Basketball: Storm blown off course

Seven Americans and five defeats in a row add up to a "crisis of confidence" for Derby Storm and their coach, Jeff Jones, whose team lost 96-73 at home to Manchester Giants in the Budweiser League on Saturday night.

"Good players have gone into their shells," Jones said. Derby capitalised fully on the league's new allowance of five Americans per team, but after ditching John James in the pre-season and last week sacking Rod Gregoire for disciplinary reasons, the Storm have blown seriously off course.

"Their confidence is shot to pieces," Jones said. "I'm used to dealing with this stuff with English kids, but these are experienced players and it's tough getting inside their heads to find out what's going on."

Steve McGlothin, the first replacement, and Mickey Frazier, who arrived last week, both fouled out against Giants. "That turned an eight-point game into a rout," Jones added. Although Giants were never threatened after opening a 31-19 lead.

Jones expected help from the England international Kurt Samuels, who returned from an abortive spell in Italy last week and signed a weekly contract. "On Wednesday he got an offer from a Portuguese club and he was gone," added Jones. Mark Robinson, with 23 points, led the scorers for Giants.