ALL finals series, Ballarat Rush coach Peter Cunningham has kept his demands clear and simple – compete and be aggressive.
Cunningham knows when his players relax into their natural games, they are potent.
He can make adjustments when needed, but generally they get it right.
Compete and be aggressive is all Cunningham is asking of his players tonight in a South East Australian Basketball League women’s south conference title match against powerhouse Knox.
“We’ve proven we deserve to be there,” Cunningham said.
“Knox and Bendigo have been the clear benchmarks all season.
“Now, it’s up to us to see where we sit against the best.”
Cunningham pulled up players about four minutes into their preliminary final against Hobart last week, calling a time-out to remind them to stick to the formula.
When Auslec Rush settled, they tore Hobart completely apart.
Again, Rush enters this final as underdogs.
It is a tag Rush has worn all play-offs series and it has not fazed players in the slightest.
Knox Raiders coach Cheryl Chambers says an underdog is under as much pressure as the favourite in a title match.
Cunningham agreed – if the underdogs did not start well.
“I say to the players, the biggest competition you have is yourself,” Cunningham said.
“If you don’t start well as an underdog, you can lack confidence to work back in.
“If you’re favourite and start slow, you know you can do it, you know it will come and know you just need to hang around until it clicks.
“Our players never stop fighting and will soon know whether we’re good enough.”
Rush stuck to its routine of a light, fun training run on Tuesday and sharp, tactical session on Thursday.
Cunningham lets players run their own warm-up, similar to a pre-game drill, then the time for talk was over.
Rush knows it must take advantage of every circumstance.
Executing one per centers is vital.
Rush has got this far – now it is time to see how far Ballarat Rush can go.