Taking some time to reflect on a successful season, MIke Turchi was not about to rest on his laurels.
Sure, the Lincoln head girls basketball coach had plenty to be happy about after an 11-5 season and a trip to the Class AAAA semifinals, where the Railsplitters lost by 23 to Central. Led by explosive scoring senior guards Tyshell Jessie and Aaliyah Thurman, Lincoln won a playoff game, as well as seven of its final nine games.
But Turchi is not interested in a regression without his two players next season, that much is certain.
“We had a very good season as far as wins and losses go,” he said. “Overall I’m happy that we had two captains who could score as our leaders, and I’m so happy how we came together in the second half … but I think we could have played better.”
While Lincoln did win more than it lost, the Railsplitters went 0-4 against Central, Northeast and Franklin Towne Charter, the other Class AAAA semifinalists. Turchi is hoping that promising junior forward Kellicia “Kelli” Brown takes the reins from Jessie and Thurman as a leader next season, and that a promising freshman such as Karla Williams, who got playing time this season, steps up to complement Brown.
That, Turchi maintained, will only happen with offseason dedication.
“They have to get involved in clinics or start playing with AAU teams in the summer,” he said. “I have some resources for them, but they have to be willing to make an effort into playing all year round. It’s not just, oh, we play during the season, then we drop it. That hurts development. They need to see a basketball outside of gym class or at a rec center. I think we need to pay more attention to technical skills, ball skills, jumping, rebounding, strength, just everything that goes into offseason conditioning.”
Another thing Turchi hopes challenges his returning players is realignment within the Public League. He said that recently the head coaches of the league got together and voted to align divisions how they are on the boys side, with the strongest-quality programs competing in the top division. That, Turchi said, will eliminate more cupcakes from the schedule and allow his team to never take a game off, no matter the opposition.
“All of the coaches agree in that they want the girls getting better so that they can prepare for college,” he said. “The way to do that is to see the best competition our league has to offer. Blowing out teams, that doesn’t help our girls. We want to play the best so that hopefully we can become the best.”