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Rustlers on the right path

Rustlers on the right path

Posted in By Colin
 
 

By Robb Fenton
The Lakeland Rustlers men’s basketball team refuses to get too high after a very successful weekend in pre-season action, but they did impress.
The Rustlers hosted the 2011 Border City Showcase – welcoming five other teams to Lakeland Gym for three days of basketball.
The Rustlers dominated their three opponents, beating St. Mary’s 105-60, Lethbridge 99-66 and Grant MacEwan 101-65.
Rustlers head coach Peter Sambu said he knows it’s still early in the year, but he liked what he saw and is excited about the potential of his team.
“I like the fact that are guys are competing and it’s early in the season and that’s what we have to do, make sure we’re in every game and try to compete the best we can,” Sambu said.
Sambu expects his team to play with the same intensity and same desire in every game this season and if they do that, they will at least give themselves a chance at winning.
He said his team needs to play all four quarters every night in order to achieve their goal.
“I liked the way they competed so far. We want to make sure we always play 40 minutes,” he said.
Sambu said his team really played as a unit over the weekend.
There were obviously times when it wasn’t as noticeable, but for the majority of all three games, every player who hit the court played for the team and used the systems they have learned in practice. Putting up at least 99 points each game didn’t hurt either.
“They’ve really come together, they’ve come together as a unit and they are trying to buy into what we’re trying to do, trying to see the game clearly through my lenses. They’re so young, so it’s taking them a little while, but I like the way they’re shaping up and their competitive nature,” Sambu said.
One of the standouts from the weekend was guard Njuguna Waiganjo, who said the little things have helped the Rustlers find success up to this point in the pre-season
“We’ve been stepping up on the defensive end, we’re listening to the coach and basically paying attention to detail, and that’s what has won us the games so far,” he said.
The reason the Rustlers have been so successful early on is the fact that they’re buying into the systems that the coaching staff is putting in place.
With so many athletes and so much skill, it’s easy for this team to score, but the real challenge will come at the other end of the court where they have to defend.
And so far, so good for Lakeland.
“Paying attention to detail, giving that extra effort, the energy on the defensive side because we could care less about offence, defence wins games,” Waiganjo said, adding putting up points is nice, but they only need one more than the other team to win, so limiting the opposition is key.
A win is a win and regardless of when it comes in the season, it’s a big boost to the team. So even though the season doesn’t start for a couple of weeks, it’s key that the team builds momentum when they can.
“It’s a big confidence boost for our team. We’re pretty young, but it’s good to be 5-0, so it’s good,” Waiganjo said.
Even dating back to last year, Sambu said it’s where you finish, not where you start. These games are important, but he wants to see his team progress, improve and when the playoffs roll around, be ready to make a run at an ACAC and national title.
“As long as these kids continue to get better, I’ll be happy,” Sambu said. “In the pre-season you always want to get the momentum. It’s not the end-all, be-all to get wins, but you want to get the momentum going into the regular season so we’ll take that momentum.”
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