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.
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.”
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.
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
“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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