By Lethbridge Herald on November 2, 2023.
By Justin Seward
A new season tips off for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s basketball team today with a new head coach behind the bench that is implementing new ideas.
“I think it’s been alright,” said Kenny Otieno, Horns head coach, on preparation.
“I can’t say it’s been everything that I imagined it to be with certain changes in our roster due to eligibility, due to injuries, that kind of set us back as to how I envisioned things when I first took over in terms of the head coach.”
Otieno, however, thinks the team has made the right adjustments.
“There’s some things that we’ve experimented with in the preseason that have worked well for us and there’s some other things that we’ve tweaked as well,” said Otieno.
“But I think the guys that we do have ready to go, have been busting their butts and really going hard to try and make some noise this year, regardless of the circumstances of our roster.”
With being the new head coach, Otieno used the preseason to try and establish a culture.
“I guess I would say the first month we’re really trying to establish our defensive identity, “said Otieno.
“ What we wanted to try and accomplish day by day in terms of defensive principles and then after that is when we started focusing on execution and offence. So I think just experimenting with certain guys on both sides of the ball, whether it’s their strengths and weaknesses, that’s kind of what I meant by experimenting. Yeah, I think we’re slowly starting to figure out certain roles for our guys in terms of the guys that are going to play the heavier minutes, guys that are (going) to come in and be effective.”
The Horns, in Otieno’s mind, will have be disciplined if they are to find success this season.
“Discipline has to be our MO for the whole season because obviously we know there’s a lot of talented teams in Canada West,” said Otieno.
Otieno will rely on veteran Shae Gibb.
“I’ve worked with Shae quite extensively the last two years when I was the assistant and I think he’s made big strides in his game in terms of physicality,” said Otieno.
“Defensively, he’s always been pretty good in terms of always being able to match up with the other team’s best perimeter players. And I think this year, he’s already shown it, but he is definitely going to take a bigger step in terms of scoring load ,and just being able to handle pressure, and handle the ball a little bit more in terms of creating for himself or creating for others.”
Otieno will also look to American point guard Kymani Pollard.
“And I think he’s gotten better as well,” said Otieno.
“(He has) gotten a little bit more physical (and) also understands he has a bigger role.”
Otieno has had a challenge of filling the gap left by graduating six-foot-eight post Jeff Rodehutskors.
“So his presence is definitely missed and it’s been a challenge trying to fill that gap and I think that’s still something that we’re working through,” said Otieno.
Gibb said Kenny’s been great so far.
“He’s just brought in a completely new energy,” said Gibb.
“Like everyone’s been like super positive, and just like super upbeat and like we’re really excited to get the season going.”
Gibb sees the Horns in an underdog role due to a rough season a year ago.
“I think that’s a mentality we’re (going) to embrace,” said Gibb.
“Like we’re going to go out every game and be the first ones to attack and work harder.”
Gibb would like to think he’s a mentor for the younger players.
“As the point guard on the floor, I tend to control the pace and be a voice out on the court,” said Gibb.
“I think like just controlling the things on the court and then helping everybody else off the court.”
The Horns open up in Vancouver at the UBC Thunderbirds tonight at 8:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. tomorrow.