Matsie revels in the TUT challenge

TUT are the new sherrifs in town

THE change from being a player to a coach was not easy to accept for Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) Tshepo Matsie, especially as he was still enjoying going toe-to-toe against his peers on the court.

Matsie, who is in his third year of coaching the TUT men’s basketball first team, says part of him still feels like having a run on the court, but his role as coach has given him a different outlook.

“To be honest, I still feel like suiting up and playing. But I had to look at coaching from a coach’s perspective and not that of a player. I have to let the guys play and help them where they need assistance. I will not lie, it was challenging at first, because I really wanted to play, but I reminded myself that I am now wearing different shoes,” said 36-year-old Matsie, last Thursday during his team practice at the Tshwane University of Technology.

Tshepo Matsie
TUT coach Tshepo Matsie has enjoyed passing knowledge to his players. Pictures: The Big Tip Off

The former Vaal University of Technology (VUT) student and player accepted the coaching role at TUT, knowing that the institution’s basketball program was not the strongest. But he has enjoyed the task of transforming it.

“I was looking for a challenge and a program that was not recognised. I got a call from Dumisani (Chauke), who I know very well. She asked me if I could coach the team despite me not having had coaching experience before,” said the former national team player. Matsie says he made up for his lack of experience by turning to the lessons passed on to him by former mentors, who taught him the finer points of the game.

“I knew with the fundamentals I received from coach Florsh (Ngwenya), coach (George) Makena and coach Andile (Hlophe), I could take on this job and teach the guys the same principles I learnt when I was coming up as a player,” said the former Tshwane Suns player.

The knowledge that Matsie is now passing to the current crop of TUT players has yielded positive results. In his second season in charge of the capital city-based institution, the Mamelodi-born coach led the TUT to a semi-final finish in last year’s University Sports South Africa (USSA) tournament.

Reflecting on that run to the final four of the USSAs, Matsie felt the tournament brought good fortune and bad luck as well.

“We had a score to settle against UKZN (University of KwaZulu-Natal), and we wanted to face them in the quarter-finals. Losing our first group game against Wits worked in our favour. We won our next group games and got the match-up we wanted in the knockout stages.

“When we met UKZN, we beat them, but then we met Wits in the semis, and we lost. In a different time and space, we could have won, but we lost a key player to injury… these things happen. We have learnt from it and moved on.”

Matsie, a two-time BNL champion with the Suns and a three-time USSA title winner, wants his team to return to the semi-final of the USSA’s in December at the University of the Witwatersrand.

He feels that some of his career success can rub off on the players and says that the current crop of TUT players are in a better position to thrive.

“I think these guys are doing much better than we did when I was a student-athlete. The reason being we had a lot of great players. So I am in a position to share my knowledge and experience on how to win and I can also see in their attitudes that they also want to be successful,” said Matsie. “They are curious and are always asking questions like ‘how do we become champions’, what do I do in this playing scenario’ and ‘can I come after practice to work on my skills’?

“We did not have that when I was at VUT. So, to see these guys do that makes me believe that we will improve on last year’s performance.”

 

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TUT head to the USSA tournament with bounce in their step after beating cross-town rival the University of Pretoria (Tuks) in the final of the Tshwane District League, two weeks ago. Matsie says his team, who are 6-0 against Tuks this year, are in a good place. The TUT coach intimated that his team is now the one that sits on the basketball throne in Pretoria.

“It was a huge moral booster (beating Tuks). The guys are thinking of winning every game from this point,” said Matsie. He also reflected on the three victories, achieved on the homecourt of their arch-enemies.

“There is a new sheriff in town. TUT rules Pretoria. We wanted to show everybody that the days when Tuks used to get the better of TUT are a thing of the past. TUT rules Pretoria and we are one of the top five teams in the country,” concluded Matsie.

Matsie’s has brought a renaissance to the TUT men’s program and the confidence he has in his team is warranted. With the USSA tournament around the corner, TUT will definitely be one of the teams to keep an eye out for and after exceeding expectations last year, the sky can only be the limit for them.

 

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