He’s one of the most highly-regarded young coaches in British
Basketball and, after impressing in his time with the Manchester Giants previously,
Lloyd Gardner now has an opportunity to help rejuvenate another sleeping giant
of the BBL as he takes to the hot seat for the Surrey Scorchers.
The Scorchers have won everything during their time in the
BBL, but haven’t reached the post-season for five years, so Gardner has a task
on his hands to bring the side back to its former glories, and it is one he is
very excited about as he seeks to eek every last drop of potential out of an
exciting and versatile roster that he has assembled.
“I’m delighted to make the move here. I think there are a
lot of similarities between Surrey now and Manchester last year when I arrived
there, unfortunately underperforming in recent years but with a lot of
potential to unleash in the franchise.
“I’ve been really pleased with what I’ve seen here over the
last few weeks and I think with everything the club has around it, we’re on a
really good footing to grow and develop this club in an exciting way.
“I don’t think I can say what the end-goal for this season is yet, to be honest, because I’m quite a process-driven person and that process will dictate where we can go with this team at this time. We’ve put together a roster we believe can be competitive in this league, but every other team will feel the same way at this exact moment, so hopefully we can deliver the results we need.”
“Our first ambition is to be competitive in every game.”
Whilst Gardner is reluctant to look too far into the future,
he does admit there is a real opportunity for the Scorchers to achieve excellence
in a number of areas if they can get certain things right on and off the hardwood.
One of those in particular is youth development – an area
that Gardner has a strong passion for with a proven track record in developing
elite talent – and he discussed the opportunities that could await Surrey in
that regard, as well as the hopes the team have of ending their post-season drought.
“Our most pressing need is to be more competitive on the
floor, but this is a franchise that has had success in the past and we need to
get back to doing that more regularly. There are so many opportunities for us to
develop young players to an elite level, which I’m really passionate about, so
there is a lot to be excited about.
“We have to prove to people that Surrey is an organisation
worthy of people investing their time in, and we do that by proving we can be
competitive on the floor and that we can develop talent. If we can get a
pathway in place to bring those players through then we’re on to a winning
formula as there is so much talent in this area that we can help nurture.
“We’re trying not to put a goal on things right now. Our first ambition is to be competitive in every game and getting that process of improvement right, which will lead to wins and then potentially the playoffs. There are only 10 teams in the league so it isn’t out of the question to go from 10th to eighth, but we know we’ve got work to do before we can think about that.”
“I want to give players the freedom to make their own
As a coach that has been lauded by some of the biggest names
in the British game past and present, most notably Great Britain Men’s captain
Dan Clark who credited Gardner as being the primary reason for Clark arriving
in the BBL with Manchester last year, Surrey’s new play-caller has quite the
We quizzed the man himself on what has made him so highly
regarded, and what qualities he believes he has that makes him a coach that
some of the biggest icons of our game have been itching to play for.
“Having good players usually helps! I had very good people
in the roster last year and that always helps you look good, but in all
seriousness I value relationships, I like to think I can find ways to connect
with my players on a good level, I’m organised and hard-working and I empower
“There are lots of great coaches in this league and I just
try and do the best job I can to prepare myself and my team to compete at the
highest level possible. I want to give players the freedom to make their own
decisions and play within a framework that lets them be successful.
“Our job as coaches is always to make sure our players
always have a clear message to follow and an understanding of what they’re
being asked to do and what we think they can achieve.”
The Surrey Scorchers welcome the BBL Trophy holders, Ben
Thomas’ Cheshire Phoenix, to Surrey Sports Park on Friday September 23, to open
the new campaign. Watch every game of the upcoming BBL season live and free on
the BBL YouTube channel.