Staying humble key for TMU men’s basketball

The TMU men's basketball team poses for a photo after beating Westmont in the GSAC title game in Phoenix on Monday. Courtesy photo

After winning his second Golden State Athletic Conference title in as many years, The Master’s University men’s basketball coach Kelvin Starr has every right to brag.

But that wouldn’t be fitting for the theme for this year’s team.

“We talk a lot about staying humble,” Starr said. “…Last year was dramatic. This year was more like, ‘Okay, we’re meant to be here and this is what we’re meant to do.’”

The Mustangs took down Westmont 88-73 in the GSAC tournament final on Monday in Phoenix, Ariz.

Lawrence Russell led TMU with a well-rounded performance of 16 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists.

Starr emphasized that Russell leads the team in terms of intangibles, too.

“He’s just good,” said Starr. “He knows how to run. He leads by example and plays as hard as anybody. He’s especially a leader on the defensive end.”

Brock Gardner logged a double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds.

The Mustangs were competing without Hansel Atencia, who has a slight MCL tear, but the team is expecting to have him back for the national tournament.

Nevertheless, Master’s mounted a 32-26 lead at halftime. As the final minute of play ticked away, the early lead allowed Starr and his team a sigh of relief.

In regards to the program’s quick turnaround, Starr knows exactly how to define the success.

“It’s all about the chemistry,” he said. “We just get along so well and it’s enjoyable. It’s a fun group. You have to have it first in order to win. Having the chemistry is kind of a cool thing. It’s fun to practice. It’s fun to go to work.”

The brackets for the NAIA national tournament will be announced today at 4 p.m.

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