Belfast Telegraph

Basketball: O'Neill wants Star men to get nasty

By David Kelly

Darren O'Neill has called on his players show a ruthless edge when they clash with Killester in the National Cup tomorrow night (7.15pm).

While Belfast Star enjoyed a dramatic overtime victory over big rivals University of Ulster last weekend, O'Neill was far from pleased with their defensive display.

He accepts that a repeat performance would be severely punished by the Dubliners tomorrow evening in the UUJ Sports Centre.

Despite having won two Superleague titles and been to the National Cup finals weekend on numerous occasions, Star have never captured the trophy and in recent years have failed to enjoy a good run, which is something O'Neill wants to put right this season.

O'Neill said: "Last week against UU we showed character to dig deep and win but I was very disappointed with the performance, particularly defensively.

" We have to get mean in defence and that means being a lot more aggressive. We are about building on our defence - it's from there that we build our offence. We are not a free flowing, scoring team so we have to get the defence right and against UU we gave up too many easy points.

" Killester have two very good Americans and if we play like that on Saturday night they will hurt us a lot."

Star have beaten the Dubliners in the league this season but it was a tight affair and another close encounter is expected.

O'Neill, though, is expecting to have a full strength bench for the first time this year with Chris Smye ready to take to the court after a lengthy lay-off.

"Chris trained well on Tuesday night and I he will be on the bench and will get minutes but just how much he can give us is something that we'll just have to wait and see.

"Bt the good thing is that he gives us a second point guard and it means that Bobby Kelly and Stephen Dawson can go back to their natural positions on the wing."

Belfast Telegraph


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