Wilkerson brings a bit of Indiana to UMES post New coach follows teachings of Knight

December 21, 1991|By Bill Free

News travels very slowly out of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the tiny town of Princess Anne, especially if it has to do with the UMES basketball team.

It took four days for word to reach Indiana University that Bobby Wilkerson had become the 15th former Bob Knight player or assistant coach to be named a college head coach.

"I've been missing making connections with Coach Knight, and he's been missing me," said Wilkerson, UMES' interim head coach, who played three seasons for Knight at Indiana. "He had a game the first day [Saturday, when UMES lost to Liberty, 89-64], and I haven't had a chance to reach him since then."

When Knight learned this week that Wilkerson had the UMES job, he said: "Bobby always had a tremendous understanding into players' roles and what it's like to play hard. He was a great defensive player.

"I always felt he had his head on straight and had an excellent understanding of what it took to succeed as a player. He should do extremely well as a head coach."

The "interim" is just a formality because of the hiring process at UMES, and Wilkerson most likely will retain the job after the season is over, said UMES president William Hytche.

Hytche said: "He [Wilkerson] understands we think highly of him, and he'll probably get the job permanently. He feels the future is bright here for building a program."

If Wilkerson can take all the information he absorbed from Knight and incorporate it into the UMES program, the basketball news getting out of UMES will be much brighter.

Wilkerson, like Knight, preaches defense, discipline and dedication. He talks about the Hawks playing smart and being in condition.

He insists that his players work hard on "help-side defense and not getting beat on the dribble."

"I'll never be another Bobby Knight," said Wilkerson, who inherited an 0-6 team that was coming off a 5-23 season. "All I can do is take what he knows and incorporate it in my style. I hope I have the same basic qualities of organization and leadership he has."

Wilkerson said it isn't so much what Knight has told him over the years but more the example the Indiana coach has set.

"He showed me that honesty is the best thing," said Wilkerson. "I always knew where I stood with him. He told me what I was doing wrong and the improvements I needed to make. I never second-guessed myself. It made it all worthwhile."

So what does Wilkerson have in mind for the Hawks, who have no dominant big man and were beaten by Division III Salisbury State, 111-74, this season?

He plans to move junior guards Rod Caine, 6 feet 4, and Marlin Kimbrew, 6-1, into the post position to take advantage of their passing skills and run a motion offense around them.

Defensively, Wilkerson will mix it up between man-to-man and zone, depending on the opposition.

"I won't be stupid and insist on a man-to-man if our kids are overmatched," said Wilkerson, who played little but man-to-man at Indiana.

"My dream is to take this team to the NCAA tournament," said Wilkerson, whose second game is tonight at 7 at the Capital Centre against Georgetown. "I plan to work on the little things and watch a lot of film. The kids have a great attitude. I recruited most of them."

Wilkerson was a three-year starter for Knight's Hoosiers during 1974-76, which included the 1975-76 NCAA championship team, and he was a first-round NBA pick by the Seattle SuperSonics and also played with the Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers before his pro career ended in 1983.

After working with youngsters in recreation centers in Denver for three years, Wilkerson began his basketball coaching career in 1986 as an assistant in charge of recruiting for Tom Miller at the University of Colorado. Miller left Colorado in 1990 to take over the head coaching job at Army.

Four years later, Wilkerson came to Princess Anne as an assistant to Robert Hopkins, who resigned last Saturday as head coach. Wilkerson was also the primary recruiter for Hopkins.

According to Hytche, Wilkerson was the No. 2 choice when Hopkins was hired for the 1990-91 season and was a natural choice to replace Hopkins.

The Knight way

Fifteen former Bob Knight players or assistants have gone on to college head coaching jobs:

Coach .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..School

Steve Alford.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Manchester (Ind.)

Dave Bliss. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..New Mexico

Jim Crews . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Evansville

Bob Donewald . .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Western Michigan

Gale Dougherty .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Ohio Northern

Mike Krzyzewski . .. .. .. .. .. ..Duke

Tates Locke .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Indiana State

Tom Miller. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Army

Lionel Sinn .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Southern Indiana

Kohn Smith. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Utah State

Ray Swetalla . .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Marycrest (R.I)

Royce Waltman. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..DePauw

Bob Weltlich . .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Florida International

Bobby Wilkerson . .. .. .. .. .. ..UMES

Joby Wright .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Miami of Ohio

Note: (Alford, Crews, Krzyzewski, Wilkerson and Wright were players for Knight and the others assistant coaches)

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