GUILDFORD â€” Since his return to coaching basketball five years ago, Murray McDonald has implemented a winning attitude in the development of the senior boys’ program at North Surrey Secondary.
However, the team’s success isn’t entirely based on its record or whether it wins the upcoming Surrey RCMP tournament. Rather, McDonald said it’s based on how the players approach each game, noting his game plan has stages in order to reach their lofty goals: Preparation, dedication and performance.
The goal remains the same every year, to punch a ticket to "the show" and to go on and win it, but the Spartans haven’t been to the provincials since 1999.
It seems like this could be the year for the Guildford school, which has been mentioned in The Province’s Big 10 rankings since the start of the season.
"A lot of people think that (we’re) very good. I think that we have a lot of holes in terms that we can be much better. I think we can be exceptional," said the coach.
But McDonald is very aware of how tough it is to be one of the top six teams at the Fraser Valley championships, having fallen just short of qualifying last year.
"To get there, out of the Fraser Valley, is mindnumbingly difficult," he said. "Tamanawis is really good, Holy Cross is really good, Walnut Grove is great, Terry Fox is great and Pitt Meadows is so well coached that they’re always going to be on the edge. You could have a provincial (tournament) out of Fraser Valley teams and really not be that far off."
The key difference McDonald has seen in the change from last year is how much deeper the Spartans roster is. Since the season has started, the coach said he has been able to rotate his entire team because every player is good enough to get playing time.
"It is pretty enjoyable to be able to throw out 16, 17 kids in rotation and have them succeed against good teams," added McDonald.
The Surrey RCMP Tournament begins on Jan. 11 and runs until Jan. 17. Details are at Surreybasketballclassic.com.