The Saskatchewan Rattlers are back in action Friday night when they host the Guelph Nighthawks, in what will be just their second game back with fans in the stands.
It will also, hopefully, mark the team’s first win of the year and the first in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) for their new head coach.
Conor Dow took over the head coaching role just two games ago, after Chad Jacobson stepped down.
“I’m not going lie to you, the first day it was a little daunting because the guys didn’t know what to make of it. And now we’ve had two good days of practice this week. I would say the buy-in level is at an all-time high right now,” he said.
The CEBL is a development league for many players to move forward with their professional basketball careers, but it’s for coaches as well. Dow, who has coaching experience in the NBA’s G League, feels very fortunate to have been given the reigns as the head coach.
“I’ve been the guy handing the board to the coach in the G League and NCAA levels so it’s good to have the board handed to me and to practice all these plays and defensive sets, and (after time outs) that I have been chopping up on film the last seven years,” Dow said.
“Even when you’re shooting 19 per cent from the three, he’s still telling you to shoot the ball eight times a game. What coach will tell you that and still believes in you? So he is an encouraging coach and he’s trying to bring the best out of us,” Rattlers forward Travis Daniels said.
Under their new head coach, the Rattlers look to turn this 14-game season around in the second half after starting 0-7.
“We are blessed and grateful to be in professional basketball. We are blessed and grateful to wear the Saskatchewan Rattlers jersey. And not just represent the local community but to represent the whole province,” Dow said.
“So once we did that and took into account that we need to have fun at practice that’s when we flipped the switch and really changed the mood of the team.”
The Rattlers host the Nighthawks at 7 p.m. on Friday night at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.