Stephen Cox is taking an atypical approach heading into the first round of the Sun Conference Tournament on Saturday.
The Thomas basketball coach said ‘special teams’ will be the determining factor.
“Even though that’s more of a football term, we use it in basketball for special situations,” Cox said. “I call that baseline inbalance, sideline inbalance, free throws, coming out of timeouts.
“Smart and sound basketball will help you survive and advance.”
Fourth-seeded Thomas takes on No. 5 Embry Riddle on Saturday. These teams split the regular season series in favor of the home team, including the Night Hawks’ 96-74 win over the Eagles on Feb. 6.
Cox has confidence going on the road despite falling to Embry-Riddle, 78-72, on Jan. 9.
“At their place, we really played with them,” he said. “The guys really came to play; they were into it, they were engaged and really did a good job in prepartion. Throughout the game, I think it played in our favor. Down the stretch we made a couple mistakes, but I think we’ve learned from those, and I don’t think those mistakes will be made again.”
Thomas suffered a devastating defeat in Monday’s 87-85 regular season finale against Northwood, though Cox said the team’s mentality is back on track heading into ‘March Madness.’
“There were a couple of adjustments we could’ve made from the coaching staff and a few from the players,” Cox said. “All I ever ask of the guys, to just play as hard as you can at the highest level and give us a fighting chance at the end. Fortunately, this season we’ve won more than we’ve lost.”
Saturday’s winner will take on the St. Thomas-Ave Maria winner. Thomas went 1-3 against those teams this season.
The Night Hawks still have a chance to host a conference tournament game, but only if the top four seeds lose.
“That’d be pretty cool to be able to come back to Thomasville,” Cox said.