Newfoundland-born Sea-Hawks' rookie working on improving his game
Timo Sargent, like most of his teammates, has struggled at times this season but the Memorial Sea-Hawks rookie has earned more playing time in the second half of the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) season.
"I wasn't happy with my play at first," Sargent admitted. "But I've made adjustments.
A difference, he says, between high school and CIS level play is the players are bigger and faster, "but, for me, it was just a matter of building confidence. I felt a lot better half way through the season."
Sargent, who is listed as being from Kamloops, B.C., has a connection to this province.
Sargent's mother, Wendy Kipnis, swam for MUN varsity and he was born in St. John's before the family returned to British Columbia when he was two years old.
He's been back for visits in recent years and met MUN coach Peter Benoite in May when he still hadn't decided on coming to Memorial University.
The first-year business student said his mother was somewhat of an influence on his decision to come to MUN "I guess," but mainly it was for the basketball and "I liked the idea of a new experience moving away."
Asked what he needs to work on the six-foot guard replied with a smile: "My size, my athleticism, my shooting ...all sorts of stuff."
His coach agrees.
"Timo played well for us before Christmas when we put him in the game against UPEI," noted MUN coach Peter Benoite.
"We were having trouble with their zone defense and he did a good job of penetrating the zone and finding guys. That's something we were missing, and since then we've been set on playing him more."
Sargent wasn't able to make the Christmas tournament in Toronto, so that set him back a bit, according to Benoite, and he didn't get a chance to play until the Cape Breton weekend (Jan. 14, 15) where he responded with 17 points 11 rebounds and seven assists in the two games.
"We decided to start him because we were not getting enough out of some of our starters and we were hoping he would bring another dimension to how we played," explained Benoite. "He played pretty well and showed that he can compete at this level.
"He has good court vision and understands how to attract a defender to get another guy open," Benoite noted.
There's more work to be done, certainly.
"He needs to work on his shot and needs to not over penetrate," said Benoite, "something he was successful with in high school, but the bodies are bigger and more athletic at this level. He also needs to be able to hit the pull up jumper.
"He works hard on defense, but needs to work on his lateral quickness and he'll help himself more. The good thing is he plays with confidence and doesn't mind playing aggressive. With his work ethic I can see him improving and developing into a solid guard at this level."
Benoite points out Sargent is a good student.
"He came in with a very high average and is maintaining solid marks through the first semester. That's a direction we are heading in as a team as we need to get good students to ensure they can be around for multiple years and we can make use of their development.
Benoite said the team has the potential for four or five academic All Canadians this year. "I think once we take care of the academic side of things, the basketball side will follow."
Despite the team's record (1-13, last place), Sargent maintains there's still a positive attitude among the players.
"Guys are excited to play. We want to build for next year," he said. "I don't think the guys are down. Yeah, it bothers us (to lose), but we're staying positive."
The Sea-Hawks take on Saint Mary's Huskies (5-9) this weekend in Halifax and Benoite believe his team has a shot at picking up its first road win of the season.
"We've been able to compete with them in recent years. Their style of play matches ours," said Benoite who added,
"SMU is a strange team. They can beat anyone and the can lose to anyone."
Benoite, who has complained about his team's effort all season said he was pretty pleased with the effort in their last two games against UPEI Panthers and he hopes that work ethic carries over to this weekend.
Meanwhile, Memorial Sea-Hawks women's basketball team (8-6) also plays at SMU (10-5) this weekend in a pair of games.