which is probably the second best league in the world, was a factor in my coming here.”

So Lindstrom is not unfamiliar with the BBL, but many hoops fans in this country may not know what to expect from him. Nevertheless, Towers fans should not worry – Lindstrom boasts plenty of experience all around the world. 

He explains, “I coached for nine years at university level in the US at the University of Puget Sound in Washington. That’s an NCAA school and we won the National Championship one year and were later in the top ten in the nation.

“I had played professionally around the world, in Europe, in the Philippines and in Australia, so after coaching in the US, I got the chance to go back and coach in the national league in Australia, which is a pretty good league. 

“After 12 years there my wife, who had followed me around for 31 years, wanted our son, who was a freshman in college, to go to school in States, so I told her to pick where she wanted to live. My family went back home and for a few years I was away from my family. One year I was still in Australia and the next couple of years I was coaching in Japan. 

“For the last year I have been back in the US and spent a lot of time with my family. Then, this opportunity came up and my family have all been very supportive of me coming over here to coach the Towers.”

Lindstrom is happy to be at the Towers, but he is ambitious as well. Those plans, however, are long term and in the short term, he has more modest aims.

“My focus is that we don’t want to worry too much about who we are playing, as much as worrying about what we can do. Right now, we are not doing a lot of things well – we are doing some things pretty good and we are doing some other things not so good. We need to get a lot better at what we do at both ends of the court and then other teams will have to worry about us.

“We have some good quickness in the outside areas and we move the ball and are pretty unselfish in that way – those are positives. However, our defence has got to get better, our intensity has got to get better and we need to run the floor, whether we are running it to get back on defence or pushing the ball on offence. We need to understand that and everybody needs to get on the same page in what we are trying to do.”

With half of their Group B Euroleague campaign to come, as well as doemstic honours, there’s plenty for Lindstrom and company to chase.

“We have things we need to improve on,” he insists. “And until we get to that level, we are probably going to be inconsistent, but we will get there.”

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