VIRGINIA – David Wilson is more than excited to be the new head coach of the Mesabi Range College men’s basketball team.
“I’m elated,’’ Wilson said Friday during a break from practice with the Norsemen football team, where he serves as offensive coordinator. “Mesabi gave me my first start and I’ve always been around this program in one way or another (nine years collectively). Mesabi has always been good to me and so I’m cherishing the opportunity to get the chance to coach these young men.’’
Wilson, 43, believes being Mesabi’s assistant men’s basketball coach for the last three years will benefit him when the team is assembled to play this winter.
“My goal honestly is to hopefully get a basketball team that is able to compete, which I think we will. We have a great nucleus coming back. From me being an assistant, I know all those guys. I know their game.’’
Wilson said he also recruited another seven players. “I talked to them and got them to come to school here. I’m the only one they actually know. That gives me an opportunity to instill some of the things I want to have happen.’’
As far as Wilson’s basketball philosophy, he has an offensive mindset. At the same time, “I know that defense is the only way you win games.’’
Based on the previous teams he has led, they are all known for being in shape. “It could be a lack of talent, but it won’t be lack of effort.’’
Wilson’s basketball experience includes starting his coaching career at Mesabi in 2004 as an assistant to former head coach Tom Stackpool. He then went to Hibbing Community College, where he was the men’s assistant coach and coached the women’s team.
He was later hired to start the Fond du Lac basketball program in 2008 and spent four years as head coach there. From there, he had a two-year stint coaching football at Itasca Community College.
Wilson returned to Mesabi as assistant coach for Stackpool’s final year and was then on the bench with Ryan Ostendorf, who followed in Stackpool’s footsteps.
“I’m pretty well versed in this league because I coached in it for so long,’’ he said.
The new coach plans to build on a team that advanced to the State Tournament last season. Six or seven players from the 2018-19 team will be back to do just that, he added.
“They have the maturity to bring the new ones along. They also know what it takes to get down there to the state tournament.’’
Wilson is confident in his new recruiting class but height will be a challenge. Size in the MCAC is always important, he said, but 6-foot-8-inches tall isn’t always needed because there arent’ that many players in that height range. Having players at 6-3 or 6-4 that are quick will be an advantage for Mesabi Range.
A strength, however, should be the Norsemen backcourt. According to Wilson, guard Mamoudou Cisse will return to run the point, while another first-year guard from France is expected to join the team. “I’m looking for some big things from him.’’
The Norsemen should also be able to take a good deal from Wilson’s experience as a scholarship athlete at the University of Central Florida. He signed a football scholarship and played four years for the Knights. UCF also wanted him to play basketball, but he opted to hit the gridiron.
With the MRC fall semester just one week away, the Merritt Island, Fla., native is looking forward to his players arriving on campus. Practices start Oct. 1, but he plans to get them started in the weight room and doing conditioning after Labor Day.
When the season gets underway in November, Wilson said you can look for the Norse to play an uptempo offense with lots of passing and cutting and a man-to-man defense.
The players will be visible in the area, as well.
‘’We want to still enrich ourselves out in the community doing lots of community type things. Reading to kids, getting out and talking to elementary kids. … That will be one of my drives to be more established out in the community,’’ just like the previous coaches did.
“I definitely want to make sure we can get guys from around here excited about being a Mesabi Norseman.’’