FOLLOWING a successful freshman season with the Winthrop Eagles, Sanctuary Point product Kyle Zunic is keen to make his second United States college basketball season one to remember.
Zunic, who collected the Big South Conference freshman of the week award on his way to helping his Eagles finish last season with 18-11 regular season record, now knows what is needed to excel on the US hardwood.
“During my first season, I learnt that you can’t get caught up on every mistake that you make, because if you do, you will go crazy by the end of the season,” Zunic said.
“Realising that I am going to make mistakes is a huge part because I can learn from those – now that I know it’s okay, it makes me play more freely and gives me the confidence to go out there and play as best as I can.”
To ensure he hits the ground running this season, Zunic said he has gave his all during a gruelling pre-season, which started a couple of months ago.
“Overall, I think we have had a great preseason as a team,” he said.
“The good thing about this time around is that I knew what to expect and I didn’t have to be nervous about what was going on during practice or thinking about anything else, other than just getting better.
“The team have really grown through this pre-season and we’re ready for the season to begin.
“From a personal point of view, the main part of my game that I’ve worked on is trying to play slower out there [on the court].
“I think it’s been a big thing for when it comes down to making decisions – slowing down will just give me that ability to make the right decisions and I feel that it will help my turnovers decrease this season.”
With the Eagles tipping-off their 2018/19 season on Wednesday against the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville, his coaches have given Zunic a specific role to play this year.
“The role I have is to be a glue guy this season,” he said.
“As a guy that played a fair few minutes last year, I am the guy that is trying to keep us together as much as possible when times get tough.
“I love that role because it allows me to be there for my teammates and I can’t wait to see how we deal with adversity as a team because I feel that that is where the best teams learn about themselves and what they really have to offer.”
Looking further down the track, Zunic and his Eagles are determined to return to the NCAA tournament, after just missing out last season.
“The big team goal is to win the Big South Conference and get to the NCAA tournament,” he said.
“But just getting better everyday is what our mindset has been right now because we don’t want to get so caught up in the results – we want to focus on the process because that’s where it all happens for a team.
“Personally, my goal is to do everything that the team needs me to do no matter what it is and make sure that we are all together no matter what we are going through.”