COVINGTON - The Newton boys basketball team is making all the right moves and changes for its 2009-10 season after going a perfect 20-0 during summer tournaments.
"Our success this summer is the benefit of the hard work and preparation our players put in before we went to camp. We have an idea of what kind of a team we will have next fall, but this is not the final product, either. We have a lot more work to put in to emulate this kind of success during the regular season," said Newton coach Rick Rasmussen. "Obviously, we certainly have a lot of potential for success next season, but this summer doesn't guarantee anything. In order to have success during the regular season and particularly during tournament time in February, we'll have to keep working to improve and make adjustments. We can't rest on our laurels if we want to fulfill our potential."
While Rasmussen is aware that some of the competition he will face during region play and the state playoffs will be more difficult in many instances, the Rams did post wins this summer over quality programs such as Brookwood, East Rutherford (N.C.) and Asheville (N.C.) Christian.
"We'll be playing much tougher competition night in and night out in our region, so, although this summer was great, we still have a lot of work to do to get where we want to go," he said. "We know that surviving the region tournament and qualifying for state in AAAAA is no easy task, regardless of how talented a team you have."
Rasmussen likes tournaments because it is a way to have different players on the court at the same time in games with no meaning.
Some of the tournaments the Rams will participate in during the regular season include the Tennessee Hoops Classic in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where they are defending champions, during Thanksgiving and the PowerAde Festival at North Gwinnett during the Christmas break.
Not only does he like to use these tournaments as a learning situation for the team, he also uses them as a learning situation for his players when they are not in the spotlight.
"We want to treat those tournaments as practice for the region and state tournament at the end of the year. We will keep working to get better as the season progresses so that we'll be ready at tournament time," Rasmussen said. "At the same time, however, our players also know that how they conduct themselves in the classroom and outside of basketball is even more important. Representing our families, our school and our community off the court is even more important than our success on the court.
"Our players are preparing for success in life, not just basketball. Our goal is to help our players mature and grow into positive and productive young men who further their educations and have a chance to play basketball in college."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.