McCotter is hoping Star can walk tall
Belfast Star chairman Bill McCotter is quietly confident that his club have recruited wisely ahead of the new All-Ireland Superleague season.
Star had a rollercoaster campaign last year when they led the league until Christmas, lost in the semi-finals of the National Cup and in the final of the end-of-season play-offs. Now, they will be hoping the experience gained last year allied to their new additions can see the side once again fight for silverware.
Star have brought in 22-year-old Delaney Blaylock from Lewis University in Chicago as well as Serbian DJ Stankovic and Keelan Cairns, who returns to the club after a period of time playing in Europe. All three are expected to bring in some much-needed size to Star, who meet Templeogue in their opening game at La Salle tonight (6.30pm).
While McCotter likes the look of the new boys, he points to local man Liam Pettigrew as potentially a key factor in their drive for success over the next seven months. Outstanding in the junior ranks for Star, Pettigrew has not quite sparkled in the same manner at Superleague level but McCotter feels that could change this season for the 24-year-old.
"You can't make predictions until you've seen the other sides but I think we have got two good, very athletic new players in Blaylock and Stankovic and having Keelan back at the club is a great boost as well," said McCotter.
"But I feel that Liam Pettigrew can give us a lot this season. The guy is 6ft 8in and I have challenged him to show people what he has got this year.
"We caught a glimpse of his potential at the weekend in our friendly against Sligo and I hope he can take that into the season.
"I know some in the league feel that he hasn't fulfilled his potential, so he has an opportunity now to go and prove to them and everyone else what he can do."
McCotter, along with everyone else at Star, have long invested heavily in the development of young talent, regularly winning the under-age Northern Ireland Basketball Leagues and head coach Adrian Fulton will be giving more teenagers an opportunity this year.
Last season, CJ Fulton, Adrian's 17-year-old son, established himself as the No.1 point guard at the club and he will be joined on the Star roster by 18-year-old Jack Summersgill, son of former Star ace Scott, as well as 17-year-old Irish international Conor McDonald and 17-year-old Conor Ryan, the brother of Adam.
Star's opening match of the campaign is at home to Templeogue with the Belfast men eager to enjoy the fanatical support that was built up last year when coach Fulton turned them into a real force in the league once again.