|League||British Basketball League|
|Arena||University of Worcester Arena
|Team colours||Navy Blue and Orange
|Head coach||Paul James|
|Ownership||The University of Worcester|
Worcester Wolves is a basketball team from the city of Worcester which competes in the British Basketball League. From the start of the 2013–14 season they played their home games at the newly constructed 2,000-seat capacity Worcester Arena, moving away from their previous home at the University of Worcester, where they had previously been based since the team's establishment in 2000.
- 1 Franchise history
- 2 Home arenas
- 3 Season-by-season records
- 4 Trophies
- 5 Players
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 External links
New arena, new franchise
The historic city of Worcester has, until recent years, not had much of a basketball history. Worcester City Chiefs were an active lower league club during the mid-1990s before moving to Solihull in 1996, leaving the city without a major basketball club. This changed in May 2000 when Roger Clarke and Mick Donovan announced the formation of the Wolves franchise to play at the University of Worcester's brand new £2.5 million 'state of the art' Sports Hall.
Starting low, aiming high
In their first season of action (2000–01) in National Basketball League Division 3 the Wolves finished second in the 12 team league with an 18–3 record. Local rivals Bristol Bombers pipped them to the title, however luck would soon swing their way the following season.
Initially placed in the regionalised NBL Division 2 in the "clean sheet reorganisation" of 2001, the Wolves played only the first game of the season in that division before being elevated (ahead of Bristol) into NBL Division 1 when Doncaster withdrew at the start of the season.
University College Worcester Basketball Scholarships became available in September 2002 for talented players to study and play at the same time, and the club attracted a wealth of new talent including Ty Shaw (Idaho), Keith Jarrett and Rikki Prince (Both from Birmingham Bullets) that became the foundations of a strong first team.
The excellent facilities and organisation which earned them the promotion continued to stand them in good stead, and over the years they became firmly established in what has now been renamed EBL Division 2, and won promotion to EBL Division 1 following an excellent campaign in 2003–04. Despite finishing in second place, behind London Capital, they managed to straighten the record by beating them in the Playoff final at the National Indoor Arena, winning 95–87. The victory capped off an excellent season that saw the Wolves also lift the Patron's Cup, following a 111–100 win against Hackney White Heat in the final, which was played in front of a raucous and passionate home crowd at the University of Worcester.
Worcester had a reasonably successful debut season (2004–05) in EBL Division 1, finishing above fellow promotion winners London in 4th place with 13–9 record, which earned them a place in the post season playoffs. They built on their successes for the second season and finished 2005–06 in 4th place with a 17–9 record in the expanded Division 1. That season also saw the Wolves claim their biggest success to date, winning the National Trophy at the SkyDome Arena in Coventry, beating holders Sheffield Arrows 97–82 in the final.
Mixing with the elite
At the end of the 2005–06 season, the British Basketball League, the country's elite league was, not for the first time, suffering a membership crisis with three franchises, Birmingham Bullets, Brighton Bears and London Towers withdrawing from the league set-up. Although the Wolves management have claimed it was always their intention to move into the BBL, the possibility of it happening so quickly seemed near impossible. However, with the lack of a West Midlands-based franchise in the league, the BBL approached the Wolves and elected them into the league, along with London United.
With an influx of new players, including former Plymouth Raider Solomon Sheard, Caja Rioja's Sergio Rodriguez and James Noel of the Masters College all signing up for the new-look team, expectations of upsetting the big boys was high, but the fairy tale beginning never materialized. The Wolves opened the season with a 77–82 loss at home to Plymouth on 30 September, 2006, and followed that with 21-point loss away to Milton Keynes Lions (74–96). It was a case of third time lucky as, on October 7, in front of a packed crowd at the "Wolves' Lair", Worcester edged past the Chester Jets with an 82–79 victory and Andy Harper posting 28 points for the home side.
However the Wolves struggled and soon fell behind the pack, spending most of the season at the foot of the table. The highlight of the season for the Midlands club came on January 20, 2007, when second-place Sheffield Sharks were the visitors to the Wolves' Lair. The home side caused, without doubt, the biggest shock of the season by defeating the title-challengers 70–65, a result that would ultimately hand the Championship to Guildford. Despite this moral boosting win, Worcester continued to flounder and ended the season in tenth and last place with just four league wins to their name, eventually forcing head coach Josh Cooprider to resign after a 4–36 Champaign (4–41 overall).
On July 15, Wolves announced that former Birmingham Bullets head coach Skouson Harker would lead the team into the 2007–08 season. Worcester had a record of 14–19, and 20–20 overall qualifying for the playoffs. They lost to Newcastle Eagles in the first round. Players James Life and Anthony Paez were the BBL's two leading scorers, Paez leading the league with 24.5 points per game. Centre Shaun Durant led the league in rebounds with 11.2 per game. Wolves also reached the semi-finals of the BBL Trophy in Sheffield. Anthony Paez finished second in MVP voting in the BBL. Point Guard Chuck Evans recorded back to back triple doubles earlier in the season.
The 2008–09 season wouldn’t be quite as successful as the previous, and started off with a dismal run of defeats including a 135–103 blowout away to Cheshire Jets on the opening weekend of the campaign, as Wolves waited for their point guard, Will Funn and other import to be cleared to play. In fact, it wasn’t until Wolves’ fifth game of the season, at Everton Tigers, that the first victory came, the result was an impressive 101–106 win against a team who had previously gone undefeated. Anthony Paez posted an incredible 31 points for Wolves in that game.
The team saw first round exits in both the Trophy and the BBL Cup and also missed out on the post-season Play-offs, finishing in 10th place with an 14–24 overall record, (11–22 BBL Championship) down slightly from the previous season. At one point the club was 9–12 after a three-game winning streak only to lose starting import point guard for the season. Following the end of the campaign the club announced on May 19, 2009, that player/coach Harker would be replaced by former Wolves star Chuck Evans as the team’s coach for the upcoming season, with Harker continuing as a player only.
After failing to agree to his higher wage demands, franchise star Paez left the Wolves for pastures new during the close season. Days later, Wolves announced their first signing of the season, with US guard Chey Christie joining the roster after a spell in Sweden. He was later joined by British Virgin Islands international Randy George, BBL veteran Anthony Martin, and the return of Harry Disy, after his move to France broke down.
Their season didn't start off well, with an opening-day 94–81 defeat away to Milton Keynes. Following a 96–83 loss at Cheshire Jets, the team’s third defeat in three games, changes were made including the departure of new recruit Anthony Martin. Wolves’ first league win came two weeks later in a 98–80 demolition of London Capital at home, and with the signing of Martin’s replacement Nerijus Karlikanovas coming in, things were starting to look up with wins over Leicester and Milton Keynes.
However, the franchise was thrown into turmoil when, on November 27, it was announced that six players were having their contracts terminated by the club following an unauthorised strike over racially orientated comments made by Head Coach Chuck Evans during a video analysis session. This sent the basketball community of Worcester into an uproar; the story receiving more comments than any other Worcester News story in 2009. Coach Evans ultimately handed in his resignation. Although their names were first kept confidential, the players were later identified as Randy George, Chey Christie, and Lithuanians Evaldas Zabas, Vidmantas Uzkuraitis and Nerijus Karlikanovas, with former player/coach Skouson Harker facing disciplinary action that ultimately led to his departure from the club. Harker's father wrote this letter of support for his son to the Worcester News. Due to the depletion of the roster, a weakened team including several second-team promotees lost heavily 111–59 away to Glasgow Rocks two days later. On December 1, the BBL announced in a statement on its website that it had agreed to the postponement of Wolves’ next five games until later dates, plus in accordance with the league’s rules, the franchise had been fined an undisclosed amount. The following week the club announced the appointment of former Guildford, Thames Valley Tigers and England national team coach Paul James as Chuck Evans' successor.
