Coaches of any sport, at any level, are salesmen for the most part.
They are attempting to sell their players a philosophy, a scheme, a blueprint for success.
You hear the quote about buying into the system quite often and the head coach of the Red Deer College Kings basketball team is no different.
So what exactly are his players buying?
“We have a saying around here, it’s called defense and layups,” said Clayton Pottinger.
A kind of a sports version of buy one, get one?
“We’ve got to be the best defensive team around, that’s how you give yourself a chance,” he said. “And in the game of basketball layups are the highest percentage shots so it boils down to being the best defenders and getting the most layups.”
Well it seems to be working as the Kings are sitting on top of the south division in the ACAC with a 10-2 record which the coach says he will gladly take at this point.
Pottinger feels there is more parity in the league this year and so the margin of error within a game is much smaller for the Kings than last year.
“We had enough talent and depth to sort of cover up some mistakes last year or if one guy had a bad game we had another guy who could step up pretty easily,” he said. He holds up last year’s team which had buckets of success only to fall just short at nationals when looking at the current roster.
“We have to be better than last year’s team if we expect to be in the hunt.”
Pottinger says the previous squad set a bar within the league and so teams are coming back this year with the goal of beating that RDC Kings team but it’s a two-way street.
“If we can’t beat that team from last year then we are going to have a difficult time beating anyone else who’s trying to exceed that team as well.”
Pottinger says he has the horses to accomplish that goal but it’s a different looking bunch than the Kings who took the floor last season.
He admits he doesn’t have the flat-out talent he had last year but there is a higher basketball IQ generally speaking.
The Kings have three teams in their own division – Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Olds College which are pushing them and he says it’s a crap shoot each night they face each other.
“It’s good that our division is super strong. It is good for us,” he said.
“Having said that I preferred the schedule last year where we got a chance to play everybody.”
When there is talk of the top teams in the province those four teams are always in the conversation along with NAIT in the north, a team which is dominating play in that division, he said.
He feels many thought this would be a down year for Red Deer because so many players graduated but that’s not the case.
“What they’re finding out and have to come to grips with is it isn’t a down year for Red Deer. We’re still going to be very competitive,” he said.
“I know there is still a second half of the season to be completed and so we have to make them believers in what we’re doing.”
That’s the very strong sales pitch to his team. Now we will see who is buying.