C&S UCC Demons have lost only one game in all Basketball Ireland competitions this year. That was a 30-point hammering away to UCD Marian, who they once again travel to face this Saturday in Dublin in the Men’s Premier League.
While that 30-point loss was just enough to see them through to the National Cup semi-final, courtesy of their 31 point leg-one victory the week before in Cork, the memory of that near disaster is still vivid in the minds of the Demons players.
“They are the only team to have gotten one up on us and we definitely feel like we owe them one,” said Demons guard Adrian O’Sullivan.
“I think what hurt us that day was our preparation as opposed to theirs. We thought all we had to do was show up and that the 31-point lead was enough. The damage was done in the first quarter and then we were in a ball game.”
O’Sullivan and his teammates certainly won’t be making that mistake again and, despite having a huge National Cup semi-final battle with Killester the following week, minds are focused on Marian.
“Colin (O’Reilly – Demons’ head coach) has all year been about ‘one game at a time’ and while it is tough to focus because the cup is so big, in-house the only talk has been about Marian,” said O’Sullivan.
Demons are undefeated in league play and hold first place outright ahead of Killester, who they defeated in December.
UCD Marian, meanwhile, have enjoyed their most successful stretch, picking up back-to-back wins to end 2013, showing signs of the potential that had many picking them as title contenders before the season started.
Meanwhile, Demons’ opponents in the upcoming National Cup semi-final, Killester, are also in action Saturday as they travel to play a Dublin Inter side looking to snap a three-game losing streak.
In Cork, it remains to be seen how Bord Gais Neptune bounce back from their shocking 41-point loss to DCU Saints last weekend, when they play Belfast Star. The loss ended what had been an impressive three-game winning streak for Neptune.
Elsewhere, SSE Renewables Moycullen continue to search for their first home win of the year against the visiting UL Eagles while DCU Saints host Templeogue in an all-Dublin affair.
The Women’s Premier League sees the meeting of heavyweights UL Huskies and Team Montenotte Hotel in Limerick, two of the favourites for the title.
“They are our main rivals, along with DCU, and when the fixtures come out you always look for those games first,” revealed Huskies forward Aoife McDermott.
These two met in the National Cup final almost 12 months ago, when Huskies held on for a 10-point win, and could well meet again this January as both have made it through once more to the semi-final stage.
They also met once so far this season in league play in October, when Huskies also won, this time by just five.
“It was very early in the season and I think since then they have gotten better and we have gotten better so it will be a different game. We both know each other so well so it should be a good one Saturday again,” added McDermott.
Elsewhere, it is a busy weekend for Ulster Rockets as they travel first to play DCU Mercy on Saturday night before heading to Waterford and a meeting with WIT Wildcats on Sunday.
There are also games also between Liffey Celtics and Killester and between Singleton SuperValu Brunell and Meteors.
Saturday 4 January
Men's Premier League
Dublin Inter V Killester, Mountview Y&C Club, 6:00pm; SSE Renewables Moycullen V UL Eagles, Kingfisher Arena, Galway, 6:30pm; UCD Marian V C&S UCC Demons, UCD Sports Centre, Dublin, 7:00pm; Bord Gais Neptune V Belfast Star, Neptune Stadium, Cork, 7:00pm.
Women's Premier League
DCU Mercy V Ulster Rockets, DCU Sports Complex, Dublin, 3:30pm; UL Huskies V Team Montenotte Hotel, PESS Building, UL, 7:00pm; Liffey Celtics V Killester, Leixlip Amenities Centre, Kildare, 7:30pm.