New Baldwin basketball coach Wilson: Win now

Saturday, April 21, 2018 | 12:57 AM

Eugene Wilson received an early birthday present.

Wilson, who will turn 40 on May 3, recently was hired as coach of the Baldwin boys basketball program.

“I'm honored and excited about the opportunity,” Wilson said. “My staff and I are looking forward to the challenge and preparing to lead this program. We want to be as prepared as possible so that the team can benefit and create positive experiences.

“I am really looking forward to working with (athletic director) Vince Sortino, the administration, the players, parents and community stakeholders to bring Baldwin to an elite level. I do have a ‘win now' mentality. I am hoping that it rubs off or coincides with other mentalities in the locker room.”

Wilson formerly coached for three years at Wilkinsburg, his alma mater, and for the past two seasons at Westinghouse. His teams were playoff qualifiers in four of the five years.

Wilson offered his early thoughts on the future of Baldwin basketball.

“It is ‘very early,' but before we know it November will be here,” he said. “Early on, we want to help the kids understand what our expectations will be. Not only that, we as coaches want to know what they expect, as well.

“We will implement a summer program with ample opportunities for the team to take advantage of, and at the same time give us an inside look at (the players) we will be working with. I expect us to be unified and supportive of each other, to buy into the system and believe in the process.”

Baldwin has three consecutive winning seasons, with WPIAL playoff appearances in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Last season, the injury-riddled Highlanders finished 12-10.

“I would like for us to be a playoff contending team (in 2018-19),” Wilson said. “That first starts with establishing an identity. My successful teams in the past were very intense defensively. Something we must do is understand and execute our defensive concepts.

“I have a 10/10/10 concept, which means for the regular season we want to average offensively at least 10 points more than the opposition, record at least 10 more rebounds than the opposition, and create a turnover differential of 10. If we can do that, we should be looking at playing past the first week in February of 2019.”

Wilson compiled a 31-17 record at Westinghouse. The Bulldogs, who were 18-7 and led by 6-foot-11 senior F/C James Ellis in 2017-18, advanced to the City League and PIAA playoffs both seasons.

At Wilkinsburg, Wilson's teams logged winning records twice, including a 16-8 slate in 2015-16, and qualified for the WPIAL playoffs twice.

Wilson was a four-year scholarship player at Pitt-Johnstown and also played semi-pro basketball.

He is employed as director of Community and Resident Services for Neighborhood Partners and in 2014 established his own AAU hoops program: DTP Elite.

Baldwin's new floor boss believes playing basketball should be a learning experience.

“The key is to have fun and learn through experiences, good or bad,” Wilson said. “I have six key concepts that make up my coaching philosophy: enthusiasm, discipline, organization, hard work, defining roles and teamwork.

“I strongly believe these points will help establish a program that will build kids up, and that's our goal. If we can do this, the winning will take care of itself.”

Baldwin ended its 2017-18 season on a high note by winning seven of its last nine games, including the final three in a row against playoff qualifiers Canon-McMillan, Bethel Park and Seton LaSalle.

The Highlanders snapped Canon-McMillan's 14-game winning streak, edged the Black Hawks in a thriller, then wrapped up the year with a 10-point road win against Seton LaSalle, which advanced to the WPIAL finals and PIAA second round.

“Hopefully that experience sticks with the returning players and keeps them hungry for more,” Wilson said.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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