In the build up to this weekends Varsity competition, writer, Gav Fielding, interviews SUBC’S president Stephen Gore, Men’s 1st captain David Lawrence, and Women’s 1st captain Virginia Soto Serrano to get their views on the biggest fixture for Team Southampton this year.
What’s it like being part of the Southampton University Basketball Club?
David: Being part of SUBC has been the highlight of my time at university. Not only do you get to meet extraordinary people from all backgrounds, but also your teammates become family from all the trust and support that you give and receive on court. We’ve also had some fantastic socials together in Southampton, Isle of Wight and Spain, making friends with all 100+ members in the basketball club.
Virginia: It is just the best experience I’ve ever had since I moved to UK, when I first joined 2 years ago I would have never imagined that this experience would bring me so many good moments and people.
Stephen: Easily the best part of university for me. Meeting and playing with like-minded people with a passion for the game has been brilliant. Outside of the club of 100 members itself, there is probably a similar amount of people I have met through the sport. Part of what makes me most proud of the club is its inclusivity and commitment to developing players of all abilities. Watching the club grow over the past 3 years and being a part of shaping this growth is great, and I am excited to see what we can achieve next season.
How have your respective seasons gone up till now? Better/worse, or what you expected?
David: It has been an excellent season for the Men’s 1st team this year. We’ve had an undefeated season in BUCS and we are getting promoted to Division 1. Next week we are playing the Western Cup Final in Cardiff. This weekend we finished our National League season with a win over Reading Rockets. Overall we won 5 games out of 12 and finished in 5th place, the best result SUBC has ever had in National League. With only 3 players graduating, next year is shaping to be very successful.
Virginia: This season has been really good, although last week, we lost 1st position of the league due to two losses in the last two games. Mainly due to placements and lots of personal things going on in the lives of our players.
Stephen: The 3rd team has met our expectations for their first year in the league. Their season hasn’t been incredible and they are hoping for a mid table finish, but the rate of improvement among the team of mostly freshers under first year coach Jake’s training has been impressive, including beating our own 2nd team 41-26! We are hoping for a more successful season next year once all of the players have more experience.
How did past Varsity’s make you feel? Any memories? What have Portsmouth been like to play against before?
Virginia: This is going to be my third Varsity and as every single year I am really excited about it. We won both games against Portsmouth in our last varsity but the level of competition against them is always something that you need to bare in mind. I guess the best memory of Varsity was when our boys’ team won in the last second with a half-court shot.
David: This is will be my 2nd Varsity in 3 years. In my first year, I was playing in the very exciting and competitive home game in which we won with a last second half-court shot. It was an amazing experience to be part of and to share with my teammates and all the people cheering us on.
Both teams won back in 2014 when the Men’s team famously beat Portsmouth in the dying seconds with a buzzer beater, How did last year go?
Virginia: Girls won again! We were really motivated and the fact that lots of our girls were leaving last year made us fight to win again.
Stephen: Varsity 2015 was my highlight of university so far. All 3 teams competing won their matches, with huge support from the rest of the club. At one point a Portsmouth player noted how we had a bigger crowd despite being the away team. Our Women’s team smashed Portsmouth, scoring around 70 points more than the home team. The men’s game was close, as always, ending 44-42 in Southampton’s favour despite Portsmouth attempting to recreate the infamous buzzer beater from the previous year. That day and the party at Oceana afterwards was an unforgettable experience.
What sort of Varsity preparations, if any, has been or will be underway?
David: We continue training our hardest as per normal twice a week. The 2 guys from the 2nd team who will be joining us have also joined our trainings and games. As a matter of fact, Laith was a key player in the cup semi-final game last week.
Virginia: There is no specific training going on, just the normal training sessions and explaining the new members of the team what the Varsity spirit looks like.
Stephen : In terms of training, we hope that the teams will be prepared with their regular season plays. The coaches haven’t gone easy on the players in terms of fitness, and hopefully this will show in the games.
This year there will be more basketball with a second men’s team competing in the afternoon. Do you think this is because there is more interest in the sport at university level and in general?
David: Basketball is definitely growing in popularity everywhere. This has made the club grow in players and supporters with a brand new Men’s 3rd team and the ever-growing Development Squad.
Virginia: Probably, people at uni need a breath from exams, assignments and lectures and… what could be better than playing basketball?
Stephen: There is definitely more interest in the sport across the country, with it being the sport that most 13+ year olds identify as playing regularly. This is also reflected in our club, which has roughly doubled in size in the last 3 or 4 years. The committee has done a great job of facilitating this increase in interest, and it has allowed us a much larger presence within the university and I feel we will only see this trend continuing.
What do you believe will be the key to success this year?
David: Communication and support on court and a very loud crowd!
Virginia: Winning again this year will be the best with a hat trick.
Stephen: The plan is winning. If we don’t win it’s because we didn’t stick the plan
What other sports will you be keeping an eye on?
Virginia: As much as I can.
Will Southampton win Varsity?
David: Hell Yeah!!
Stephen: There’s no other outcome!
Virginia: Of course! No doubt!!