Fabulous Flournoy is all too aware of the frustrations of last season: second place in the league, runners-up in the play-offs and the same for the cup but for the Newcastle Eagles Head Coach, the frustration he has is not so much about being last seasons bridesmaid but more about the situations which tied his hands.
“In all honesty, it was probably more frustrating because of the injuries as well as the fact that I had pneumonia which plagued me all season,” explained Fab.
“The injuries amongst the players that we had: Joe (Chapman) ruptured his Achilles heel, Trey (Moore) breaking his foot… so to come up short last season was due to the fact we had picked up some injuries and also due to the fact we lost our key games and players at different points but we were still in it. So it wasn’t as frustrating as everyone makes it out.”
That frustration has since subsided with the start of the new season, a campaign which has seen the Eagles fly out of the blocks winning 10 of their first 11 games. The form of Flournoy’s team has been breathtaking so far but even more impressive than the performances of the team has been the return and play of one man, last seasons fallen star – Joe Chapman.
Returning to his 2010 scoring averages of approximately 20 points per game, Chapman has made a remarkable recovery from an injury which doctors said could have sidelined him for an entire season.
“From the injury he had up until now, it’s only been 9 months. He was supposed to lose the start of the season and possibly not be able to play and all those questions to where he’s at now, it’s a true testament to his will, his endurance, his commitment and his passion to the sport itself” Fab enthused.
With Chapman an obvious injury risk in the off-season and with former BBL MVP Jeremy Bell available, it seems surprising that the Eagles kept faith with their Chicago born guard.
“One of the reasons why we did decide to bring him (Chapman) back is his hunger for the game and wanting to come back with a point to prove, not necessarily to the league but for the simple fact that he was injured and he was kind of written-off. And he wanted to make sure that he came back and put things right, probably more for himself then anything else.”
And Flournoy is not overlooking the impact of Chapman’s desire on others, either:
“Having a guy like that with that type of motivation can only be positive when it comes in terms of showing the rest of the guys and in particular, younger players, what they should be doing and how they should be approaching a basketball game.
“When it’s all said and done, we’re all very fortunate and gifted that we’re doing something we love and we’re getting paid to do it. The reality of it is, especially after the season we had last year as individuals, its not promised. So you got to lay it all on the line because an injury or with something happening, it could all be taken away.
“He’s a testament to that with what he had to go through last season.”
Follow Keith on Twitter @keiththejourno