Who Is Coach Karol

Mariusz Karol got his London Lions Head Coaching job off to a great start, walking away with the Betway All-Star Challenge and a cool £25,000, but just who is Coach Karol?

“I love offence, but defence wins Championships.” Coach Karol returns to the Lions bench with a clear coaching philosophy. Freedom on offence. Hard work and rules on defence. It is a philosophy that has developed from a lifetime in basketball.

“I knew that I have to be with basketball” Coach Karol was born and raised in Poland with basketball ever present in his life, first as a player and then later as a coach. Karol has two degrees. The first is in law, but the second is in his true calling, physical education and Basketball coaching. Coach Karol comes to London with a wealth of experience from an almost twenty year long coaching career. Karol has held coaching positions in a variety of roles including assistant coaching and head coaching jobs in Poland and in the UK, working with male and female players and both junior and senior players.

Lions fans will be remember Coach Karol as an assistant coach to the men’s team and coach of Hackney College in 2014, having been hired by Vince Macaulay after a recommendation from Laurent Irish. Coach Karol left the Lions after more than a year in order to take up a Head coaching position in the Polish Professional league. Coach Karol has returned to London as the head coach and has his eyes set on glory. “ I want to be here [The O2 for the playoffs] in May, no question, everybody is thinking like this.”

Lions fans and British basketball fans across the country saw a glimpse of Coach Karol’s style of basketball. “We will play the basketball we saw today [at the Betway All-Star Championship], unless we see something. We push for defence. No open layups, no losing baskets to easy layups. This is the key.” London Lions fans are sure to be treated to a hard working professional team this season, as the Coach is keen to instill good habits. But it isn’t all about defending for the Coach. “I work hard with defence, but I need to be careful with offence because we have players who can score. We give them freedom.”

Coach Karol is very happy with the squad at his disposal for the upcoming season, and wants to compete in every competition they enter, they’re all stops along the way to the o2. “We have 10 very good players on offense...and we have 7 or 8 very good defenders.” Coach Karol’s hard work and rules oriented approach is designed to cut down on easy baskets and fouls. “Fouls always [happen] when they are weak in defence, weak legs, working with hands, no fight, always give fouls.”

His rules are simple. “Hard working defence, move with your legs. The player who presses on the balls feels safe as players behind control what happens on ball.” Coach Karol is looking to his Point Guards to set the tone on defence, “Our goal is Justin [Robertson] and Dre [Lockhart] and every PG play defence. If they see a PG fighting like a dog the rest of the team will fight.”

Coach Karol sees his gameday role as that of a sixth player. “I play with the players, especially when D is on our side I want to be the sixth player. I’m like the sixth player, I need to be active, aggressive, talking with referees.”

On a personal note, Coach Karol is excited to be back living in London. “I love the city, when I first came here I thought ‘what happened in my life in almost 50 years I had never been to London?’ London is beautiful, I love the crowds, I like to go to the shops and I’m not nervous about there being a hundred thousand people.”

Coach Karol is happy with the direction the club is headed in. The players and himself are all professional which allows them to train Monday through Thursday ready for the weekends. Even after celebrating their well earned Betway All Star Championship, Coach Karol had his players in the gym working early Monday morning. Everything in the pursuit of Championships.

That attitude paid off with good wins to open up the season, on the road against a very good Worcester team but also at home against the Surrey Scorchers quenching the desire of returning Lions Alex Owumi and Tayo Ogedengbe. We wait to see how Karol’s charges fare this season but they have certainly put themselves in the best possible position.

Report; Darren Paul

Date added: 05/10/2017

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