O'Neill desperate for Legrier to star in race for top four
Coach Darren O'Neill's Christmas wish is for American DeAngelo Legrier to hit top gear when Belfast Star return to action on December 30.
Star are clinging to the hope of a place in the top four of the All Ireland Superleague, despite the disappointing manner of their 78-72 loss to DCU Saints on Saturday night.
Just when it seemed Star were going to put a hat-trick of victories together, leading by 11 at the start of the fourth quarter, a combination of the clinical scoring of American Dee Proby and the Belfast men going off the boil allowed the Dubliners to cause an upset.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Star and coach O'Neill as at times they looked the much superior side, just as they were earlier in the season when winning by 20 points. American Legrier had his best game, hitting 18 points and coming up with nine rebounds, but O'Neill insists the best is yet to come as Star chase that fourth spot.
"It was certainly a case of the one that got away on Saturday night. We had the game by the throat and let it slip away, we just couldn't convert enough chances," said O'Neill.
"We have had a bit of a see-saw season and really it's time to get some consistency and I'm hoping that will come in January, particularly because we only have two games due to the National Cup finals and that will give us extra time to work on things. It's also going to allow DeAngelo that time to improve his game and even the next couple of weeks are going to help him build up his fitness.
"In a sense he is at the pre-season stage and we need him to quickly get up to full speed because we are coming into a crucial period.
"I was very pleased with his performance on Saturday night because that was the most minutes he has had since arriving.
"I suppose it was no coincidence that he didn't score in the fourth quarter and that was when the game slipped away from us."
O'Neill's biggest headache will be the injury to Conor Quinn. Only back from an ankle issue, he damaged the same area on Saturday night early in the first quarter.
"There's no doubt that losing Conor was a problem for us, it disrupted the team and we're waiting to see just how bad the injury is," added O'Neill.
"That wasn't why we lost the game but Conor has been very good for us all season."
Clement Kulinicz gave a fine performance for Star, hitting 18 points and claiming 10 rebounds.