By Rick White: Freedom New Mexico
Lindsey Wilson politely scoffs at the notion that it will take a while to rebuild the Eastern New Mexico University Zias’ basketball program.
Wilson, a former Lone Star Conference player and daughter of an Oklahoma high school coaching legend, was hired Monday to turn around a program that has produced two winning seasons in the last 11 years.
“No one has higher expectations than me,” said Wilson, who graduated from Central Oklahoma in 2006. “Realistically, with the players we have here now, there’s no reason to think we can’t finish at the top of the conference next year. Maybe not win it, but at the top.
“Certainly I think I can get it turned around the second year.”
Wilson, who spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach at Division I University of Texas-Arlington, was selected from a group of five finalists.
Wilson replaces Linden Weese, who was 41-95 in his five seasons at ENMU, including 5-21 last year. He resigned at the end of the season.
ENMU athletics director Jeff Geiser would not say if Wilson was the school’s first choice.
“I don’t think that’s relevant,” Geiser said. “What I can tell you is that we had a strong pool of candidates. Any of the five finalists would have been a good choice.”
Geiser said what stood out about Wilson was her knowledge of the Lone Star Conference and her ability to recruit in “our geographic footprint — which is Texas and New Mexico.”
“She brings a youthful enthusiasm that you see in young coaches,” Geiser said. “See has the, ‘I can conquer the world mentality.’ And quite honestly, we need that here.”
Wilson said she wants to implement an uptempo style.
“I plan to press as much as possible and switch defenses,” Wilson said. “I want to score as much as possible. People don’t want to watch a controlled kind of game and neither do I.”
The Zias graduated four seniors but do return first team all-Lone Star Conference forward Precious Herrin and heady point guard Tori Northcutt of Clovis.
Herrin, a junior college transfer from Louisiana, was the team’s top scorer and rebounder last season in her first year with the Zias while Northcutt was granted a medical redshirt last season after injuring a knee in what would have been her senior season.
Wilson said she visited with some of the players during her campus visit, and came away impressed.
“They’ve expressed to me is that they’re tired of losing and willing to do whatever it takes to win,” Wilson said.
What it takes, Wilson said, is hard work.
“You’re going to have to work hard if you’re going to play for me.”
Signing day for Division II basketball recruits was April 13, which means Wilson has some catching up to do.
“We know it’s a big challenge and we know that it’s going to take some time,” Geiser said of rebuilding the program. “Her biggest challenge right now is trying to salvage the recruiting season.”
Wilson said she plans to recruit New Mexico hard to keep the best Division II players in the state and also will rely on junior college recruits to plug holes in the roster.
“Right now we need to find an impact player to help Precious,” Wilson said.