A COVENTRY UNIVERSITY student is hoping to be a part of the Great Britain Under 20 basketball team when they travel to Austria to compete in the 2010 European championships in July. Nineteen-year-old student of Mathematical Sciences, Stephen Danso was invited via email to attend two days worth of trials for UK based British basketball players in Manchester on the 22nd and 23rd December last year. Writes Adam Manning
Danso, who also plays for The University’s high flying basketball team and local EBL Division One club Coventry Crusaders, described the trials put on by British Basketball coaches Tim Lewis and Damian Jennings as “intense” yet “fundamental”.
“The trials were three one and a half hour sessions each day ” revealed Danso, who has been on top form for both of his clubs so far this season. Averaging 18 points per game for Crusaders and helping the university side to second place in the BUCS Midlands Division 1A following last year’s promotion.
The versatile guard also said that while he already knew what to expect at the trials, the nature of how the sessions were carried out was “demanding” compared to the two hour training sessions usually experienced at club level.
He said: “There were fundamentally orientated things such as passing skills, games where you’re not allowed to dribble and only pass, and ones where you have to get to a total of 21 passes before the other team.”
He added: “So a lot of passing drills and off ball movement, stuff showing what it’s going to be like in the European Championships. The intensity of the practice sessions wasn’t too tiring, but we were playing for a long time, so after a while it took its toll on the legs”.
Danso and the rest of the UK based players will now be eagerly preparing for the summer camps, which will consist of playing alongside the overseas British players in order for the coaches to select the best squad in time for the European Championships, which takes place between the 8th and 18th July.
The Great Britain Under 20s coach Tim Lewis was satisfied with the youngsters following the trials, saying: “”We improved our effort levels over the two days. Now the challenge for the players is to maintain the level that is required to be competitive internationally”
And Danso is under no illusions as to what he has to do to maintain, and even further his game performance to be on the plane to Austria this summer: “They gave us general feedback, telling us what we need to do to be able to make the squad” he said.
“You need to be in good shape, be in the weight room at least three times a week, because at that level most people are playing professionally. So they’re the sort of things I need to be doing if I’m to stand a chance of making the squad”.
Danso is in action for Coventry University against the Universities of East Anglia and Warwick over the next two weeks as they try to close the six point gap on BUCS Midlands Division 1A leaders Warwick for a play off spot with two games to go. If Coventry win in East Anglia and Warwick lose to Cambridge this Wednesday, then a tense finale for top spot could be set up at Coventry University’s Sport Centre on Wednesday 27th January at 4.00pm when Warwick come to town.
By Adam Manning