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  • Harrisburg native and John A. Logan men's basketball head coach Kyle Smithpeters gives out instruction while working with Marion's Jackson Connor during a recent practice at John A. Logan College in Carterville.

    Harrisburg native and John A. Logan men's basketball head coach Kyle Smithpeters gives out instruction while working with Marion's Jackson Connor during a recent practice at John A. Logan College in Carterville.
    SPYDER DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 10/30/2020 5:23 PM

Kyle Smithpeters looks at his watch, he looks at his calendar and yet everything seems to stand still.
That's the world Smithpeters lives in right now as the John A. Logan men's basketball coach and the former Harrisburg all-state athlete prepares his squad for a season that won't start until after the new year.
The season and home opener with Three Rivers Community College will be on January 28th. In the meantime may become Smithpeters' greatest task as a head coach and has nothing to do with X's and O's.
"Mentality is the most important thing," he said. "Mentally, we have to keep them excited. It's so easy as a coach to over-coach kids. That's not what you want to do, you want to keep them excited. These kids are here because they want to be here and they want to be good at basketball."
"Good at basketball" is not where Smithpeters' shortage is at. However, keeping his guys motivated and excited has the coach in the kitchen looking for a recipe that works.
"We'll challenge them, but also as a coach you want to make sure you don't lose that spark. It's a long season, the longest season in the history of college basketball. You can definitely overdo it in the beginning and lose them at the end. Which I think we've been very good at in the years at Logan of being in our peak shape and peak mentality going into March.
"That's what we're really trying to do pushing forward and trying to find that perfect recipe to make sure we're ready mentally and I've think we've done a very good job thus far of keeping guys motivated but keeping them fresh."
In past year's, even with a regular season schedule, Smithpeters has treated his team to trips to the movie theater, bowling, a home run derby with the softball team and a friendly game of nerf-gun and capture the flag.
With the new schedule starting in January and not ending until April, Smithpeters admits to having to find new ways to keep the carrot dangling in front of them, in a season which he believes can be just as good -- if not better -- than last year's 28-5 team.
"We have a lot of time until we play and that's fine," he said. "This has been good for us as a new team and to get to know each other and get better in the skill department. Like I said, the longest season in the history of college basketball. We'll have to find a way to keep guys motivated and keep that carrot in front of them dangling. We've been really focusing on the individual side of things. Get your game better. We'll get better as a team but get your game better so when we do the team stuff, we'll be a really good team."

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.