Basketball: Burden on White to rescue Riders

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The Independent Online
TIM DARLING, Leicester City Riders' despairing coach, hopes that his new signing, Michael White, will lift some of the pressure from his local boys as the club waits for their first win in either the Northern Conference of the Championship or the League Trophy.

But in spite of the 22-year-old's impressive credentials as a playmaker with the University of Mississippi, it may be unrealistic to expect him to turn around Leicester's season on his first assignment out of college, beginning with tonight's outing against, Thames Valley Tigers.

Darling, a Canadian, hopes he can do that, particularly for the sake of Riders' English players Karl Brown, Drew Barrett and Hilroy Thomas. "They are all local boys," Darling said, "and it's even harder for them to go out in front of the fans and lose game after game."

Brown, a former England international guard, has taken a battering running the point for nearly 40 minutes a game and, with the spring worn out of his legs, has lost his once deadly jump shot.

Darling said: "Now we can get Karl some rest and periodically push him into his more natural off-guard position."

The Riders' run of 12 defeats is nothing compared to Darling's victory drought. Before joining Riders in September, his previous job was coaching Hong Kong up until December last year.

Apart from a National Cup win over non-league Plymouth, he has yet to win a game in 1999. "No disrespect to Plymouth, but I don't think I can count that game," Darling added.

White, a four-year starter at "Ole Miss", may get a gentler introduction on his debut against the Tigers in a "dead" Trophy group game tonight. Tigers have already qualified for the last eight while Riders, of course, did not.

UNI-BALL TROPHY Quarter-finals (Thunderdome, Derby, 27 Dec): London Leopards v Thames Valley; London Towers v Derby; Manchester v Chester; Sheffield v Newcastle.

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