25 years of Leopards – season 8

After having the same coach for more than five years at the start of their existence, the 2001/2 season saw Leopards’ have their third play-caller in as many years as Chris Pullem replaced Bob Donewald. The lure of the NBA proved too much for Donewald and the next time he was seen coaching in London was at the 2012 Olympics where his China team finished bottom. In his place came Pullem who had previously had a brief spell as Worthing Bears coach,
with Donewald having already recruited the team. Rashod Johnson had departed for Birmingham Bullets, and although Rod Brown and Jason Kimbrough returned with the former running the point and Kimbrough switching to shooting guard. Alderson and Robinson also returned, and the Big Cats were boosted by the signing of England international Martin Henlan who crossed London from old enemies Towers. Veteran Carl Miller came in for a swansong season and he was joined by rookie American Ravonte Dantzler and local guard Gianni Letieri. David Attewell had retired after becoming disillusioned with Donewald’s style to leave Pullem’s new team short on depth, but after surviving the current general manager’s mini bus driving during a December trip to Newcastle the English big man retuned for the final four months of the season.
It proved to be a tough campaign for Pullem having had little input into the team he was coaching, but there was some success in Trophy as wins against Leicester, Derby and Thames Valley helped them reach the quarter-finals. As well as persisting with the two conference system, the BBL also retained the unpopular practice of playing knockout rounds at Coventry Skydome, and Sheffield Sharks were beaten in quarter-finals before a Chester side who went on to complete the “Jet Wash” won the semi-final 92-83 at the same venue.
While big spending Towers and Brighton battled it out for the Southern Conference title, Leopards had looked a good bet for third place, but a poor end to the season saw the miss out to Milton Keyes on the head-to-head having lost three of their four games against the Lions. The following week saw the campaign end with another trip to Coventry where Leopards went down 94-88.

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