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New boys coach creates change

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New boys coach creates change

Coach Eugene Wilson offering guidance to senior Shane Gilbert.  Wilson comes to Baldwin from Westinghouse.

Coach Eugene Wilson offering guidance to senior Shane Gilbert. Wilson comes to Baldwin from Westinghouse.

Johnny Staley

Coach Eugene Wilson offering guidance to senior Shane Gilbert. Wilson comes to Baldwin from Westinghouse.

Johnny Staley

Johnny Staley

Coach Eugene Wilson offering guidance to senior Shane Gilbert. Wilson comes to Baldwin from Westinghouse.

Johnny Staley, Staff Writer

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For the first time in seven seasons, Baldwin varsity boys basketball has a new coach, as former Westinghouse Head Coach Eugene Wilson now leads the Highlanders.
“It is weird to come in with it being completely different than the last three years,” senior Christian Barr said. “It’s weird, but it feels good doing a lot of new things.”
Wilson said he is familiar with Highlanders basketball.
“As a coach, you tend to follow a lot of schools, and I followed Baldwin,” Wilson said. “When I used to coach at Wilkinsburg, we played a few playoff games here, and the hospitality of the staff really stood out to me. The icing on the cake, though, was being in a bigger section in 6A at a larger school.”
Wilson had an 18-7 record at Westinghouse last season, and led the team to a runner-up finish in the City League. Baldwin, meanwhile, is coming off an injury-riddled season that saw the team finish with a 12-10 record and miss the playoffs.
“When I found out the job was open, I did a lot of research on the team last year and saw the potential they had, but also saw how limited they were from injuries, and I saw an opportunity in rebuilding the program,” Wilson said
The players are embracing the change.
“We have a lot more energy coming into the new season,” junior Andy Degenhardt said. “The energy we have now is showing in the way we have been practicing and playing.”
One major thing Wilson has tried to change is the culture of Baldwin basketball throughout the district.
“The culture is already changing, and we began the change as soon as I was hired,” Wilson said. “We have created a place where the players can speak their mind and can really buy in to what we are trying to build here.”
Players on the team recognized these changes, along with changes in their playing style.
“Last year, we were a little more passive and settled for a lot of threes, but now we are especially trying to turn our defense into quick offense and creating more quick two-point opportunities,” Barr said.
Wilson also wanted to make a point of extending this culture down to the middle school team, and for the first time in 20 years the entire varsity high school team went down to watch the middle school team play a game at Harrison.
“You have to build from the ground up,” Wilson said. “I thought it was ridiculous it had been so long since the varsity team went and supported the younger team. You have to take a holistic approach in building the program throughout the community, not just for the high school team.”
The players thought it was a beneficial experience for everyone as well.
“Going down to the middle school made the program more open and welcoming to the upcoming generation of players and families,” Barr said.
Degenhardt agreed.
“I think that experience showed that the middle schoolers mean something to the high school team, and that we want to watch them succeed as much as they want us to succeed,” Degenhardt said.
Wilson plans to establish a culture and build a program that will be consistently good, rather than being just occasionally successful. But that can start now, he said.
“I am a `win now’ kind of guy and my expectation is to succeed as soon as possible, and even though we are a young team, I think we can win a lot of games with our current team,” Wilson said.

About the Contributor
Johnny Staley, Staff Writer

Johnny is a senior and a second-year staff writer on the Purbalite. He is a track athlete and loves watching sports in his free time. He likes to write...

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New boys coach creates change