FLORENCE — “Leave it all on the floor.”
Almost every coach has motivated their team with this reminder, but the Buffaloes have taken the words to heart and put it to action in every game.
The players can often be found chasing defenders, fighting for steals and going as far as crashing into the bleachers for a save on the sideline.
“We all just love the game,” Florence junior guard Derrick LaBounty said.
The young Buffaloes are also motivated to leave it all on the floor from head coach Danny Wood.
“Coach just preaches it,” LaBounty said, “so that’s what we do.”
With just four returning players from last season, the other seven Buffaloes are adjusting to the speed of varsity basketball, but they’re not hesitant to playing physical.
“All of us really want to win,” senior Kelby Vaughn said. “We want to do everything better.
“We tell each other we can do it together, and the steals really just hype everybody up to be more physical in the game.”
Christian Broekhuizen is undersized compared to most athletes who play in the post, but he is willing to dive onto the floor for a loose ball or crash into an opponent.
“I’m not the biggest guy,” Broekhuizen said, “so I really have to work for my position on the court. We’ve got big Jacob Trussell and Carlos Lopez, and they are both pretty tall dudes that both know how to play my position.
“So, I have to get on the ground and work for my playing time.”
Broekhuizen may not be as tall as the 6-foot, 6-inch Trussell, but being an undersized post player allowed him to sneak by defenders under the rim for an open pass.
“In practice,” Broekhuizen said, “we do a lot of drills and having to go up against all our other post players helps me out whenever we have to go against bigger guys in a game.
“It just kind of comes if you keep working on it.”
Although leaving it all on the court may lead to some foul trouble for Florence (5-6), it never deters them from being aggressive.
“The energy of the team,” said LaBounty of the best part of playing for the Buffs. “Even when we’re getting fouls, we’re still in the game.”
There is still room to grow, though.
“The biggest improvements by far are breaking the press, dribbling down the court and getting the open looks,” Vaughn said. “We’ve got a 6-foot-6 center, so getting him the ball and finding ways to get him the ball in order to get points on the board is the biggest thing we can do.”
“We could also improve our defense and make sure that we keep the ball in our possession for less turnovers,” he said.
With a goal of making the playoffs, the Buffaloes know they have to continue to leave it all on the floor every game.
“Just keep playing through it,” Broekhuizen said after Florence went 1-2 in its home tournament last weekend. “Work hard, and eventually, our time will come.”