Western basketball coach Ken McDonald said Monday he expects the Toppers to be the team to beat in the Sun Belt Conference this season, adding that the team takes a championship approach to each day of practice.
“I brought them in the first practice and said, ‘guys, who is going to be expected to win this conference? We are. Who should win this conference? We should. Who is it going to be up to? It’s going to be up to us,’” McDonald said.
Through two days of practice, junior forward Sergio Kerusch said the Toppers have performed up to expectations.
“Coach Mac always ends the day by asking us, ’Did we win a championship today?’” Kerush said. “So far, the first two days, we got a championship…we’re putting it all on the line every day to hopefully achieve that goal.”
According to McDonald, the team is “light years ahead” in it’s development compared to this time last year, when the Toppers had to go through a “get to know you” period with their new coach.
Although the Toppers are going to be fighting youth this season with freshmen William Green, Jamal Crook, Jordan Swing and Caden Dickerson all joining the team over the summer, McDonald said it’s not an excuse.
“I really am going to do my best this year to not use the word young,” McDonald said. “I hate that word, and it’s an excuse a lot, so I don’t want to use it.”
As opposed to last season when depth wasn’t always available, McDonald expects the six through 10 spots to get plenty of minutes — sometimes more than the starters.
“Depth was a huge issue I felt like in terms of our development,” McDonald said. “We couldn’t simulate game conditions in our practices, and that’s changed.”