Central Arkansas Christian’s Mustangs went 0-3 in the Berryville holiday tournament, but coach Bradley Spencer found a positive spin with which to start 2018.
“One thing we found out is we’ve got a lot of room to improve,” he said Sunday. “There are a lot of things we can do to make us better. We got to see a lot of things that can help us out for the future.”
CAC dropped to 4-11 for the season after losses to Berryville, 72-50; Valley Springs, 57-48; and Bergman, 59-56.
Berryville led the Mustangs after one quarter, 20-11; and at halftime, 38-22. The Mustangs got a bit back in the third to pull within 50-40 before the Bearcats pushed the final margin to 22 points.
Going in, Spencer had said he looked forward to some new competition for his team.
“I don’t know if the right word is ‘complacent,’ but you get used to playing the same type of competition every year, and when you know the team you’re about to play because you play them every year, I think that makes it a little easier,” he said. “But when you’ve got to go out and play somebody else, you’ve got to make sure you’re doing things right.
“Basketball is universal, and I’m a firm believer in doing things correctly — it doesn’t matter who your opponent is. We got to see some areas we need to improve in, and that’s a positive.”
So what are some of those areas?
“The most important thing on the defensive end is you’ve got to know who you’re defending, and when the shot goes up, you’ve got to have a one-shot-and-done mentality,” Spencer said. “You can’t give up second chances. If a team gets three or four attempts, that’s going to hurt you. We have to improve defensively, and when you force the tough shot, you’ve got to get the rebound. That’s a must. You have to want to go get the rebound. You have to make contact and block out.
“Another thing is to have the ability to score, and for multiple people to put the ball in the hole, knowing where we need to be, skill-wise, as a full team rather than one or two guys you depend on all the time.”
The Mustangs will need to focus on those things when they resume regular-season play at Pulaski Robinson (6-7 at press time) on Friday.
“They have athletes, and defense and rebounding is going to be key,” Spencer said. “We hope we learned that from the tournament. It won’t happen overnight, but moving forward we hope to continue to see steady progress in the right direction.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Mustangs will visit Baptist Prep, the defending Class 4A state champion.
“They’re the defending state champion for a reason, and we have to put together a great game if we want to beat the giant,” Spencer said. “I’m sure they know they’ve got a target on their back. Everybody wants to beat them, knowing if you want to be the best, you’ve got to compete with the best.”