The impressive rise and rise of Maritzburg College basketball

2014-02-18 00:00

IT is fair to say that basketball is a code in Maritzburg College’s impressive array of sports on offer that has not garnered the same kudos as the KZN capital institution’s Big Three of rugby, cricket and hockey, yet that status quo has changed due to the school first team’s elevation to the top of the table of South Africa’s best teams.

There was a firm belief that what this year’s side could achieve goes back to the first game of the fourth term last year, when the Stayers — those players who would still be at College this year — beat Durban High School 48-44. DHS had won the St John’s Festival, so were deemed to be the top basketball side in SA, a lofty position the Durban school have been very familiar with in recent years.

“Maritzburg College had not beaten DHS for 13 years,” the school’s head of basketball Jenny Orchard tells The Witness. “This was a great win, and the turning point for all basketball at College. The first side were unbeaten in the fourth term last year.

“Our second game this year was against DHS and under coach Arnold Moseya and the leadership of captain Siyathokoza “Shaq” Magubane and vice-captain Siphesihle “Siya” Buthelezi we beat them convincingly 90-67.

“Arnold, who headed the KZN Referees’ Association for years and has reffed in many tournaments in Africa, began developing this team in the 2011/2012 season by including a group of younger players, which was a bold yet far-sighted decision that has reaped its own rewards.

“Arnold is a great coach who has an incredible passion for the game, the boys and Maritzburg College — even though he is a Carter Old Boy!” Orchard said with a smile. “He knows how to deal with the players as individuals and is not afraid to seek advice from other coaches.”

It is immediately obvious that coach Moseya is a thoughtful, astute student of the game, a strategist of note.

“It has taken approximately two years to build this team,” says Moseya. “The majority of the players have been together since the U14 age group and I maintain that the success against DHS is the beginning of a successful era. Our lower teams are achieving good results. For example, the U16A side won the prestigious Michaelhouse Festival last month.”

Orchard says Moseya bases his coaching style on team effort — he sees every position having its equal, fundamental element in making the team successful.

“Arnold believes the best offensive play originates from good defence, thus he often focuses more on defence than offence at practice.

“Every player has a specific role and special attribute.

“The combination of that individual talent and tactical approach cements the strength in this team,” Orchards adds.

College’s basketball supremo says it is now more about how the boys react when it is game time. They not only play for themselves, but play for the badge printed on the left chest of their first team vest. All other distractions or flaws within them fade away when the importance of playing their best for the team is foremost in their minds.

Maritzburg College deputy headmaster, co-curricular activities, Graham Bennetts, attributes much of the school’s success on the basketball courts to one person.

“If ever there was a teacher who personifies the whole package, it is Jenny Orchard,” says Bennetts.

“She is incredibly passionate about her basketball — and her boys — and they return the enthusiasm of their maternal figure in abundance.

“Jenny has also been instrumental in the evolution of our facilities from humble outdoor courts in the far reaches of the Maritzburg College campus to our current international standard indoor courts. ‘Mother Orch’ has ensured that every detail has received her full attention — and it is this thoroughness and fervour that has contributed to the success of the basketball sports code at our school.”

Maritzburg College basketball, watch this space.

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