Storm round off year with Hoods showdown!

14/12/2023

GAME PREVIEW
Saturday 16th December - 7.00pm tip off
Nottingham Hoods vs Hemel Storm, NBL Division One

Hemel Storm will face a challenging journey up to Nottingham this Saturday in a clash locking two teams with aspirations for the top end of the table together in what promises to be a heavyweight battle. Hosts - the Nottingham Hoods sit 5th in the standings, with a positive 6-4 record and the travelling Storm sit just above them in 3rd with 6 wins and 3 losses to their own name. As the season comes to a halt for the winter break, this tie already feels crucial in the tussle for home playoff positions, with just the top 4 securing a home quarter-final, all those months away in April.

The first half of the campaign has been a transitional period for Storm, as they adjusted to many changes, both in roster and perhaps mindset, after their unprecedented unbeaten record last season. New men have had to stand up as figure-heads, after a mass summer exodus of on-court talent as well as strong leadership, and despite some tricky moments, the side have shown potential, and still find themselves in a fruitful league position. Storm will hope to follow up on an encouraging recent period, where they took high-flying Reading Rockets close and claimed a dominant victory over the Birmingham Rockets, in arguably their best all-round performance as a squad. Crucial in their recent upturn has been their improving high-intensity defence - Storm rank second in the league in least points conceded per game - as they have used their athletic roster and a combination of zonal defensive tactics with traditional man defence to rush their opposition into mistakes. Personal battles will also be important for Storm this weekend, as they look to big players to stand up and show themselves in an important game, something that has been lacking at points so far this year. Sam Newman will be vital in controlling the tempo of the game, ensuring Storm maintain control and a calm mind as they look to run the game as though they are the home side, not the away. His creative ability will also be a major factor in kick-starting Storm’s offence, and there may be added motivation for Newman as he sits second in the assists charts, behind only Johde Campbell who will suit up for the Hoods on Saturday determined to hang on to top spot! Newman may look to feed big man, Hakeem Sylla, who has been Storm’s main outlet for both points and rebounds this year, averaging a tick under a double-double with 22.1 points and 9.9 rebounds. He leads the league in efficiency and will hope to dominate what will be a competitive inside battle on Saturday, with Nottingham posing their own presence inside. American big-man Greg Skoric will use all of his 6 ft-11 height to battle with Sylla, and Skoric leads the league in rebounds setting up a vital contest, as Storm must outcompete on the rebounds to limit second-chance points for the Hoods - a feature not high on Storm’s list of achievements so far this term. Seasoned competitor Josh Guddemi also lines up for the Hoods inside, and Storm need little reminder of his capabilities, having faced him in each of his last four Division 1 spells, for both Hoods and Derby Trailblazers.

Matching up with Guddemi for Storm, however, will be in-form man Brayden Inger, fresh from a team-of-the-week winning performance against COB Rockets last time out. Inger shot 77% from downtown on route to his 26 points, in a welcome return to form after his fast start to Storm life was halted with a string of less impressive performances where he struggled to affect the game and show his quality in higher stake matchups. The Hoods had their own inclusion in Rebound’s most recent NBL Team of the Week though, in American Landon Taliaferro who earned his selection with 26 personal points, slightly above his season average of 20.1. Completing the Nottingham roster packed full of talent is Johde Campbell who has had himself an eye-catching start to the season; notably second in league efficiency standings and leading the league in assists as well as steals. Campbell possesses an explosive turn of pace, used to hurry and panic his opponent on defence and can forcibly turn a game on its head on offence, with a powerful ability to break the lines and score well, in transition as well as conventional offence which partners with his masterful vision and creativity to prove a handful for opposite numbers.

Storm will look for an emphatic victory to confirm their Christmas gift of third spot in Division 1, with the chasing Reading Rockets having a game in hand, and will require a fast start as seen this previous Saturday to cement a foothold in the game, and allow for some festive fun in what is sure to be a Christmas cracker in Nottingham. The Hoods will have other ideas, as they look to excite their home crowd and build on what has been a solid start to their season, and head-to-head may be vital with the two sides destined to finish around each other later in the year.

Tickets are available through the link https://thehoods.sumupstore.com, with all under 12s going free! Come down and support the boys at the Nottingham Wildcats Arena, tip off is 7pm.

Storm return after Christmas with a crunch clash against table-topping Essex Rebels. Shake off the Christmas blues and get yourself down to the StormDome, tickets via www.stormbasketball.net.

Written by Callum Humphrey

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