Thunderbirds Build Culture, Prepare for Upcoming Season

Published: October 19, 2016 | Author: Chanel Barnes | Read Time: 3 minutes

SUU Basketball TeamWith two weeks of official practice in the books and just over one week before season tips off, the Southern Utah men’s basketball team is ready and motivated to launch a new era of Thunderbird basketball.

The Thunderbird team includes five guys standing over 6’5” and six new faces, along with an entirely new coaching staff. With these factors, a new of basketball is destined to unfold in the coming months of Thunderbird basketball.

“The look and appearance of the team is significantly different. We’re really trying to really establish a new direction,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “Fans will see a blue collar team. We’re going to be tough, and the community will definitely see and feel that. We’ll play an entertaining brand of basketball.”

Along with chalking up wins this season, one of the biggest focuses—if not the biggest focus—is building a strong culture.

“Over everything, we’re making sure that our culture is strong and that we have an identity in terms of our attitude, effort, energy level, and passion,” said Simon. “Our overall philosophy is ‘defend, rebound, and run.’ We’ll manufacture points through our talent and our scheme, but we want to be a defend-rebound-run team fueled with toughness.”

Considering all the new faces surrounding the Thunderbird program, the team is meshing together at a smooth, but rapid pace.

“The team chemistry is phenomenal. Another major philosophy we have is that we recruit people. We’re not recruiting players, we’re recruiting people. We want to make sure that the people in this organization are people that will have that competitive mentality and do the right things,” said Simon. “Our locker room is strong. They’re playing for each other.”

The Thunderbirds received 12th place rankings in both the Big Sky Conference coaches’ and media polls. For the Thunderbird family, the last-place rankings just fuels the fire.

“We control what we can control. Not one person that has voted in these polls has probably seen anybody. We only have essentially four guys that played minutes returning, so they have no idea who a number of us are or what our philosophies are,” said Simon. “That stuff is completely irrelevant. I love it. Anything that can add more fuel to a very hungry group already certainly brings a smile to our faces.”

The first opportunity to catch the Thunderbirds in action is Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Centrum Arena at the Thunderbird Throwdown. The Throwdown includes a chance for Thunderbird fans to meet the men’s and women’s teams, watch dunk and 3-point contests, and catch the Thunderbirds in action with a red and white scrimmage.

“It’s an exciting event for the fans to come and see us play. There’s a buzz around town, and this gives the community a chance to come and see,” said Simon. “Hopefully we can get the student body to come out and support men’s and women’s basketball. Both programs are on the rise, and I think they’ll like what they see.”

The SUU season tips off in Cedar City on Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. as the Thunderbirds host Master’s College in an exhibition match-up.

To stay up to date with Thunderbird basketball, follow @SUUBasketball on Twitter and Instagram along with liking SUU Basketball on Facebook.

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