The most effective player on the court is not always amongst your starting five!
Darcy Locke is proof of this in season 2021 for the NE Bushrangers. Having commenced with Bushies in 2014, he has see-sawed between the Big V and SEABL over the past 5 years in differing roles. Having sustained a significant shoulder injury in 2016, Locke’s playing career was disrupted, but he returned this season to add depth, strength and experience to the new Bushies’ lineup under Head Coach, Hayden Annett.
Darcy Locke (BV League photographer)
Finding ‘his place’ in that lineup took a few weeks but he is now quite often the spark that can ignite the fire in the Bushies’ belly! Coming into the program just before the season kicked off presented some small obstacles, and Locke reflects that it was a challenge, “There were guys I had never played with before and there were some pretty well-established relationships formed from having played with each other in their respective associations.” But he has now found his niche as an essential team member.
Don’t expect that you’re always going to see him in the starting line-up! Locke regularly starts on the bench as one of the first subs into the game, of course that is dependent on the opposition, and the game plan under the direction from Coach Annett. But it is from this position that Locke appears to be most effective!
He has a mature and experienced mindset going into games, and he shares that his “thought process is always around completing the 1% things like finding a body and being physical on the court. It is also important to me that I aid in creating opportunities for my teammates to get rebounds, assists and points. By doing this, I rarely find myself overwhelmed by the many things that sometimes I have no control over in a game, like how many points I will score etc.”
With a clear team goal in sight to make a maiden finals berth (which has now been disrupted due to a 6th Covid lockdown), Locke feels the team has settled into a consistent overall performance and efficiency that comes with familiarity and hard work.
Locke’s overall intensity and accuracy in offense is paramount to the team’s success, and while across the season, he’s averaging just 20 minutes of court time each week, his shooting percentage is an impressive 52.46% for his 10.92 points per game. But when looking at his more recent contributions, he has pocketed an average of 15.5 points per game over the last six rounds. When asked how he maintains his consistency, Locke stated, “My shooting percentage has only been so good because of the types of shots I’m taking. By doing the work in the background on the floor like getting up and down the court and hitting my spots, I’m finding myself open. Sometimes it’s important to take a leap and put some of the responsibility on your own back but when you’ve got some guys that have a role on the team as scorers, it’s balancing it out and stepping up where required.”
His tip for those budding bench warmers down the track, is to take a step back, reflect on what they do well and then slot that into the team’s plan. He’s well-grounded and reflected that, “Everyone would love to be the guy that scores 30+ a night but the reality is that there is maybe one guy that can do that in a team and the guys putting in the work around him, they are the ones getting him those points.”
But for Locke, who has been a consistent lead scorer across many of our games this season, playing his role has garnered the benefits for him as an individual as well as the team as they make a late surge for finals (Covid permitting). He added, “The best players, no matter their role, back themselves 100% to do what they need to do.”
As the 2021 season draws to its end, it’s also a time for the Club to be considering the recruitment process for 2022. Locke’s success outlines the need for depth and skill diversity within a team, and players should not be deterred from trying out for that higher level competition just because they won’t necessarily be in the starting line-up!