It’s hard to find a hotter team in college basketball in the state of Tennessee than the Lane Dragons right now.
Since Jan. 14, Lane is 9-1. The win at Spring Hill that started the run broke a four-game losing streak and ended a run in which the Dragons lost seven of eight.
Dragons head coach Andre Turner said he attributes the wins to the energy of one player helping motivate everyone else on the team to lift their individual games.
“One person has been extremely intricate with Rodarious Washington does everything for us – defense, scraps for the ball, offensive rebounds and putbacks,” Turner said. “You need that energy helping everybody, and it makes a difference.”
Washington was ineligible in the first half of the season but was able to get back to playing once this semester started.
He and fellow Dragon senior Justin Sylver said they’re glad to be a part of this run and plan to keep the winning going in the upcoming Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament at the end of the month.
“It was frustrating not being able to be out there with my guys, but I had to bring my best to practice every day to help them get better,” Washington said.
Sylver said it’s good to have Washington back on the court during games too.
“We missed his presence and his voice during timeouts because he’s the heart of the team that we ride off his energy,” Sylver said.
In addition to the abilities Washington brings to the team, Sylver said every player has done his job in getting the team better.
“Every problem that we were dealing with last year and in the first half of this season was simple to fix,” Sylver said. “During the break we had time off and got our heads right and came back locked in.
“The extra work we’ve been putting in for a month has made a change and everyone knows their role.”
Washington said the key is to get better individually and as a team each day.
“It’s just come together as a team and work on what we’re not as good at as we can be,” Washington said. “And then we all put our pride aside for the team and do what we need to do to get the W.”
While it may appear as the team is peaking in time for the tournament, Turner said it wasn’t his intention as the coach to necessarily get them peaking at the end of the season as much as it being his mission to improve the team every day.
“As a coach, you try to get better every day, so timing a ‘peak’ is impossible,” Turner said. “You want to get better all the time and win every game. The challenge to those guys is finding something we’re lacking in and clean that up.
“And they’ve responded well all season to those challenges, and I think we’re starting to see the benefits of that and hopefully we’ll continue to see that.”
The Dragons have this week off and will finish the regular season with a game at Miles College on Feb. 20.
Brandon Shields, email@example.com