When Turlock High girls basketball head coach Mark Musselman took over a struggling program last year, the Bulldogs had not made the postseason since the 2010-11 season, but now with an official offseason it looks like the right moves were made and things look as bright as ever.
Musselman not only was able to implement an offseason regiment and schedule, but the time he was given, finally allowed him an opportunity to bring in some key assistants to help in the revitalization of the program.
Mike Staack was named the new assistant head coach and a summer program was created for the team in order to follow a structured routine that would prepare the young ‘Dogs for a new program.
“The program hasn't been where it was before until Mark got here,” said Staack.
“The girls will be better because they put the work in. They have worked hard all summer,” said Musselman. “The girls understood that we will be here and it will not be a one and done thing and it’s the girls making most of the difference already early on.”
Already, the girls are off to a better start than last year, especially after beating Oakdale 56-53 in the season opener on Tuesday where nine of the teams 11 players scored at least once.
After losing 24 games last year and 59 in the previous three seasons, the Bulldogs have not had a winning season since the 2010-11 year when the team also won their last playoff game, but that is in the past.
With Musselman and the help of Staack this team looks like it is destined for success in the second year at the helm for Musselman.
“With the commitment from the girls, the buying in, the stability that Mike and our staff have provided, overall, we will be competitive this year,” said Musselman. “Things are looking up, were heading in the right direction. We are just trying to get a solid foundation for the girls and to have a program.”
Things will only get tougher as the year moves on, but with the help of a very talented team that returns two key sophomores who played as freshman (Mary Oliveira and Shea Glasgow Williams) and the addition of a transfer from Central Catholic — Caitlyn Duval — the team’s immediate future looks bright.
“It’s a different atmosphere in the gym this year. We are more committed to playing defense,” Musselman said. “We got a fabulous group of girls and they all play. We just provide a structure, but the girls are the ones who put in all the work.”
Although there will be standouts for the team it will be difficult to point out just a few in particular as the entire team looks to be stronger and the bench is also much deeper than last season.
“We don't have just one superstar,” Staack said. “The girls took the summertime to develop their skills and cohesiveness and getting to know each other better and to build their skill level. You can't do that during the season, you gotta put the time in the spring and summer.”
The main goal for this upcoming season is the same for the staff as it is for the players on the team — to make the postseason.
“The girls want to make playoffs. That is what they want,” Musselman added. “They want to win a playoff game, that's their goals to help their seniors go out on top, especially with the coaching changes it has given them something to look forward to.”
“I want to win a playoff game, something we haven't done in a couple years,” Staack added.