By Lethbridge Herald on November 14, 2023.
By Justin Seward
While an early season break can be a challenge for many teams, the Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s basketball team have been making the most of their time off to improve ahead of resuming their regular season schedule this weekend.
The team hasn’t played a regular season game since Oct. 28 due to the scheduling this year and as a result had a two-and-a-half break.
“When you have 10 to 12 full practices … off of playing, (and) preparing for a certain opponent, it does give you an opportunity to work on a lot of stuff,” said head coach Ryan Heggie.
“And since we are quite a young program with a lot of new players, we looked at it as an opportunity. When I first saw the schedule, I looked at it as a negative because it’s a long time to sit. But we did book two scrimmage games in there. So we had Prolific Sports Academy come on one of the weeks and then CTA West came last week. So we did mix in some actual game situations. So it’s been good. I wouldn’t promote it every year but we made the best of it this year.”
Heggie had his players work on everything during the break.
“We’re a young team, so we just basically put in a few new things on offence and defence and then just tried to continue to get better at what we … already had in the system,” said Heggie.
Heggie believes in high-paced practices and that is exactly what the players experienced.
“Most of my practices are designed to compete high and make it mirror a basketball game,” said Heggie.
“Like the drills we do, I like it (to) mirror a basketball game. We do take some breaks. You can’t run a two-hour practice at that highest of tempos. So we do give them breaks to do shooting drills and ball handling and what not. But I like to run high tempo practices and I think our guys are better when they’re engaged in game-like situations. So we took advantage of that during the two weeks and the guys really responded because not having a game the next weekend, it kind of messes with their schedule as well.”
Heggie says they’re ready to go when the regular season resumes for them this weekend.
“They’re excited, and ready to play and ready to have some people in the crowd watching them again,” he said.
Cardston’s Rhett Lewis is a first-year player on the team and was asked about staying focused during the length break.
“It’s been a problem we talked about heading into it,” said Lewis.
“But we actually scheduled some exhibition games and a lot of competition during practice, having guys going five-on-five for large parts of practice, lots of conditioning, trying to stay in game shape and game ready form. But at the same time we were told to make sure we were mentally preparing by watching lots of game film. So we’re hoping to be on top of everything and ready to go on Friday.”
Lewis enjoyed the break.
“I was pretty beat up going into it,” he said.
“So I’ve been able to heal and get ready and I know that’s (the) same for some of our players. So I think it’s going to be good for us all around.”
The Kodiaks will play the top two teams from the North Division in Keyano College (5-1) and Lakeland College (5-2) this weekend at home.
“So as far as winning percentage, they’re both ahead of us and they’re both well coached teams. They both have all-star players and they both have good depth,” said Heggie.
The Kodiaks sit in fifth place in the South Division with a 3-2 record.