London Lions’ Head Coach Ryan Schmidt has won the Molten Ed Percival BBL Coach of the Year award for 2022-23 – following a vote by BBL club captains and administrators – after securing a BBL Championship and Cup double.
With a 32-4 record in league play, a win percentage of 89%, Lions won only their second ever BBL Championship title with six games to spare – the earliest point in a season in BBL history – and raised the BBL Cup in January for the third time in their history, having last won both in 2018-19.
Fresh from a title-winning campaign with the Hamilton Honey Badgers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) and following four seasons as an Assistant Coach with the Toronto Raptors’ NBA G-League affiliate Raptors 905, Schmidt took the reins at the Copper Box Arena in the summer as Lions embarked on a daunting EuroCup campaign alongside their domestic duties.
He quickly got to work and assembled perhaps the most formidable roster seen in BBL history, including ex-NBA talent such as Sam Dekker, Kosta Koufos and Miye Oni – who between them had played over 1,000 NBA games – alongside the all-time points leader in the Basketball Champions League, Vojtech Hruban, and elite British talent such as Luke Nelson, Mo Soluade, Tarik Phillip and Josh Sharma, all playing in the BBL for the first time in their careers.
The title was all but secured with a sensational run of 18 straight BBL Championship wins over the turn of the year, from the 1st December all the way to mid-March, as Coach Schmidt picked up three Molten Kevin Cadle Coach of the Month awards along the way, for September/October after a fast start set the tone, followed by December and January.
Significantly for their title charge, Lions went 4-0 in the BBL Championship against Leicester Riders – the previous season’s treble winners and defending league champions – stamping their authority on that contest very early on with an 89-78 win at the Copper Box Arena in the second game of the season, while edging Riders out by one shot, 83-81, in the most recent meeting at the same venue in early April.
The biggest single day of the campaign came in January when Lions beat Leicester Riders to win the BBL Cup for a third time in their history – the piece of silverware they have won the most – and first time in four years, never trailing throughout but needing a pair of fourth quarter timeouts to steady the ship in a hotly-contested tie in front of a sell-out crowd at Utilita Arena, Birmingham, and live on Sky Sports.
For the season, Schmidt’s Lions boast by far the league’s number one defence as the only team to hold opponents below 40% shooting from the field, and that has been a consistent hallmark throughout the campaign and regardless of personnel as a stamp of Schmidt’s philosophy.
They are also the number two offence in the BBL overall, and further improved in more recent weeks, with the best interior scoring percentage of 56% courtesy of their array of big man talent, and with the most three-point makes per game (9.3) of any team in the league led by Aaron Best and Luke Nelson, both around or above the 40% mark.
Alongside all of this domestic success, Coach Schmidt’s team have proudly flown the flag for the BBL on the continent, becoming the first British team in history to qualify for the EuroCup Play-offs.
A full record of votes can be found below:
|Bristol Club Administrator Vote||Ryan Schmidt|
|Bristol Captain Vote||Ryan Schmidt|
|Caledonia Club Administrator Vote||Ryan Schmidt|
|Caledonia Captain Vote||Ryan Schmidt|
|Cheshire Club Administrator Vote||Ryan Schmidt|
|Cheshire Captain Vote||Andreas Kapoulas|
|Leicester Club Administrator Vote||Ben Thomas|
|Leicester Captain Vote||Ryan Schmidt|
|London Club Administrator Vote||Gareth Murray|
|London Captain Vote||Andreas Kapoulas|
|Manchester Club Administrator Vote||Andreas Kapoulas|
|Manchester Captain Vote||Gareth Murray|
|Newcastle Club Administrator Vote||Andreas Kapoulas|
|Newcastle Captain Vote||Ryan Schmidt|
|Plymouth Club Administrator Vote||Gareth Murray|
|Plymouth Captain Vote||Andreas Kapoulas|
|Sheffield Club Administrator Vote||Ryan Schmidt|
|Sheffield Captain Vote||Ryan Schmidt|
|Surrey Club Administrator Vote||Andreas Kapoulas|
|Surrey Captain Vote||Ryan Schmidt|