WORCESTER PREP WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW
(Nov. 29, 2019) The Worcester Prep girls’ basketball team had a successful 2018-19 season, and as the new coach, Brian McDermott hopes to continue the winning tradition.
“I’m super excited to have the opportunity and I’m looking to build on the success they had in the past,” he said. “This seems to be a good fit for me. I’m just grateful.”
“I think it’s really interesting because it’s such a different coaching experience,” said senior captain Emily Copeland. “I think he draws out the best in all the girls, which will be really good to see. It’s been great. It’s been a really positive experience.”
McDermott coached boys’ basketball at Sussex Tech in Delaware for two years before taking over as coach of the men’s basketball team at Salisbury University last season.
After his one-year contract with Salisbury was over, he was in search of a new coaching job. He said he got a call from a friend about the open position at Worcester Prep.
“He said, ‘I think this would be a good fit for you.’ I’m very grateful that he did,” McDermott said. “I’ve been waiting for five years to be a women’s coach.”
McDermott was an assistant coach for the Worcester middle school boys’ soccer team this past fall and had the opportunity to become more familiar with the school and how it operates.
He is thrilled to have his first job coaching females. Although it is like “night and day” working with girls compared to boys, he said he has not altered his coaching style.
“All guys need to check their ego at the door. Women just need to check their emotions at the door,” he said. “Don’t read into what I’m saying, take it for face value. That’s what it is and I think it’s really worked well with them.”
McDermott said he focuses on positive reinforcement, highlighting things players do well.
“If there’s a habit I want to encourage I just be really positive,” he said. “If there’s something that’s not working then I address that and work them through it.”
The team lost seven players, all big contributors, to graduation. The 2018-19 squad went undefeated in Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference play during the regular season.
The Lady Mallards fell short in the conference championship game, losing 37-28 to Delmarva Christian. They finished the season with a 16-4 record, only losing to three teams.
“We lost 80 percent of our offense from last year, so it’s a real opportunity for the other young ladies to step up and fill some roles that are open now,” McDermott said. “It’s a great opportunity for them.”
McDermott has 10 players on his roster. Five are back from last year.
Leading the team this year with Copeland will be co-captains Maddy Shanahan and Carly Hoffman.
Hoffman earned All-Conference honorable mention accolades for her performance last season. She will run the floor at point guard this year.
“She has great speed and I think she will impress a lot of people this year,” McDermott said.
“I have the most experience out of everyone on the team and I’ve been a captain for soccer and I’ve been a basketball captain before, so I feel that gives me leadership and how to lead the girls by example,” Copeland, a four-year player, said.
McDermott said Copeland’s style of basketball “is like she’s been playing for a very long time” and she’s comfortable on the court and in a leadership role.
Shanahan said she hopes to also use her experience to lead the team.
“I know a lot of things about the other teams that we’re playing and how they play,” Shanahan, a four-year player, said. “Our team is very coherent. We already all know each other, because we’ve all played with each other not only on the basketball team but on other teams like soccer, cross country, lacrosse … We’re just a family. I think we have a lot of potential.”
Junior CC Lizas is also back to compete. She was presented All-Conference honors for her performance last season.
Lily Baeurle made the varsity team as a freshman last year and returns as an even stronger player.
“She handles the ball very well and she sees the floor. She’s going to work hard this year on becoming a vocal leader,” he said.
Baeurle is up for the challenge. She feels she grew as a players from her freshman to sophomore year.
“I learned from the more experience players last year and now I get to use it this year,” Baeurle said.
She will take the court as a guard and may play some point guard. There’s always some pressure running the floor, but Baeurle said as you learn your role you become more comfortable.
McDermott has confidence in his underclassmen as well.
“We have five 10th graders that are playing on a varsity level with two juniors and three seniors. These girls have huge roles to fill and expectations are really high, but they’re capable,” he said.
Defense will be key to the team’s success this year.
“Due to the fact that we don’t have a lot of offensive output – we don’t have a lot of shooters, we don’t have an allstar so to speak of – we’re just going to have to play great team basketball, so a lot of our points will come out of pressure like it has in the past,” he said. “Our defense is our staple. I’m embracing what I have.”
McDermott said the girls are fun, caring and sweet, but also very competitive. They have great camaraderie, he added.
“They’re positive, energetic girls that feed off each other,” McDermott said. “I feel like the girls are responding. We’re getting ready for a good year.”
The goal this season is to win a conference championship and “cut down the net,” he said.
“That’s the expectation. That’s the highest level I can reach as a coach this year,” he said. “I don’t think they want to settle for anything less. They’re used to winning. In the last two years there’s been no banners and I think they’re hungry enough now that they really want it.”
Worcester’s first game is Wednesday at 4 p.m. against the St. Thomas More Ravens in Berlin.