I remember sitting about five feet away from him at old Jack Dobbins Field House in Tahlequah, Okla., the weekend his head coaching journey began.
Dave Wilbers came to Arkansas Tech University in 2007 and took leadership of one of the most successful intercollegiate women’s basketball programs in the nation.
The monster had already been created by the likes of Jim Yeager, Jim Dickerson and Joe Foley. It was Wilbers’ daunting task to feed it.
It was an inauspicious beginning. The Golden Suns went 0-2 during that season-opening trip to Tahlequah, but I learned something about our new head women’s basketball coach shortly thereafter. He perseveres, and his teams consistently improve.
Arkansas Tech won its next 16 games, and the Golden Suns have rarely been slowed down since. Eight NCAA Tournament appearances, six regular season conference championships and five league tournament titles later, Wilbers’ name deserves a prominent place in the history of Arkansas Tech basketball.
On Thursday, Jan. 7, Wilbers earned his 300th career win with a 63-30 victory at the University of Arkansas-Monticello. In so doing, he joined Foley and the equally legendary Sam Hindsman as the only Arkansas Tech basketball coaches from the women’s or men’s programs to reach that plateau.
That’s an impressive list to join.
“It means I’ve had a lot of good players, a lot of good assistant coaches, support from the university and a great family at home,” said Wilbers when asked what it meant to reach 300 wins. “Those are two legends. Sam Hindsman developed the tradition of basketball at Arkansas Tech, and then there’s not a better women’s coach in the state than Joe Foley. He is the best women’s basketball coach in the state of Arkansas. Joining that company means a lot, but I just hope we win the next one.”
Talk to you on the radio.
Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.