INTERVIEW: General manager Sean Skelly speaks on the season so far

Hello Rocks fans.

Since joining in September It’s been a whirlwind start to say the least!

I believe this is the first time I’ve addressed everyone so I’d like to start out by thanking each and every one of the fans, staff and sponsors for the fantastic welcome I’ve had over the last few months. It’s very easy to see why Rocks were so successful last season. Not just on the court with the leaders we have but off the court in the way the club has been run and the people we have involved.

Some of the situations we have managed to overcome this season have at times felt insurmountable and it has been a new challenge every week. I’m not looking to make any excuses or be too downbeat with this post, but I do think it’s important to give a non-exhaustive indication of some of the issues we have faced this season.

We have had very limited and intermittent access to the arena, players and the office. Looking at the table, we are of course not where we would like to be. I am however sure that we’re going to see results that match some of our performances soon. We are a young and passionate team who truly believe we are better than the league currently reflects.

The team was recruited this season with survival in mind. No assurances on funding had been given at that point. We did not feel it was appropriate to recruit players from far abroad during this time and opted to pick up younger and more local players who could return home quickly and easily if there were any issues. As the situation developed both league and country-wide we felt we were in a position to be able to extend our roster to bring in two Americans in Christian Keeling and Ronald Delph who I feel will be vital to our success this season. Given the circumstances, we believe that our cautious approach was the correct way to proceed.

We are still the only team in the BBL that has to self-isolate players when they arrive in the country which has in itself affected our pre-season and our ability to bring in players quickly during the season. Unforeseen delays of which the club was not at fault for with Ronald Delph’s registration further adding to our frustrations. We are more than happy to adhere to the understandably heavy Covid restrictions in Scotland however it has caused us many issues as you can imagine, including canceling our only planned pre-season game due to paperwork.

We have some of the longest journeys in the BBL for away trips. Unfortunately with the current travel restrictions and guidance (not to use public transport) our usual preferred route of flying to many away games has been all but removed. This means we’re having to take the coach to every away match with all the obvious issues attached in terms of what is often referred to as bus legs after a long journey. Credit to the team for achieving a win in Plymouth with this in mind after also having played the night before.

We are currently with no gym access. This has been the situation since lockdown restarted and for large parts of the season and is obviously far from ideal for a professional sporting organisation. During the previous lockdown, we completed the Covid-secure training application (which is a lengthy process) to have access to another venue that was not originally closed, however with every region now being in tier 4 this is also now shut. We’re working on and close to finding another solution.

One thing we can be immensely proud of is the success and adherence to our Covid procedures which are put in place by our Covid officer Mitchell Simpson and enforced by the team. We realise the privileged position we are in to be playing basketball right now. We do not take this for granted. We are strict on our protocols, we have purchased tests and have the ability to test any player or staff member who has symptoms. Fortunately, we have not had a single situation where this has been required and long may this continue.

I am excited to see our full-strength team on the court. Between Ronald Delph’s first game and Marc Kwedi returning to full fitness following his injury at the weekend I still feel we’ve to fully see what this team can do at its peak which is, of course, an encouraging prospect.

On Gareth Murray, I have found him to be a talented young coach. The passion he has for the game and the team is already well documented. I honestly don’t think there is anyone better suited to guide us through this tough period than him and can understand entirely the connection he has with the fanbase.

For this season, survival is still a success. With the backing of Basketball Scotland, Sport Scotland and the Scottish Government it looks like we will be able to complete and compete this year. We are taking the time we have at the moment to plan long-term with the club and think about where we want to be in 3-5 years time and there is much to anticipate.

Thank you for your support, for purchasing the streams, merchandise and jerseys. The financial support we have received from the fans has also been vital and we understand it comes at a time many are struggling. Match nights are not the same without you all and we can’t wait to have you back and bringing the noise.