Butler's Tincha a pleasant surprise for Grove City basketball team

| Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Hard work and dedication continue to pay off for Luke Tincha.

Both traits helped land the Butler graduate an opportunity to contribute as a freshman for the Grove City College men's basketball team. He continues to make the most of it.

The 6-foot-5 center is one of the team's top reserves — the first “big man” off the bench for the Wolverines.

“Luke has gradually improved. Like any freshman, he's making his share of freshman mistakes, which is to be expected,” Grove City College coach Steve Lamie said.

“We have a certain standard, and he has bought into that. He has gained the respect of his teammates and the coaching staff. He's trying to do things our way. He bought in early, and that's why we trust him. We trust him to do the right things out on the floor.”

Through Tincha's first 18 games played for Grove City, he averaged 13.9 minutes and 2.3 points.

“Actually, yeah, I was very surprised at the beginning to get an opportunity to contribute a lot,” Tincha said.

“I was a little unsure about it. I am excited about it. I like to work hard every day at practice. I like to do everything I am told. I just like to work the hardest I can at basketball and be the best I can be. As the season went on, I felt my confidence building and felt better about getting in and doing what I needed to do.

“There was a lot of learning I had to do. I did a lot of work on my skills because the speed of the game is much greater.

“Everybody makes mistakes, and everybody can't play their best every game,” he continued. “Working hard is something everybody can do, though. I like to be defined by working hard. Working hard always has been a part of me. It's just in my blood.”

Tincha's work ethic is what made Lamie take notice.

“It's a good success story. We did not recruit him at all, honestly, until maybe the last week of the regular season last year,” he said.

“I had seen Butler play on maybe three occasions.

“We were actually recruiting the guy playing in front of Luke, who was a senior and moved into the district. Luke was on the bench, and we didn't see him play. We didn't get that other young man.

“But, (Butler coach) Matt Clement called me and told me that Luke was really coming along and that he stuck with the program, kept plugging away and he thought he deserved a look.

“I came down and saw him a little bit. I was intrigued. He plays so hard. He has good size. I like his attitude,” Lamie said.

“Luke probably never started and maybe always had been that afterthought. Now, he is coming into his own through a lot of sacrifice and patience. Now, he is starting to reap the benefits of perseverance of staying with it. He has been a pleasant surprise.”

Tincha was thrilled to get a chance to continue his basketball career at Grove City.

“Actually, I wasn't looking at many schools to play basketball,” he said. “This was one of a very few, and it turned out that I really like the school and campus. It turned out to be a good fit. This school is great for academics. Being able to play basketball is a plus.”

The college basketball season can be a grind, especially for a freshman who is not used to a longer schedule. But Tincha is not bothered by it.

“Getting the minutes I have as a freshman has definitely made me work harder and efficiently to prepare for next year and the years to come,” he said. “I want to extend my shooting range and work on my all-around game and increase my skills.”

Lamie, who estimates Tincha shed around 20 pounds last summer in preparing for the college game, can't wait to see Tincha's development continue.

“If last summer and this year is any indication, he will get better because he wants it,” he said.

“If he doesn't come back in better shape and a better player, I'd be shocked.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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