MAITLAND Mustangs coach Luke Boyle knows that Central Coast swingman and hired gun Mitch Rueter is going to get shots up.
He simple wants his defence to make life as difficult as possible for their former leading scorer - Maitland's chances of an elusive Waratah Basketball League championship could hinge on it.
Maitland meet the Crusaders in the semi-final at Terrigal on Saturday night. A win would secure a final berth against either Manly or Norths on Sunday afternoon.
Rueter called Maitland home for six seasons and was the league's most valuable player in 2012.
Now in his third year on the Central Coast, the streak shooter averages 19 points a game, second only in the league to Sydney's Indiana Faithful (21).
"If we can limit his attempts, at least make the shots more difficult, that is what it comes down," Boyle said. "He is definitely a key part to their team. You can see from a statistical view: if you limit his attempts or make them more difficult, they usually don't perform that well. They ride off his momentum big time."
Mustangs import Isaiah Ellis was this week named the best defensive man in the league.
However, most of his work is down around the ring, highlighted by his six blocked shots in the 108-81 win over the Sydney Comets in the elimination semi-final.
"We will run a few different match ups at Mitch throughout the night," Boyle said. "We don't have Josh Clifford for the semi. He is our key defender in that position but he is best man at a wedding. He will be available Sunday if we get through."
As well as guard the paint, Ellis leads the league in offensive rebounds and is one of three Maitland players alongside American born-guard Terrell Turner and Daniel Milburn averaging 16 points a game.
"The thing that has worked for us all year is that we have played pretty deep into our bench," Boyle said. "Against Sydney, it was a spread of four or five players in double figures. Kids like Dan Milburn have thrived. We have taken it a lot more serious this year. We started earlier, the boys have worked hard and it has paid off. We have two guys in the top 10 of most major stat categories. If the opposition stops one, there is still another. In the past we were one dimensional."
Clifford and Jason Duerden are the only survivors from the Mustangs' last trip to the final.
"It has been a long time between drinks, nine years or something," Boyle said.
"Butch Hays had a three-pointer to win it and it rimmed out. The best thing about this team is that they are all local kids who have come through our junior program. That helps with the culture of the team when they all hang out together.
"Even Terrell, he is a permanent resident now and has been here for seven years. He has been involved with the program as long as anyone."