A soaked Mark Clark couldn’t hide his pride after his team completed a historic season with a 70-45 victory against Sevenoaks Suns at the O2, on Sunday.
Watched by a record 10,926 crowd, Clark’s team collected their fourth piece of silverware and sealed a perfect 34-0 season.
“It’s the end of a really long season, having started at the beginning of August”
said Clark after he arrived at the post-game press conference wet after being doused by his celebrating players.
“Personally there’s a great deal of satisfaction that you set your stool out and recruit a team that can be successful not only in the WBBL but to give a team from the WBBL to be successful in Europe
”So in that perspective obviously there’s a lot of satisfaction. Retaining players like Kennedy is key. Our league has to retain quality players, making a programme that Kennedy Leonard was to play, that Chantel Charles wants to come back and play in, was a big deal. We set out our stool that we were going to build the British depth in the group, that means a lot when you achieve your objectives and goals is a really big plus.
With tip-off delayed for 30 minutes due to issues at the O2, Clark admitted that his side found things tough going in the early stages of the game
"The start of the game was difficult with the delay both teams were struggling, but keeping a team to 45 points makes life easier in terms of winning"
“We struggled a bit offensively but our defence was great. Basketball’s about rhythm and if you can establish your rhythm, for whatever reason their defence was good in the first half and we weren’t able to establish ourselves and it wasn’t until Shanice [Beckford-Norton] came in and made some shots that we relaxed. We spent a lot of time without the basketball because our defence meant they ran down the shot clock but were given open shots that we’d normally make.”
Jo Leedham was named WBBL Most Valuable Player on Saturday and Clark puts much of his side’s success down to the influence of the GB international and former WNBA player saying
“Jo is the bar setter in terms of what’s acceptable and unacceptable for our team”
“At the start of the year it was mainly Jo trying to drive things with Azania [Stewart] but the other thing that really sets us apart is that everyone holds everyone to account. The word accountability is one of the most used words in our locker room. People hold Kennedy to account and Kennedy responds in a positive way and holds everyone else to account. The greatest thing is I’ve been on teams where that challenge is seen as a negative, but all it does with us is drives them on and Jo is the major reason.”