Athletic Spartans ready to run
The Trinity Western Spartans are counting on their athleticism to make up for their lack of experience.
"We are probably as athletic as anybody in Canada," said men's basketball coach Scott Allen.
"Up and down the court, full court pressure, it is a very entertaining team to watch."
That athleticism could serve them well as they return just one starter from last year's squad, point guard Tristan Smith.
Smith averaged 12.9 points and 5.9 assists per game.
The team went 3-4 during the pre-season but is dealing with injury problems as they get set to begin the Canada West regular season with a pair of home games at the Langley Events Centre against the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday and Saturday night.
Joining Smith in the starting five will likely by Eli Mara, Tonner Jackson, Mark Perrin and Denny McDonald.
None of the four were with the team last year.
Mara missed all of last season with an ACL injury while Jackson spent the year in Ottawa at the Laurentian Leadership Centre.
Perrin and McDonald are both third-year college transfers from Toronto and Allen calls them "arguably two of the best athletes playing in the CIS."
And while the starting five has high potential, the question surrounding the team is what to expect from the bench.
Both Kurtis Osborne and Justin Bakuteka are expected to contribute more after playing significant roles last season. Altogether, the Spartans have six players competing at the CIS level for the first time.
Despite whatever challenges they face, Allen has lofty goals for his squad.
"We don't see any reason why we couldn't make nationals," he said.
"That is our first goal. (But) every year, we are working towards the ultimate goal, which is winning a national championship.
"We wouldn't aspire for anything less than that."
The key is for the team to constantly get better as the season progresses.
"We have to grow every day, as individuals and as a team also," he said.
"We have the athleticism to do it, it is more just trying to find out the determination and the fight within each one of these players has to become better every day."
Last season, the Spartans went 10-8 and qualified for the playoffs.