Shooting star

Look at that bulging vein

Look at that bulging vein

Brendan Hebert helps to pull Cougars out of slow start

Article: Matt Wincherauk – Contributor

Since winning their first game in dramatic fashion, it has been a rather tough first half of the season for the Cougars men’s basketball team.  But, the challenges have not fazed starting guard Brendan Hebert, who is business as usual.

One of the keys to the Cougars’ season is their reliance on younger players, the first and second-year players who normally would not be called upon so early to do so much.

As far as Hebert is concerned, it is important to get the younger players going as quickly as possible in their careers.

“Because we have so many young guys, rather than one or two, which is more common, it’s likely a little bit more important for these guys to always be learning, especially on the fly,” said the fourth-year “The more comfortable that they get, the better our team is going to be from the starters to the last guy off the bench. So far the young guys have been handling their business well; everyone has been keen to learn and spend time in the gym.”

As one of just three players that are above third-year on the squad, due to his veteran experience, Hebert has been thrown into a leadership role.

“My role as an older guy who’s been here for what feels like a long time, is trying to communicate as much as possible,” he said. “I think the more I can help guys understand the game and understand what it takes to be successful, the more beneficial my time is. I’ve also been focusing on trying to keep things light on and off the court. We’ve had a tough stretch of opponents, so we could have had a tough time with team dynamic, but thankfully we didn’t have any issues.”

Younger players like first-year Ryan Delwo and second-year forward Travis Sylvestre have been asked to step up, and their presence for the rest of the season will be a determining factor for the Cougars and their chances in their division.

In an interesting turn of events, with the inclusion of new assistant coach Wade Hackl, Hebert now has another familiar face in the gym. Hackl was Hebert’s former coach during his early playing days at Michael A. Riffel High School in Regina, and the two have had a special relationship.

“I have a lot of respect for Wade, and I think Wade has a lot of respect for me, so it has been a really easy transition,” said Hebert, who is averaging 10.6 points per game this year. “I think he’s wanted a role like this for a while and he’s deserving of it. He and I get along very well, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having him around. All three coaches are great guys, and each bring a different kind of attitude, so it’s been nice having different voices and opinions.”

A recurring theme for the Cougars this year is shooting problems.  Across the board, shooting slumps have cost this team. The Cougars are 40 per cent from the court, 31 per cent from the three-point line, and only 60 per cent from the free throw line.

Although the team is off to a slow start, Hebert has insight on how the team plans to work through their struggles.

“The more comfortable we get playing basketball with each other, the better those numbers are going to get,” he said. “We have a nice break to relax and recharge, so any kind of fatigue that’s been carried around should be non-existent. Every guy has to be in the gym working on their game, which we will be. There will be a lot of shots taken on ‘the gun’ for the month of December.”

It might not have been the start that the Cougars had hoped for, but the team remains optimistic on their season. As a leader on the team, Hebert will continue to push the team forward until they are playing at the level they expect of each other.

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