By DAVE MORRISON
One of the better basketball discussions I had this season was with Westside coach Shawn Jenkins and the subject was coaching.
His team is having a down year, and he admitted it was tough.
But he also said he believes that’s when a coach does his best coaching.
“When you are 6-15, you are working harder, you’re looking for offenses, you’re looking for defenses,” Jenkins said. “You are working harder than you are when you have the nine seniors I had (on last year’s 20-win state tournament team) that I knew I could kind of relax on because they were veterans and they would get the job done.”
With that in mind, one of the best coaching jobs in the area, maybe the state, was turned in by Woodrow Wilson’s Ron Kidd this season.
The Flying Eagles are flying high at 16-6, riding a 10-game win streak and rising to No. 3 in the Class AAA rankings.
Nobody expected it after a Woodrow Wilson’s 1-4 start. That’s when Kidd did his best coaching. The Flying Eagles have since won15 of 17 games, losing just twice since the calendar turned to 2019.
Senior shooter Bryce Radford summed up what it was like going out in town after Woodrow’s less than Beckley-style start.
“It pretty much sucks,” Radford said. “You go out to the mall to buy your mom a (Christmas) gift and all you’re hearing is ‘What’s happening? What happened in Morgantown? In Fairlea? All that stuff. You just have to block out all the noise, stay between the 20 people we’ve got on this team and keep working every day.”
The Flying Eagles have done that and more. The Eagles victory at Parkersburg South Thursday was that 10th straight. Tonight they host Riverside in the Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 opener.
During the current streak Woodrow Wilson has beaten No. 4 George Washington (in the MSAC championship) No. 6 Hurricane and No. 8 Wheeling Park. They also have wins over No. 5 Capital and No. 9 Cabell Midland. Most of those teams were ranked higher at the time of the Woodrow Wilson wins.
The Flying Eagles have beaten half the top 10.
Losses have come to the No. 2 and 4 teams in Class AAA (University and George Washington), the Nos. 3-4 teams in AA (Logan and Bluefield), First Love, a national team from Washington, Pa. and Greenbrier East, the season opener and a loss later avenged with an easy double-figure victory.
Yeah, it’s Woodrow Wilson so you expect success. Likewise Kidd probably doesn’t get the credit he is due because of the success of the program.
This isn’t a typical Woodrow Wilson team.
This isn’t the 1990, the 1992 and 1993 or the 1997 and 1998 state champions. It isn’t the 2004 state champions. It isn’t even the 2009 state champions, but that last one isn’t a bad comparison.
Those teams, especially the 1990s teams, were loaded with talent.
It’s basically been a team that for a good portion of the season has leaned heavily on two players for scoring, Bryce Radford and Danny Bickey to do a bulk of the scoring. There is always a good combination at the top. Rarely is it like this.
Radford had a school record 50 points against First Love earlier this season. Bickey has a school record 81 3s this season.
All told the duo has accounted for 58.1 percent of the team’s points. The have a combined 153 3s, which is more than a lot of teams.
And there have been plenty of player defections, including players who were starting or were in the rotation at the beginning of the season. For a while it seemed like a mass exodus. That is just not typical at Woodrow.
The team didn’t nose dive, it prospered.
Those aforementioned state champions, there are subtle similarities to those talent-laden teams of the past.
Woodrow Wilson is getting the little things from players like Micah Hancock, Ben Gilliam, Ayden Ince, Richard Law, Mulah Chi and Madden McMillan.
Hancock has also come on offensively during the win streak with seven double figure games, including a career-best 19 vs. Parkersburg South. He has morphed into a third scoring option.
The team has seemingly bought in to making things happen on offense on the defensive end.
Everyone talks it, but nobody I’ve observed over the years puts more emphasis on turning defensive stops into points than Beckley. It’s a staple of the Beckley style. It might be Beckley style.
The smooth coaching job done Ron Kidd should not be overlooked as the postseason is upon us.
As he always says, “We have a chance.”
That is certainly the case.