Brunel Basketball’s history and performance track record reflects this with the University targeting Basketball as one of six Performance Sports that receive additional focused support for its members. The University first team is the longest serving team, without relegation, in the top flight of BUCS competition. In the past 25 years the first team has made the “Final 8” tournament 20 times, winning the tournament in the 1999-2000 season.
Throughout the 80s, the University was home to the original Brunel Ducks National League Basketball team, drawn from a combination of students and external players. The team’s crowning achievement came in 1987, when they became the most unlikely of champions, winning the National League Basketball Championship Trophy at Wembley, as detailed in John Kirkland’s book Ducking and Diving. Unfortunately, the team disbanded shortly afterwards. The team was re-launched in 2014 with the idea of uniting the communities of Hillingdon and Brunel behind a competitive Basketball team, combining both students and members of the local community in the line-up. The ultimate goal of this project being to see the Brunel Ducks relive those former glory days by competing in the top league of Basketball England. Building on our inaugural season, where we won National League Division 4 South East, this year saw us finish as runners up in National League Division Three to an excellent Thames Valley Cavaliers team that went unbeaten in all competitions.
The Ducks also have a strong link with NCAA Division 2 team Florida Tech that has helped aid the development of the team. In 2014 the ducks embarked on a 12-day tour of Florida playing 5 games against division two teams. Adding to the invaluable experience of the trip, head coach Pete Deppisch contacted his old teammate and head coach of the Miami Heat who gave a meet and greet with the players and tickets to watch an NBA game. The following year, the university played host to Florida Tech as they embarked on a UK preseason tour.
The vibrant university populace and the local community present great opportunities to develop our considerable fan base. The burgeoning fan base of the university basketball teams highlight just how popular basketball has become with university students (Example of Crowd Attendance attached). The Ducks provide students and the local community the chance to see elite basketball in the west London area. This is especially attractive to the younger audience, and in combination with our current connections with local schools and our junior grass roots programme, provokes a high level of interest.
Brunel University also has state of the art sporting facilities, with two sports halls that can accommodate up to 250 spectators each and disabled access throughout. Both halls have sprung flooring and all serviced by equipment that is recognised by an industry leading sports specialist supplier.
The Brunel Youth Basketball Programme started in September 2013 as a community outreach programme for the Brunel Ducks National League basketball team. The youth programme is a two-hour basketball training session targeted at local school children aged 7-17. Currently there are over 220 registered children who have attended from 53 different schools in both the immediate and surrounding boroughs. Participants also receive heavily discounted tickets for Brunel Ducks games, to encourage young players to watch live basketball with their local team at a national league level. Many of the youth programme participants have become committed Brunel Ducks fans and regularly attend all the home games of the season.
Due to the continued success of the youth programme an elite basketball project is scheduled to begin in the autumn of 2016 at Brunel University. This is being developed as a direct feeder programme for the Brunel Ducks National League team. The elite programme will encourage more talented and gifted players aged 14-21 and will provide a platform for developing a group of skilled student athletes with the potential to eventually become a youth team and ultimately to compete in the National League.
Want to know more about the Ducks' history? Have a ready of "Ducking and Diving: Britain, Basketball and Brunel in the 1980s" by John Kirkland. Available from Amazon.