|2001–2002||NBL 1||III||9th||22||7||15||14||0.318||Did Not Qualify||—||—|
|2002–2003||NBL 1||III||7th||16||6||10||12||0.375||—||Quarter-final (NT)||—|
|2003–2004||EBL 2||III||2nd||20||18||2||36||0.900||Winners||Winners (PC)||—|
|2005–2006||EBL 1||II||4th||26||17||9||34||0.654||Lost in Quarter-final to Manchester Magic, 80–76||Winners (NT)||Quarter-final (NC)|
|2006–2007||BBL||I||10th||36||4||32||8||0.111||Did Not Qualify||1st Round (BT)||1st Round (BC)|
|2007–2008||BBL||I||8th||33||14||19||28||0.424||Lost in Quarter-final to Newcastle Eagles, 105–96||1st Round (BT)||Semi-Final (BC)|
|2008–2009||BBL||I||10th||33||11||22||22||0.333||Did Not Qualify||1st Round (BT)||1st Round (BC)|
|2009–2010||BBL||I||9th||36||18||18||36||0.500||Did Not Qualify||Quarter-final (BT)||Quarter-final (BC)|
|2010–2011||BBL||I||9th||33||15||18||30||0.455||Did Not Qualify||1st Round (BT)||Quarter-final (BC)|
|2011–2012||BBL||I||3rd||30||22||8||44||0.733||Lost in Quarter-final to Cheshire Jets, 167–154 (agg)||1st Round (BT)||Semi-final (BC)|
|2012–2013||BBL||I||5th||33||20||13||40||0.606||Lost in Quarter-final to Surrey Heat, 154–151 (agg)||Semi-final (BT)||Quarter-final (BC)|
|2013–2014||BBL||I||3rd||33||27||6||54||0.818||Winners in Final against Newcastle Eagles, 90–78||Winners (BT)||Quarter-final (BC)|
|2014–2015||BBL||I||3rd||36||28||8||56||0.777||—||— (BT)||— (BC)|
- In 2001 the NBL was restructured so Division One became the third tier replacing Division Two.
- In 2003 the NBL was replaced by the EBL which reverted Division Two back to the third tier.
- NBL Division Three Runners Up: 2000–01 1
- EBL Division Two Runners Up: 2003–04 1
- NBL Division Two Play Off Winners: 2003–04 1
- National Trophy Winners: 2005–06 1
- Patron's Cup Winners: 2003–04 1
Note: Flags indicate national team eligibility at FIBA sanctioned events. Players may hold other non-FIBA nationality not displayed.
Worcester Wolves roster
Notable former players
- Alex Owumi
- Will Creekmore
- Samuel Cricelli
- Chuck Evans
- Tommy Freeman
- Randy George
- Richie Gordon
- Markus Hallgrimson
- Skouson Harker
- Arnas Kazlauskas
- Barry Lamble
- James Life
- Anthony Martin
- Artūras Masiulis
- James Noel
- Andreas Schreiber
- Anthony Paez
- Zaire Taylor
- Stuart Thomson
- Evaldas Zabas
- Aleksas Zimnickas
- Harry Disy
- David Watts
- Callum Jones
- Tom Guest (2006). "Wolves win place in British League". Worcester News. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
- Tom Guest (2009). "Fun Leaves Wolves". Worcester News. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
- BBC Sport (2009-08-03). "Harker Happy to be Wolves Player". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- Tom Guest (2009). "Evans replaces Harker as Wolves head coach". Worcester News. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- Tom Guest (2009). "Wolves hit as Paez leaves club". Worcester News. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Wolves move in to snap up American guard". Worcester News. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Wolves sign George". Worcester News. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Wolves sign point guard Martin". Worcester News. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Disy signs as Wolves step up new season challenge". Worcester News. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- Steve Carley (2009). "Wolves axe for Martin". Worcester News. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- Michael Reeves (2009). "Wolves hope to play new signing". Worcester News. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- Michael Reeves (2009). "Wolves Torn Apart in Racism Row". Worcester News. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- Michael Reeves (2009). "Pupils Ask for Sporting Gesture to Save Stars". Worcester News. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- Michael Reeves (2009). "Wolves in turmoil: Six sacked and Evans quits". Worcester News. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- Michael Reeves (2009). "Harker facing Wolves disciplinary meeting". Worcester News. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
- Worcester News (2009). "Proud Father: Shame on Worcester Wolves". Worcester News. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- "Wolves show spirit despite big defeat". Worcester News. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "BBL Statement – Worcester Wolves". British Basketball League. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- Michael Reeves (2009). "Wolves snap up former England coach". Worcester Wolves. Retrieved 2009-12-07.