The first Molten BBL Coach of the Month of the 2022-23 season has
been awarded to the man that has led his star-studded team to the top of the
Championship standings, with London Lions’ play-caller Ryan Schmidt picking up
this term’s inaugural award.
Schmidt wins the Molten BBL Coach of the Month award for September
and October, with Lions currently atop the BBL Championship table after a 7-1
start in what is a highly competitive season already as every other team has at
least three losses.
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.
The hard work started in the off-season with the recruitment of
perhaps the most impressive array of talent the BBL has seen, including former
NBA players Sam Dekker – the league’s current leading scorer – and Kosta
Koufos; alongside Great Britain internationals Ovie Soko, Luke Nelson, Devon
van Oostrum, Mo Soluade, Kareem Queeley and Josh Sharma; and record-holders on
the continent such as Vojtech Hruban.
The depth of that squad has already shown as no player averages
more than 26 minutes per game and six are scoring in double-figures, with an
average of 29 points off the bench pacing the BBL by some distance. Coach
Schmidt’s team are also bought in at the defensive end, as currently the
league’s second-best defence conceding just 76 points per game, making it
incredibly difficult for opponents by giving up the fewest points in the paint.
Lions made a statement from the outset opening with a win over
last year’s second-placed team B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, followed swiftly by
an 89-78 defeat of reigning treble champions Leicester Riders at the Copper Box
Arena, in a game where they got out to a fast start as Koufos scored eight
points in a 16-4 opening.
Since, they have made a habit of coming up big when it matters
most by using strong second half performances to secure victories in tight
games, including a 25-12 fourth quarter to beat Cheshire Phoenix live on Sky
Sports, and a 27-16 fourth with a 16-5 finish to overturn a late deficit
against Caledonia Gladiators.
Following that great start, Coach Schmidt and the Lions face a
tough opening to November as they look to bounce back from their first domestic
defeat with a trip to Bristol Flyers, before the likes of Nelson, Queeley,
Sharma, Soluade, Soko and van Oostrum potentially head off to represent Great
Britain in the international window.