Back row (left to right): Will Zoppellini, Imran Shafiq, David Butterworth, Clayton Milner, Graham Hunter, Mark Steutel, Chris Sheldrick, Steve Chant
Front row: Anthony Rutter, Ryan Payne, Mark Jackson, Ollie Marsh, Marcus Ch'ng
A new coach, Steve Chant, and a clutch of new players formed the basis of the team that travelled to Worcester Wolves on September 17th, 2005 to play in the first of four National Trophy games. Three players from the successful Solent second team of the previous season had stepped up - Ryan Payne, Clayton Milner and Mike Peel. Chris Sheldrick had returned to the club along with David Butterworth. Mark Jackson and Ollie Marsh were the only two who had played in the corresponding fixture from the previous season. Marc Steutel (pronounced Stootel) and Will Zoppellini had come from the East Durham club to study at Southampton Solent University. Marcus Ch'ng had been recruited on video and statistical evidence from Australia. Solent could only score 45 points in the game, continuing Solent's poor National Trophy record as they lost 45 - 72 (Milner 17).
Another away game followed at Coventry in which Solent played much better but lost 91 - 100 (Jackson 20). The next day the team travelled again, this time to Eastside Eagles for a National Cup game which they won 83 - 55 (Milner 21). The team included Anthony Rutter for his first game.
It was back to National Trophy action for two home games next. A close defeat by Coventry Crusaders 69 - 75 (Butterworth 24) - Imran Shafiq's first game - was followed by a more convincing loss to Worcester 55 - 78 (Butterworth 31) with Solent finding it hard to score again. This left Solent bottom of its National Trophy Pool - and an unenviable record of only having won one of their last 22 National Trophy games.
The league Division One season started with an away visit to London Capitals. Marcus Ch'ng was out with injury, but the team pulled off a famous victory coming from behind in the last five minutes to win 75 - 69 (Butterworth 27).
More success - again without Ch'ng - followed the next day on a visit to Taunton Tigers for a National Cup match. This tricky fixture was won 95 - 79 (Butterworth 24, Marsh 23) by outscoring the home team 34 - 16 in the final quarter. Ollie Marsh was in good shooting form for this game.
Teesside Mohawks provided Solent with their third consecutive win 76 - 65 (Butterworth 25) and gave an opportunity for 6' 8" Paul Davis to play his first home game for the club. He was injured in that game and could not take part in the next day's cup quarter final at Essex and Herts Leopards. Solent had a fantastic first quarter and led 27 - 17 before losing momentum and the game 75 - 101. Essex went on to win the National cup beating Reading Rockets in the final.
By chance, Reading were Solent's next visitors. They were the first of four teams to play Solent having been unbeaten in the league. Reading won 107 - 80 (Payne 23).
Worcester at Worcester proved too strong again for Solent (93 - 76) in a game that marked Ch'ng's return.
London United were too strong for Solent at Fleming Park. The home team lost 71 - 121 (Butterworth 25).
Solent gave Worthing Thunder a fright after trailing by 27 points when they pulled level later in the game only to lose it in the last minute 82 - 88 (Jackson 24).
Coventry Crusaders won at Solent 84 - 88 (Butterworth 21) to make it a five game losing streak for Solent and leave them in ninth position in the league with nearly a third of the league season gone and just two wins to their credit.
The final home match of the year, against Manchester Magic, was yet another defeat for Solent 85 - 106 (Butterworth 25). It will be remembered for a fired-up display from Ollie Marsh who - at one point - scored seven consecutive points, including a free throw and a three pointer, after picking up a technical foul. Marsh's passion demonstrated the whole-hearted approach of all the team to the games they played.
David Butterworth continued to be Solent's main points scorer right up to the last away game of 2005. Solent went to high-riding Sheffield Arrows but could make little impression on a team boasting several ex-BBL players. The year ended with an 84 - 117 (Butterworth 33) defeat.
The new calendar year started with the heartening news that a sponsor in the form of Kuti Miah had come to the club's aid. With his help, the club had brought in 24-year-old, 6' 8" American player, John Smith. Problems with a Clearance Certificate meant that he could not play against Essex and Herts Leopards to whom Solent lost the first home game of the new year 72 - 94.
The next 'home' game was played at River Park, Winchester and proved a low point as Solent went down to basement club, Nottingham Knights 97 - 104 (Butterworth 28). Bizarre circumstances brought about by a malfunctioning scoreboard saw club owner, Bob Paulley, brought into action with a flipchart as a visible timing feature. Smith scored 20 points on his debut.
