LEOPARDS will be without coach Robert Youngblood when they meet Leeds Carnegie in the play-off semi-final on Saturday.
The Big Cats’ play-caller received a one-game ban after being ejected in the victory against Team Northumbria in late March, and, although he received less than the automatic ten disciplinary points, the post-game ejection when his side lost at Leeds in January means he will sit out the game in Manchester.
Assistant coach Roger Malpass will take charge of the team as they attempt to win their fifth piece of silverware in five seasons, with Youngblood free to coach again if they reach Sunday’s final against either Reading Rockets or Bradford Dragons.
“It’s massively frustrating we won’t have Robert when England Basketball have basically admitted that he should never have been thrown out against Northumbria” said general manager Dave Ryan.
It will be the fourth straight season that the Big Cats have reached the Final Fours – winning it in 2012 – and they are the only team to be ever-present during that period.
American forward Howard Crawford was voted as the club’s Most Valuable Player, receiving his award from retiring chairman Fred Dicker after Leopards’ play-off quarter-final win against Bristol Academy Flyers.
The American big man led the league in points per game (20.8), total blocks (25) and free-throw percentage (78.3 per cent).