This archived article was written by: Beth Liddell
USU Eastern men’s basketball is off to a strong start both on and off the court. Although, as Jeff Perkins states, “Life is like a Sudoku board, so dang hard to figure out,” the 2012-2013 team is well on their way to doing just the opposite: figuring it out. The team began their preseason adventure at the Salt Lake City Jamboree. Faced with both mental and physical obstacles, the coaches and players were able to overcome all challenges and pull together as one, a team united proudly as Golden Eagles.
Though the Eagles faced some tough competition this past weekend, they were able to come out on top. First taking on Gillette College from Wyoming, the Eagles maneuvered their way to victory as head coach Adjalma Vanderlei Becheli Jr Vando substituted three teams of five on and off the court working primarily on offensive and defensive situations. The final score proved the men’s hard work: 38-35.
In hopes of discovering the perfect balance and chemistry between players, Vando takes a shot at another win with a new approach. Substituting players individually rather than in teams of five, the team focused primarily on defensive strategy. Number 21 and team captain Bubby Johnson, drew a foul and drained both his free throws, leading the team to a last minute nail-biting triumph over Nebraska (34-30).
Unfortunately, the team was unable to a hold onto their winning streak. Carol College proved to be a solid match for USU Eastern. Though the team did not come up on top, it provided an opportune learning moment for the team. “If you are satisfied where you are now, then you are not doing anything with your life. You have to push forward always. That is the secret to success,” states Vando.
Travon Langston states, “Do it right, do it light. Do it wrong, do it long.” The team is focusing on the little things on the court, but pulling some big plays off the court as well. As a team, a personal goal is to be out participating in the community, building relations.
The team has participated in many service projects and the response has been immense. One community member comments, “The guys are great! They are friendly and so willing to work. It’s good to see the relationship between athletes and community members starting to rebuild. I think everyone is realizing we need their help just as much as they need our support.” Community service projects seem to be a building time for the team.
“The team is really close,” comments player Mike Stroud. “The first week here, I even kissed Todd’s girlfriend.” The men can almost always be found bantering with one another, sharing inside jokes. “Sometimes, when Todd (Helgesen) goes to McDonalds, he throws his phone at the toilet,” one teammate comments.
Vando anticipates an eventful season with this group. He is unwavering in his optimistic opinion that this is “a good group of guys. They are nice guys who work well with each other. Besides, I like them well enough.” Both coaches and players look forward to a new start with the new season.