Boys basketball coach believes 2017-18 season will be different

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

While it is no secret the team has seen their fair share of struggles the last several seasons, Berthoud High School boys basketball coach, Mike Burkett, is optimistic on team’s chances this winter. Burkett, who is entering his third season leading the program, believes he has in place the system he wants to run and, more importantly, the players to run it.

“The first couple years we’ve tried to teach mentality … it’s been teaching the kids grit, basketball is a game of runs, someone is going to make a run, and you have to hike your pants back up and make a run of your own,” Burkett said Tuesday evening. “That’s the message we want the guys to absorb and I think they are.”

Burkett explained he has a core of student athletes whose primary sport is basketball, and that group put in the effort and work throughout the offseason programs to prepare for this season. “It’s the first summer we’ve had where we could work on basketball all summer long. We had scheduled workouts with an idea of what we wanted to do, we were committed to basketball and could focus on the skills and what we needed to develop,” Burkett said.

Several key players return, including captains Curtis Peacock, Wyatt Stratmeyer and Jake Yuska, as well as Trinity Buckley, Ben Burkett and J.T. Lozinski. Burkett called his three team captains “tremendous leaders, and said “because of those three, we don’t have to worry about teaching mentality anymore.”

Berthoud hit the books, literally, to prepare for the season. Burkett had the team read “Toughness: Developing Truth Strength On and Off the Court,” by ESPN basketball reporter Jay Bilas to prepare for the season. Burkett explained the message the book will impart to the team is all about developing mental toughness. “It’s about basketball toughness; toughness is being accountable, playing for your teammates, it’s a guy who shows up on time, works his butt off, pushes himself and his teammates to be better,” Burkett said.

The Spartans, as has been the case for the program for much of its history, will not have a size advantage in most of their games. It is not something that worries Burkett, as he says the speed and athleticism his squad possesses will offer its own advantages. Berthoud will spread the floor more this season and play at a faster tempo. Burkett said one of the team’s goals is to possess the ball 80 or more times per game. “We have to use our speed, we have to use our quickness, if we do that and we hit our shots, I think we can surprise some people.”

Said Burkett, “I really kind of like where we are from a mental standpoint. I don’t think we get beat because we back away from anything. If we play the way we’re capable of playing, keep our mental sharpness, I don’t see any way why we’re not in the top half of the conference.”

Berthoud will open the season in the three-game Vista Peak tournament before coming home to host the annual Spartan Classic beginning on Dec. 6.

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