- National Teams
GB under-20 forward Connor Murtagh can’t wait to showcase himself at the top level throughout the new BBL season with Manchester.
Murtagh switched Magic for Giants this summer and made his BBL debut on Saturday with 10 points and 6 rebounds in a 104-82 defeat against Leicester.
“I’m really excited about the new season and I’m really looking forward to showing people my potential,” he told Hoopsfix prior to the weekend opener. “It’s a great opportunity to play for the Giants as I really wanted to play BBL so I took the chance with both hands.”
The 20-year-old competed at the U20 European Championships during the summer as GB maintained their Division A status and believes the experience as a whole will prove to be a major benefit.
“The experience was phenomenal,” he stated. “All parts of my game improved due to playing against top opposition with talented players and because of the great coaches we had.”
Murtagh has been gradually climbing through the ranks having gone from Division 2 to Division 1 in two years with Manchester Magic before now making it to the top flight. New team-mate Darren Best is another player making the leap from the lower divisions and Murtagh feels that more young players should be given the opportunity to do so.
“I definitely think we should see more young players and players stepping up into the BBL. A lot of teams bring in Americans so there aren’t that many opportunities around for young players. It makes it too hard to play in the top leagues and forces young players to either play college ball in America or look elsewhere.”
The 6’5″ forward is eager to make the most of his own chance and impress in the BBL this season. Murtagh knows what is expected of him in his debut year and believes he can adjust to the new challenge.
“I know I have to bring a lot of energy,” he said. “We have a strong starting five so it’s up to guys like me to bring heart and energy from the bench and I feel that’s a strong point to my game.
“I believe I can cope in the BBL but I still have a lot to improve, especially defensively because although D1 is a good standard, the BBL is a big step-up and you will get punished by your mistakes.”
Manchester were dealt an early blow in pre-season with the announced departures of David Aliu (Cheshire) and Rob Marsden (Cognac, France) on the same day before influential guard James Jones also left. The core of Stefan Gill, David Watts, Callum Jones and Mike Bernard all remain while Ben Eaves has returned following a year with Plymouth.
Since their return to the BBL, the Giants have been involved in two final day scraps for the playoffs – both against London Lions – and have gone from agony to ecstasy in their quest for the post-season. And Murtagh believes his new side are capable of doing even better third time around.
“Losing key players is a blow, but I feel like we have a great squad and are capable of finishing in the top 6. We have lots of talented players and the chance to learn off the vets so I think the playoffs are a definite target.
“Pre-season started late but we’ve all been working hard and it’s been nice bonding with the team. Friendlies against USA Select and Leeds were good for us and we are ready to do well.”
Check out Murtagh’s 2013-14 highlights below: