THE Latrobe City Energy basketball team is powering through the current BigV Division one men’s season.
According to senior men’s coach Luke Smith, the team is finally working together after a rough start.
“Early in the season wasn’t great, but we’ve really started coming together as a team,” Smith said, who is in his third season with the club.
“We’ve got 10 main guys who really complement each other and it’s just a pleasure to coach them.”
After round nine, the division one men’s team is six wins three losses, going down to Geelong at Geelong on Sunday night.
“It sounds a bit strange, but it was a good loss to have,” Smith said.
“We’d won six in a row and started to get a bit cocky, so I think this has brought us back down to earth and highlighted the areas we need to work on.”
According to Smith, defence is where the team has to work on “helping each other out”.
“If you’re slacking off, it means someone else has to help you out and if they lose sight of their man to help you, the whole team is being let down,” he said.
Smith said the club has recruited well, with promising players including 14-year old Jack White of Traralgon, Texan import Russell Permenter, who was awarded the competition’s player of the month in April, as well as Trent Everet and Seb Fontaine.
Despite his young age, Smith said Jack is a particularly “smart” player.
“He’s pretty tall for a 14 year-old, but his strength is that he’s a very smart player,” he said.
“His strength will develop, but he’s currently playing years ahead of himself.”
Smith said although the team is improving, there is still a long way to go, but they were now better able to “control games” and “make teams play how they want them to play”.
“There’s still 13 matches to go for the season, but with the loss on Sunday we really know where we have to improve and make sure we’re consistently strong in defence,” he said.
Over the last year, according to Smith the standard of the league has improved greatly, with the inclusion of new teams and increasing intensity from existing ones.
“Some of the clubs have ex-NBL players and some former college players from the states like Russell (Permenter), so now if you don’t play your best every week you’ll get pumped,” Smith said.
“It’s such an even competition, Werribee, Camberwell and Mildura are probably our biggest threats but really anyone can win on a given day because its so close.”
And Smith knows exactly what he wants from his team this year.
“The championship,” he said.
“Ideally I want all my players to keep improving to play at the best level possible, and some of them want to go on to the NBL or the states and we’d like to help them achieve those goals.”