Creating winning mentality key to West Chicago's growth
WEST CHICAGO — Having just completed his first year as the head coach of the West Chicago boys basketball team, Bill Recchia feels the same way he did when he first took the job.
"I had a blast," said Recchia, who himself was a four-year basketball player at West Chicago. "I said at the beginning of the year and I still believe it, I am absolutely honored to have this position. To work with these young men and to watch them develop and be able to compete the way they did this year, it was a pleasure to be a part of it."
At first glance, the Wildcats' final record of 5-22 is disheartening. But a closer look reveals the team was competitive in most of their games and even had a stretch of three straight overtime losses early in the season.
"Realistically, we were probably three minutes of game time away from being close to a .500 team," the coach said. "The fact these young men battled the way they did and competed the way they did is a compliment to them.
"Our record was not an indication of how good a basketball team we were."
Getting over the hump in those close games is the next step in the building of a program and that takes a certain mindset.
"The thing that has to happen in any program," Recchia said, "is you first have to get the kids to believe; they have to get used to winning to know how to win. That's the next step and it starts at the lower levels. You have to expect to win games you are in. "
A major positive heading into next season is the return of John Konchar, who established himself as one of the top players in the area this winter. The junior led the team in points, rebounds and assists.
"John is going to continue to get better," the coach said, "and he is going to continue to work on his game. He made big strides from the beginning of the year to the end. And it will be exciting to see what strides he makes from now to the beginning of November."
Next winter will also bring in a major change as West Chicago is headed to the Upstate Eight Conference.
"It's fun going to new gyms and seeing different teams and different styles," Recchia said. "But the game of basketball is still the same. You have to do the same things right if you expect to win ball games."
Four players won't be a part of that new beginning. Ryan Weier, Jimmy Rizzo, Dean Pauly and Mike Zajac are set to graduate this year.
"I take my hat off to the seniors," Recchia added. "They could have folded it in and said, it's my last year but they didn't do that. I am certainly proud of the effort they put in from November to March."
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