Gloucester City Queens saw a change in coaching roles in a 109-56 defeat to Sheffield Hatters as previously appointed assistant coach James Bowers took charge of the game.
Jay Marriott, CEO of Gloucester Sport, had been the head coach for the entirety of the season, but his assistant, Bowers, was officially registered on the Women’s Basketball League website as the head coach for the first time in the game against their Yorkshire opponents.
The new head coach has been with the team all season and has aided their stability in what has been a turbulent and inconsistent first year in the league.
The swap isn’t a massive shock to those surrounding the Queens though as Marriott wasn’t expected to fulfil the position long term as he planned to take time out of active basketball coaching.
After being formed as a team last summer the Queens are currently struggling in 11th place, winning just one of their nine games since the turn of the year and are on a damning seven game losing streak.
Marriott has navigated the first 16 games of the season as the official coach with the watchful eye of Bowers alongside him, but this small yet important change comes amidst the controversy of allowing star player Melita Emanuel-Carr to leave the club in January.
Bowers was part of the management team that was involved in that decision, and as the final seven games of the season approach, it appears that he has taken the official role as head coach earlier than originally anticipated.
Having played a key role in setting the club up, Marriott states in his LinkedIn profile that “it’s my responsibility to create the team within the team. Working on behalf of our owners to create professional, elite and sustainable sports models across the city.
“Taking a break to focus on a young family I have specialised in commercial roles and now look forward to taking those experiences back into the sports industry.”
The formation of Gloucester’s biggest women’s basketball team has seen Marriott dip back into sports management this season having previously played professionally for 10 years and also coached Plymouth Raiders as well.
Although Marriott remains committed to the team, ParkLife Sport understands that Bowers was initially meant to be taking over next season, but he took a more active role in the squad’s defeat to top of the table Sheffield.
The former NCAA Division One Level coach in California led the team talks and tactical timeouts during the loss, and there were also alterations to the team’s warmup procedures which could have come from the switch in roles.
After the game Bowers spoke to the club media for the first time, saying, “we started to think about next year and what we want to do and what system we want to put in place.”
Although there has been no public statement of admission from the club that the roles have changed, both Marriott and Bowers are heavily involved in the group’s coaching and for the torch to be passed over wouldn’t massively effect day-to-day functions at the club. There is also nothing to suggest that Marriott will be less involved for the remainder of the season and he’s expected to attend the rest of the matches as usual.
The change also makes sense with the team going through a tough patch of form, having a new face in charge might make a vital difference as the club looks to remain in the Championship in their first season before a formal appointment is made.
The defeat for the Queens at St Peter’s High School was hotly contested off the court by both sets of coaching staff was indication of Bowers’ instant impact as the Queens looked more direct in their attacks. Bowers admitted that this was part of the plan.
“Driving at the basket and passing always helps. Going downhill, create rotations, make the extra passes on the kick outs, share the basketball, that’s what everybody gets up for.
“You watch the crowd, make those extra passes, make those shots, it gets everybody out of their seats and that’s what they want to be here for.”
Bowers’ next challenge in charge is hosting Oaklands Wolves in a bottom of the table scrap in two weeks time at Oxtsalls Sports Park.