With a chance to make the playoffs, the men’s basketball team looks to finish the year strong.
Currently in playoff position, the team stands at 8-10 overall with a 6-8 record in league play. They will most likely need to win the remainder of their games if they wish to compete in the postseason tournament.
At the midway point of the season, it seems as if the Coyotes are finding their rhythm.
“Both offensively and defensively, we are getting sharper,” said guard Amin Sawhini.
Earlier in the year, there were signs of inexperience and hesitation in regards to team flow and players’ roles for the team.
“We know we have the talent; we just need to put everything together,” said Sawhini.
Over the past month, the offensive efficiency and defensive pressure has improved mightily. The team seems to be getting easier shots while making it difficult for the opposition to score.
For example, the team recently dropped 90 points on Humboldt State while shooting 51 percent from the field and limiting Humbolt State to only 39 percent shooting.
“Our defensive intensity and focus has improved over the last couple of games,” said head coach Jeff Oliver. “The guys know their roles and are executing our half court sets.”
While being known for its presence in the league tournament over the last 20 years under Oliver, the team has missed the playoffs the last two seasons. However, Oliver and his team control their own destiny if they want to return to the league tournament.
“Being in the thick of the playoff race is exciting,” said Oliver. “Each game from here on out is important and we are looking forward to taking advantage of our opportunities.”
Putting everything together is easier said than done. With this Coyote team being younger than teams in the past, chemistry and growth are also taking priority.
“The closer a team is, the more you are willing to fight for one another,” said Sawhini.
Fight is what this team is going to need down the stretch.
In the remaining games in the season, the Coyotes look to keep improving. With improvement will come results, and this team is trying to focus on the little things to be successful.
“We want to be a team known for our chemistry and fight,” said Sawhini. “We acknowledge the importance of talent, but team chemistry is important when it comes down to fighting for a playoff spot.”
With Oliver being in a playoff race before, he knows patience is also going to be key.
“It is our expectation to compete for a tournament championship every year,” said Oliver. “Our guys know what needs to be done and we will take it one game at a time.”