New coach brings in strong rookies
After an injury-filled season last year, the SAIT Trojans men’s basketball team is getting ready for a promising year ahead.
“Last year was a very challenging year,” said head coach Marty Birky.
“We had seven guys injured. I’ve never experienced anything like that before, and this is a tough league.
“When you’re missing seven guys, you’re cannon fodder.”
Though Birky and his coaching staff have been busy recruiting new players in hopes of creating a Trojans team that can compete at nationals, much of this recruiting was done by new assistant coach, Zach Alger.
“A lot of the new guys are because of him; he brings a competitive spirit.”
“Thirteen new players, a reloaded team,” said Birky
One player, in particular, John Smith, had been recruited from The United States and is expected to be a great asset to the team.
“Smith, from Lacey, WA., will probably be one of the best players in the league, if not the best. He’s been playing in a lot of tournaments in the area, a basketball hotbed.”
Birky also mentioned Murphy Beya, a recruit from Ottawa, who he believes will be a key player on the team, and Dathon Spencer, a talented returning player.
This will be Birky’s third season coaching the men’s basketball team, and he continues to bring a competitive edge as well as expertise in player development and overall game strategy.
Birky spent his college career playing for Montana State in Billings, MT. and Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., after which, he began to pursue a career in coaching.
“I started my career where I played at Montana State,” said Birky.
“I had my first coaching job there. My wife was on the soccer team and she’s from Calgary. That’s eventually how we got here.”
In between coaching in Montana and where he is today, Birky has gained valuable experience in California and Las Vegas.
California’s Imperial Valley College had Birky on the coaching staff, and he was a player development specialist at an NBA training facility in Las Vegas, called Impact Basketball, said Birky.
Impact Basketball has been home to many NBA stars, including 2004 MVP Kevin Garnett and the Toronto Raptors’ own Kyle Lowry.
“This is the most talented group I’ve ever had,” said Birky, referring to this year’s Trojans squad.
“If we get through the league, which is very tough, we’ll get through to the national tournament.”
The SAIT Trojans began their season on Oct. 29 against the Briercrest College Clippers, and will have their home opener on Friday, Nov. 11 against the Red Deer College Kings.