Updated: Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 @ 8:07am

Play for the crowd, urges Manchester Giants rookie coach Byrne ahead of tough Leicester opener

Play for the crowd, urges Manchester Giants rookie coach Byrne ahead of tough Leicester opener

| By Nathan Roberts

Manchester Giants’ rookie coach Danny Byrne says chemistry can play a big role in helping the team win back the crowd and recover from a ‘terrible’ 2016-17 season.

Byrne, who assisted former head coach Yorick Williams last term, has been busy this summer signing four new recruits.

He hopes they will help right the wrongs of last season where the Giants finished bottom of the BBL with a 5-28 record.

“My hopes are to be a lot more competitive. There’s no disguise from the fact that the top half of league will be expected to beat us,” Byrne told MM.

“But as long as we compete it will be a very big improvement on last year.”

The 41-year-old is not banking on a miraculous revival, though. Rather, he has worked tirelessly during the summer to eke out last season’s flaws.

“We have put the emphasis on new defensive systems and sticking together, improving the team mentally.

“Chemistry has been the biggest part of our pre-season.”

In an unprecedented move by the Giants, two of the new signings come from America –  David Kadiri and Austin Rettig – and Byrne is all too aware of the pitfalls that come with failed recruitment strategy.

“We wanted a pair who were going to fit the system I wanted to play,” he said.

“So we went through their stats analytically and considered what they could do productively per minute as opposed to turnovers to assists which doesn’t give you a great picture.

“As a rookie coach and with it being the first time the Giants have signed two Americans, I felt it was something I had to get right.

“Hopefully, it will pay off but we’re going to find out this weekend!” he added emphatically.

Throughout the interview though, the Plymouth-born coach appeared enthused about his side's chances this season despite a daunting opening fixture home against the 2016-17 champions, Leicester Riders.

However, Byrne, who led the Giants’ second team to the NBL4 title last season, knows that it is not games like this weekend’s which will define the Giants’ campaign.

“Our long term plan for the season is to target certain games and certain teams which are pinpointed as ‘must wins’ and then there will be some teams where we will want to pinch a sneaky surprise win.”

Leicester will be considered in that category whereby a win would provide a welcome bonus but Byrne believes a strong home crowd could really aid the Giants’ fortunes.

“We were terrible last year but as soon as you have a good spell and the fans see you fighting for each other, they’re on your side.

“For the Newcastle match at Christmas there were 1,200 there and we nearly caused that upset but the noise was deafening and they pushed us on to achieve what we did in that game.”

The Giants’ campaign opens begins Friday at 5pm at 5 Trafford Way, Stretford, Manchester, M178DD.

Tickets are available online and on the door. 

Image courtesy of Jack Hinds Photography, with thanks.