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Rustlers continue to flex their muscles

Rustlers continue to flex their muscles

Posted in By Colin
 
By Robb Fenton
With a perfect 16-0 record, the league’s leading scorer and two players in the top five, the most points of any team in the league by almost 500 and a No. 1 ranking in the country, it’s hard to find fault.
However, after a two-game sweep of the Grande Prairie Wolves this past weekend, Lakeland Rustlers men’s basketball coach Peter Sambu said his team still has work to do.
That’s hard to believe after looking at the Rustlers stats, but what does concern Sambu is the fact that his team allowed 84 points Saturday and is ranked fifth in the North Division in defence.
“It was a lack of intensity and just playing through the motions. Sometimes it’s difficult to play in games like that, but it’s something we have to get better at. We have to play for 40 minutes,” Sambu said.
The Rustlers walked away from the weekend with two wins, 126-54 Friday and 130-84 Saturday.
There is no question the Rustlers are the most talented team in the ACAC and they can score almost at will, but if their offence isn’t clicking, or they meet up with a team who is very strong defensively, they may have to make adjustments and right now, Sambu knows what has to get better.
“When it gets this deep in the season, teams are so good and games get tough, our offence isn’t always going to win us games. It’s going to be our defence and rebounding,” he said.
In each of the two wins this past weekend, the Rustlers had at least five players in double digits in scoring; six on Friday.
In their last three wins, the Rustlers have scored at least 119 points and overall, they’ve hit the century mark 11 times in the team’s 16 wins.
“Offensively there’s not a problem. Offensively we’re in a flow, everybody’s getting touches, guys are making shots, but we’re still not playing good defensively,” Sambu said. “We just have to continue working.”
Rustlers guard Aaron McGowan, who put up back-to-back 22-point games, said offensively his team has worked at things and they’re definitely seeing the results of that hard work.
“Our offence played really well. We’re putting in the work and it’s great to see everything paying off,” he said. “All the shooting drills we’ve been doing in practice have paid off.”
McGown said it’s nice to put up big numbers offensively and it’s great to have everyone contributing, but they need to have the same intensity on the defensive side of the ball and that hasn’t been there consistently enough.
“We have to focus a lot on the outside and boxing out. We just have to stay focused. We just keep on losing focus on defence,” McGowan said.
The Rustlers now enter a bye week and don’t hit the court again until Feb. 10 when they travel to Medicine Hat and Briercrest.
After that, the Rustlers host the Keyano Huskies to wrap up the season.
“That’s (complacency) something we can’t afford to get into. We have to continue to drive, keep them focused and as sharp as possible,” Sambu said of the coaching staff’s job in the final few weeks of the year as the Rustlers head into the playoffs.
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