Sports

Interview with basketball’s Ian Jeffery and Nick Heff

The Bears move swiftly through BUCS and ULU. A word with Team Captain Ian Jeffery and President Nick Heff.


IAN JEFFERY

Tell us the roots of your involvement with basketball.

I started when I was about 14, just purely because I was taller than everyone else. I got dragged into the school team in the end whilst my friends played as well, ended up spending everyday for an entire year playing just right after school.

Is there any particular NBA player you look up to?

I don’t know, I guess I kind of look up to some of the more retro players, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson etc. From a life perspective, they set pretty good examples to follow. Just I was starting with the sport, there was a player coming into the league called LeBron James. I supported him as a young and upcoming rookie and he turned out to be a great superstar.


Would it be correct to say you’re trying to be Holloway’s LeBron James?

Haha. The coach might see it a bit differently thought but yeah if I could be that, I would.

So we’re halfway into the season so far and the bears are actually doing really well? Any thoughts?

Our goal was to always get promotion in the BUCS league. As of the moment, we are on target to do that. Slightly under strength when compared to the teams from previous years, but it looks like we are going to make it. We got a good system in place and ready for next year as well.

..and your projections?

With the results we have got, we are still on for the BUCS and ULU championships. It is going to be a bit of work since we lost a game we shouldn’t have lost therefore, we have to fight back from that. We’re still strong in all our competitions and the fight for all 4 championships this year is still on.

What makes the Bears different from other universities’ teams?

Quite a lot of the teams don’t have a professional coach, in which we do in Steve Bucknall, an ex NBA player. We also got a pretty good sports programme and package plus good support from the university and development programmes. A lot of the other universities do not get the training time we get, so we are very fortunate compared to others.

How does coach Steve then make a difference?

It really comes down during game time. Sometimes, when things are going wrong, he will help you snap out of it. Having a professional coach on the sideline, knowing what to say since he has been in those types of situations thousands of times before, you know he is going to drag you through it. He’s pretty good to rely on. I have played on  tons of teams where we didn’t have a professional coach or even had a coach, and when things go wrong, you are just
on your own.

Is it a safe to say then that if it weren’t for Steve Bucknell the Bears would
not be where they are today?

Well it is a pretty good set up club. The year before Steve came we did well. We weren’t lucky enough to win the BUCS championship that year, but I think if we had Steve we may have done.

As team captain, what do you think your role for the team is? How do you actually contribute to the team?

I try and do as much as I can. I try and organise everything, all the practice times plus the games. This year, I’m trying to get back to the actual captain’s role of being the team motivator. Last year, I was kind of really just the administrator
since Steve just came in so we all had new roles. This year, I’m trying to get the team spirit up and get people together for socials as well.

Say like 4th quarter, 2 minutes left, game tied, are you the one everyone looks to for a motivational speech?

I try to be! Haha! Since its tough to be heard when you got an ex NBA coach giving it as well, people tend to listen to him but more than me I think, but yeah! I will be on the bench or on the floor yelling.

Best line you’ve ever recited?

I’ve been kind of stealing line from some of the Jordan ads. There’s one I use which is “Stay the course, Stay together, Stay focused”. I think it sums up what we need to do as a team

And your expectations for the future?

I think this summer, the Bears can develop a lot more since we didn’t fully take advantage of it this year. We will do more this time. We only have 4 players from last year and a lot of rookies so hopefully, we’ll have a better team and play in division 2 next year. The bears should be a team to watch out for.
___________________________

NICK HEFF

How did your affair with basketball start?

Basically, I went into a game store, and was looking for a game cause I was bored. I picked up a copy of NBA, took it home and thought, “This is quite cool! perhaps I could get into this!”. So I got into the local leisure center, and basketball session was starting so I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll just go in and try out”. It’s been 5 years from that point now.

Looks like it’s been working out pretty well for you? Top scorer almost every game!

Well, someone’s got to do it yeah? It’s sort of you got to do what you got to do for the team. Everyone’s got their roles and mine’s to score. So I just…..score.

Is there an NBA player you look up to?

The first ever jersey I owned was a Kobe Bryant one so I kind of followed him for a bit. He’s ruthless in scoring and he never lets up. I think being a shooter myself, Ray Allen has got to be out there with one of the purest shooting forms despite him being a Celtic. But although I must say, all time? Reggie Miller. 25 points in the 4th quarter against the Knicks?! I watch that before every game, it gets me pumped.

Your role within the team might be the scorer, but everyone says you’ve got this other role of being the team comedian as well?

How I’m entertaining?! Well, I just take the piss out of everyone on the team, usually myself before everyone else though I must say. Basically, I’m the one who tries to get everyone to come out at socials. You know, what’s a team without get-togethers? I mean, that’s what its all about.

That’s really interesting but what I actually meant was during a game

Oh during the games! I got to lead cause someone’s got to be the leader. I mean, as team we got to be cohesive, play together, play for each other. And if I got to lead by scoring, then I’m more than happy to do that. Even if that means I have to be shouting, getting in someone’s face or making a joke, its what I got to do.

Can you give an instance how this actually helped the team?

In a game? Well there was this instance against Portsmouth. Literally, we were down by double figures and you look at the guys with their heads down and think “alright we could either lose this game or you can dig deep and try and pull them out”. I have to mention Billy and Ruby here as they never stopped working all the way through. If your team sees you not giving up, being fearsome and ferocious, they’re going to take after you. We won that game by one point in the end. Now we’re on track to win the championship. It just goes to show how one game, one instance, can change the whole season around.

How far do you think this team can go?

We can definitely win the league, but by no means, it is a sure thing. We might not be as strong as we were than the teams before, but that’s what is admirable about this sort of team. We just come together and I think that is the most positive thing we can get out of this season. We might not be the most talented, but with what we have, we use that and try to be the most effective. For us to win the league this season would be one of the best achievements I will have gone through in my time here.

What do you think of coach Steve Bucknall?

He definitely brings a whole new other level of experience into the game. You would be surprised with the amount of times for example, if he is not present, you could easily tell the deficiency of confidence or swagger we have. He can basically stop the game and be like “Right, you’re doing this wrong! sort it out” and you listen. You get better because you got a guy who knows what he is talking about, he knows the game in and out. You can trust each other on the
court with your teammates, but if you don’t trust the coach, then things don’t work out too well. He can be harsh, but it is working.

Do you have any parting words?

Yeah! Let us get more people down to the games. We could definitely use the support. It is more motivating when people come and if you do, we promise to put on a good show for you.

Anything for the readers?

Come watch the Holloway bears, ’cause Nick Heff is playing.

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