Spartans ready to run

Trinity Western men's basketball team tips off Canada West season Nov. 1

Newcomer Anthony Ottey is expected to push for playing time as the Trinity Western Spartans season tips off.

Newcomer Anthony Ottey is expected to push for playing time as the Trinity Western Spartans season tips off.

There is no doubt that the Trinity Western Spartans men’s basketball team has athleticism and speed.

The question — and what their success hinges on — is whether coach Scott Allen can harness the team’s raw talent and turn that into victories.

“They are very exciting to watch, especially in the transition part of the game,” he said.

“A lot of them play above the rim.”

What remains to be seen is how successful the squad will be.

“They are very athletic and coachable, just lacking experience as a collective group,” Allen said.

“That has been the most difficult thing, establishing roles, but that is coming together.”

The team was in China earlier this month and won all three of their games to finish the pre-season at 3-3. The losses came to a trio of American colleges and universities.

Eight starters return from last year’s 12-10 Spartans team which won 10 of its final 13 games to make the playoffs with a 12-10 record.

Among the returnees is last year’s leading scorer Mark Perrin who led the team with 18.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. The guard was also tops among the Spartans in steals.

Another returnee who should provide a lift to the team is forward Denny McDonald, who has been arguably the team’s top performer in the pre-season.

While last season saw many of the players competing at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport or Canada West level for the first time, the players should benefit from having a full year under their belts.

The Spartans tip off the Canada West regular season with a pair of home games at the Langley Events Centre: Nov. 1 against the Calgary Dinos and Nov. 2 against the Lethbridge Pronghorns.

A Canada West coaches poll has the Spartans ranked seventh out of the conference’s 16 teams.

And just like last year, they face a daunting first half schedule that will see them play seven of the higher-ranked teams in the first 10 games.

On the flip side, the back half of the schedule — which follows the holiday break — will see them face just one opponent ahead of them in the last dozen games.

Allen knows the experiences — and bumps along the way — will help the team in the season’s second half.

“We have to go in believing that we have all the tools and we are going to do whatever it takes to win,” Allen said.

“That is the first part of our step to success.”