Interview: Coach Jeff Wilson

By Stephanie Cabald
SC Staff Writer

After a victorious season last year, the warrior men’s basketball team is back for preseason. Jeff Wilson, a former East Stroudsburg University student who graduated in 1986, starts his eleventh season as head coach. 

He directed his program to three PSAC final four appearances from 2010 to 2012.

In 2010 Coach Wilson received the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East, National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Atlantic Region Coach of the Year award after leading his team to a PSAC East Regular Season champion title.
Spring 2012, the warriors won the PSAC championship. Coach Wilson gave his insight into the past and vision for the coming basketball year.

Stroud Courier: Preseason started two weeks ago.  How is the team doing?

Coach Wilson: The guys came back in very good shape and did a great job in testing. We try to be ready and conditioned prior to the first practice.

SC: Last year preseason, had you expected your team to win the PSAC championship?

Coach Wilson: I thought we had a chance and a good opportunity. We were among the best teams in the conference and we played our best at the right time in the season.

SC: What was the biggest team strength last season?

Coach: We had a lot of versatility in three different spots: Russell Graham, an All PSAC East 2nd team at the point guard position; Duane Johnson, an All PSAC East team who is a guard; and Terrance King as a forward, also an All PSAC 2nd team. In addition, we could count on the team depth.  Nine to 10 players rotated which gave us an advantage during the season and allowed us to be in better shape than our opponent when it was needed.

SC: How about this year?

Coach Wilson: The core of the team is found with players who acquired a lot of experiences and know how to manage and win games. Also team depth will be one more time an ingredient to our strength.

SC: What do you expect from your senior class?

Coach Wilson: I have five seniors, and I expect them to be good leaders, good models, and to reach to everybody in the program. Duane Johnson, Terrance King, Gerald Bridges, Blair Ramsey, and Dan Clapp won a lot of games and their experience will be beneficial to the program.

SC: Will the freshman have an important role in the team?

Coach Wilson: We have three incoming freshman who can have an impact depending on how they adapt to the college level. Malcolm Richardson will give depth at the point and shooting guard position. Wes Cherry is a small forward, a very good athlete, and will be probably one of our best defenders. Dajon Todmann adds length inside. He is the tallest player and will have an impact at the center position.

SC: As a coach, do you feel pressure to lead your guys to a back to back title?

Coach Wilson: No, I don’t approach this season as if we have something to defend. Every year has its own challenges. As competitors it is our goal to win the PSAC. Moreover, training the team to win the PSAC has been my role since I am the head coach.

SC: What does the ESU men basketball program need to have an impact in the NCAA tournament?

Coach Wilson: We need more consistency throughout the regular season. We need to find regularity in our style of playing that we would carry during the playoff that would benefit us during the NCAA tournament.

SC: Not many people know what a coach does outside the court. Could you describe your job in a few words?

Coach Wilson: I recruit, fundraise, maintain alumni relations. I consider myself running my own business. Truly, coaching is just 20% of the job.

SC: Is there one ESU team you are looking forward to cheer for this year?

Coach Wilson: The women’s basketball team, of course! We spend a lot of time together: share a lot of meals and trips. I almost consider the women players as a part of my team and enjoy their progress.

SC: Finally, summer went by pretty fast, did you have time to enjoy personal vacation?

Coach Wilson: I brought my mother to Orlando for a week. We saw my nephew performing. He works as a pianist in one of the Disney Resorts. It was the first time I saw him play professionally, and it was very gratifying.

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