By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
As the title of the old TV show said, “Eight is Enough.’’
Burlington’s Randy Turney is retiring from coaching after picking up his eighth Enid News & Eagle Northwest Oklahoma Coach of the Year Award as voted by his fellow coaches.
“I’m old, I’m getting ready to go to pasture,’’ said Turney, 59, with a laugh.
Going to pasture as a winner, though. Turney took the Elks, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year after the graduation of All-Stater Garrett Butler, to a 23-8 record and a third-straight trip to the state tournament.
“It’s always an honor to be voted by your peers,’’ Turney said. “The coaching fraternity is one of the closest professions there is. We have a lot of enemies ... we’ve got to stick together.’’
Turney might have made 610 enemies during his career — that’s the number of wins he had as a boys head coach.
“Any time a coach receives an award, it’s a tribute to what his team accomplished,’’ Turney said. “You don’t see any coaches that went .500 or had a losing record win these awards.’’
Turney’s last team might have been his most special. The Elks had only seven players and expectations weren’t high after Butler took his talents to Southern Nazarene.
They had to go from a guard-orienated offense with Butler to a more post-oriented attack featuring senior Brandon Gosselin, who had averaged 6.5 points per game as a junior
This season, Gosselin averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds per game and fellow senior Lane Newlin came back from ACL surgery to lead Burlington to its improbable run.
“Those kids (Gosselin and Newlin) always had won before,’’ Turney said. “They had the discipline and work ethic and knew what it took to win.’’
Turney’s philosophy is teams win with defense. Burlington allowed only 39 points per game this past season, the lowest total in his career.
“That was sensational, especially with the three-point show now,’’ Turney said.
Burlington also won its fourth-straight academic state title this past season.
“That’s important,’’ Turney said. “We could change things without calling a timeout. We ran a lot of set plays. A team may not be as talented as some physically, but you can make up for that fundamentally. If you’re able to shoot and do the little things, you’ll win games.’’
Turney was a bit of a Jekyl-and-Hyde, known as much for his intensity and passion during a game as for his compassion afterward. He said a player should worry if he doesn’t yell at him anymore.
“You have to expect a lot from them to get a lot out of them,’’ Turney said. “You try to play a perfect game. Nobody has ever done that, but it’s what you strive for. The same thing relates to life situations. You do the best you can. If you make a mistake, you learn from it.’’
Turney demanded more than execution from his teams.
“If you act right and work hard, winning will take care of itself,’’ he said. “We didn’t have to worry about any off-the-court issues.’’
That’s what the 2012-13 Elks did, Turney said. They compensated for not being able to scrimmage by doing more rebounding, shooting and ballhandling drills. Extra emphasis was put on not fouling.
“We got a lot more repetitions with seven than if we had 15,’’ Turney said.
Turney said a lot of credit goes to his family — wife Robyn and daughters Tasha and Tana, who are coaching at Pond Creek-Hunter and Kremlin-Hillsdale, respectively.
One reason for his retirement is a chance to see them coach.
Turney said he was blessed throughout his career to have good players and be at good schools.
“God put me in certain places and situations for a reason,’’ Turney said. “I was really discouraged after the state tournament last year. I didn’t know what was coming up, but God had a lot better plan than I did.’’