Picture credit: Mansoor Ahmed. Nottingham Wildcats in action with Kenrick Liburd (right) watching on.

By Milo Clay

The Nottingham Wildcats are aiming to be in the top two in the country despite a ‘different atmopshere’ due to the pandemic, says head coach Kenrick Liburd. 

Wildcats currently sit fourth in the WBBL power rankings and second in the North Cup, with a record of 2-2.

But Liburd, who is also a basketball coach for Great Britain, feels the team are still aiming high in spite of the difficult circumstances.

We want to be top 2 in the country, we want to be right there,” he said. 

“We have two losses but for us the other loss in the league was against Leicester who currently sit top.

“But that was only a five point game and were leading with 2 minutes left on the clock and the other loss was against Sevenoaks Suns in the cup, and that again was only a 2 point loss.

“Most people are going to struggle with constant change but this is what the season looks like and you’re thankful that you get to play, that’s something that everybody can’t not be grateful for.”

Picture credit: Mansoor Ahmed. Head coach Liburd giving his team instructions.

Although Liburd is targeting a high finish this year, he admits that the season is out of the ordinary due to the coronavirus protocols.

He said: “I think we are coping as well as can be expected, it’s obviously challenging because change is the name of the game.

“When I went to study abroad I was able to do social things like go out for a meal so the whole dynamic creates a different atmosphere in your group that you have to be conscious of.

“We’ve had two games postponed, we also had the cup final where we were put into it to replace a team but then that got cancelled, so one week you’re about to play on Sky and then you’re not.” 

The current league protocols for the WBBL is for players to be tested twice on a weekly basis and Liburd feels the decision to continue women’s basketball was a massive boost for the sport:

I think it was a huge decision to continue elite level women’s basketball because I think the league has got so much better, it’s improving all the time.” 

Picture credit: Mansoor Ahmed. A huge block for the Wildcats at the rim.

Last time out the Wildcats suffered a 95-91 overtime defeat to the Essex Rebels, only a week after beating them 98-67 and the head coach was left discontented with the result.

He said: “Obviously during that second loss it was very frustrating, an overtime loss where we weren’t very good and didn’t really show up until the second half but these things happen.

We can make loads of excuses as to why we weren’t good enough and why we were in that situation but at the end of the day they came in prepared and we didn’t do enough to win the game.” 

The Wildcats are back in action again tomorrow against the BA London Lions and Liburd is eager to see how his team responds.

He said: “We expect to be much better defensively, we were very poor defensively and flat.

They (Rebels) played well but we didn’t prepare properly and this week we will prepare properly, we got on the floor today and we’ll get on the floor again tomorrow.”