North Star coach Niall McDermott says that he’s hopeful that this year’s senior team can attain a top four finish in the Basketball Northern Ireland (BNI) Premier League.
McDermott, 27, has been with the club since its inception in 2002 and he says that despite losing their star player Chris Sumner last season he is confident that younger members of the squad will step up to the mark.
“Chris Sumner was an American studying in Derry and he was our best player both defensively and offensively,” explains Niall.
“Just before Chris left last year we were flying high in the league but when he left we lost some key games and we finished fifth in the league.
“That’s not to say that some of the young players displayed some great courage and talent and although we lost key games we lost them by the narrowest of margins.”
He continued: “I think last year was a real learning curve for the younger players in the team and I am confident that they benefited from the experience.”
The new BNI season commences towards the end October and already North Star have started to add new names to their squad.
“We have a Hungarian called Bencze Máté coming to play with us. Bencze is coming to live in Derry and is in his early twenties.
“He has played in the Division Two basketball league in Hungary so hopefully he’ll be a good addition to the squad.”
He added: “We also have a guy from Desertmartin called Patrick McGuigan coming to play too. I think he played for his university when he was studying in Scotland so things are looking good.”
Niall explained that he hopes to combine new talent with youth and experience and says that at the end of the season he would be delighted if the team were to find themselves in the top four of the BNI Premier League.
“There’s real talent in the team. We have a lot of young local talent like Kevin Stanley, Hugh Barber, Daryl Harkin and Paul McGuinness.
“If we can get the right mix then I’d be very hopeful of a top four finish.”
Although teams like Queen’s University Belfast and Star of the Sea have also strengthened their squads during the off-season Niall still believes that if North Star play to their full potential then they are capable of beating any team in the league.
“The 2011/12 season is going to be really tight and I have no doubt that there will be a few surprises but as long as we work hard and remain focused then anything’s possible.”
Although the Derry based basketball team are without a sponsor they have received two free kits from Intrepid Sports in America.
“That’s been a great help and we are always on the look out for support locally,” says Niall.
For further information on North Star or to get involved contact the team via Facebook or visit the website www.northstarbasketball.com