NEW Bendigo Spirit coach Tracy York is hoping for a quick turnaround in her first season with the WNBL club.
York, who fronted the media for the first time as coach at Bendigo Stadium on Thursday, has been signed on a two-year deal.
She will take charge of a team, which has been absent from the finals for the last four seasons, and compiled just seven wins from 21 games in 2018-19.
But York insisted there was no reason why the Spirit should not be setting their sights high and be aiming for a return to the league’s top four.
“The (2017-18) line-up is very strong and has some really good athletes; we have to look at how we build around that,” she said.
“But certainly we want to be looking at finals and I think that is achievable.
“Obviously with a new coach (it’s about the players) buying into your system and style of play.
“As soon as that melds in we will go forward very quickly.
“I’d like to think we’ll attack from the start.”
York, who coached the rival Adelaide Lightning in 2015-16 and joins the Spirit after four years as an assistant coach with the NBL’s Adelaide 36ers, believes her transition would be made easier by previous connections to some of last season’s playing group.
“Nadeen Payne was playing at the Adelaide Lightning when I was an assistant coach there, so I know here very well,” she said.
“Some of the younger ones came through the Australian junior system; Cassidy McLean is one we won the world championship with back in 2016.”
York is the Spirit’s first female coach and only the third in its history following dual championship-winning coach Bernie Harrower and Simon Pritchard.
She has already established herself as a trailblazer within the sport in Australia as the only female coach on an NBL roster over the past decade.
With the formalities of her introduction out of the way, attention for York will now turn to building the playing list.
York expects the Spirit to be aggressive in free agency, when the official period opens on March 9, and did not shy away from the type of player she favoured.
“Hard-work (and) people who are passionate about their sport and are prepared to put that hard work in on the floor,” she said.
“Also, (the team) is a family on and off the floor, so good people in the community who can do some work there.
“We want to get the fan base going and we want to play a good brand basketball.”
York will in some ways be starting from scratch, with no players currently signed past the end of last season.
It’s not totally foreign ground for the Spirit, who only returned three players – Payne, Kara Tessari and Maddi Wild – in 2018-19 from their previous season’s roster.
As to the type of basketball York wants to see from the Spirit, expect no major deviation to the message that has yielded her so much success in elite senior and junior competitions throughout the past 30 years.
“I like up-tempo basketball; I like to push the basketball and I like good defence,” she said.
“I want players to be able to play to their strengths and hopefully it’s good to watch.”
York will continue to coach Southern Tigers in the South Australian Premier League during the winter, before establishing himself in Bendigo later this year.
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