He was near that total again when Solent visited Kingston Wildcats. A close game was lost 87 - 91 (Butterworth 22) because of a poor first quarter performance that allowed the home team to build a 14 point lead.
Reading Rockets came as league leaders to Fleming Park and demonstrated the gulf between a higher and lower placed team with a ruthless display that saw them win 63 - 92. Leading scorer Butterworth - having passed the 400-point mark for the season - could make little impression in the game, picking up four early fouls and only scoring five points.
Height played a big factor in Solent's next defeat at Teesside Mohawks. 7' 6" Fingleton did a lot of early scoring for the home team and the Solent players were unable to raise their game at all, losing 70 - 106 (Smith 26).
Seven games faced Solent in the four February weekends. First up were PAWS London Capitals - or they should have been. Whilst the home team and crowd waited, various messages were received about the location and situation of the visiting team. Eventually they arrived, but too late to begin the game until after 9.00pm. This meant that Solent were awarded the win by default.
The next day found Solent in Brentwood to face Essex and Herts Leopards. A crushing 64 - 107 loss ensued (Smith 24). On the way home Solent suffered a similar fate to PAWS the previous evening, and spent part of it waiting for a puncture repair on the M25. All of this may have proved too much for Butterworth who signalled, through a telephone call to Steve Chant, his intention to quit for reasons of 'non-enjoyment'. Marc Steutel, by chance, also left the club in the week, but this was for personal reasons which necessitated a move to the north of England.
It was with some trepidation that the squad awaited their next visitors, league leading Worcester Wolves. Having kept in the game at 18 - 21, the game was lost as Worcester scored the next 26 points without reply. The eventual score was 77 - 103 (Smith 24) as Solent went down again.
Without the two starting five players who had left the club, Solent went - the next day - to face Kings Lynn Fury in a must-win bottom of the league struggle. And win Solent did thanks to a fine all-round performance in which Rutter excelled with 21 points. It was close throughout, but Solent held on 87 - 81 (Jackson 21).
Away to London United, the team came up against three-point accuracy which left them chasing the game. Milner along with Jackson top-scored with 22 points each in the 91 - 126 (Smith 21) defeat.
The following afternoon saw vociferous visiting Worthing Thunder fans enjoying a win (89 - 108) by their team against a tired Solent squad. Smith's 32 points was the highlight for the home supporters.
The busy month was ended with a visit to Coventry Crusaders to receive yet another masterclass in three point shooting by an opposing team. Solent could only manage 2 three-point successes in the final quarter against 14 by Coventry in the game. Solent were defeated on the road trip 61 - 86.
Just five matches remained for Solent and first up were first time visitors to Fleming Park, Kings Lynn Fury. Solent squandered a twelve point last quarter lead and when Milner missed a final free throw at the end of the game, overtime was needed with the scores at 84 all. Kings Lynn were stronger at the end and won 90 - 95 (Smith 31) although that meant Solent's earlier six point win at Kings Lynn would be important if league points were level at the season's end.
The next day a depleted Solent squad travelled north to play Manchester Magic. Despite an encouraging start which gave Solent an early lead and meant that they were still in the game at half time (37 - 45), Solent eventually fell away to lose 68 - 106 (Smith 30).
Sheffield Arrows were Solent's next visitors. In an ill-tempered game - that saw Sheffield's Danny Richards ejected for two 'unsportsmanlike' fouls - Solent could not match the consistent scoring of the visitors and lost 84 - 96 (Smith 24).
Basement club Nottingham Knights were already relegated when Solent came to play them. Solent led for three quarters of the game. However, coach Steve Chant's decision to give all his players a run on court backfired when Will Zoppellini gave the ball away twice under pressure to give Nottingham hope. They built on this and Solent fell away in the final quarter to be defeated yet again by the bottom team, 78 - 85 (Smith 23).
Sylvain Donneaud (assistant coach)
In the final home game of the season, visitors Kingston Wildcats demonstrated the value of successful three point shooting. Their six scores in the third quarter was the difference between the teams as Solent slumped to a final defeat in the season, 83 - 106 (Smith 30).
|3||City of Sheffield Arrows||26||20||6||2453||2179||+274||40|
|6||Essex & Herts Leopards||26||17||9||2283||2098||+185||34|
|13||Kings Lynn Fury||26||4||22||1846||2374||-528||8|