Women’s coach chases 1 milestone, eye on 2nd
When Glenn Wilkes Jr. took the women's basketball coaching job at Rollins College in 1986, one of his goals was simply to make it through the season.
After 33 years at the private school in Winter Park, he doesn't have to worry about job security.
“I remember coming in here and being scared to death, and wondering what I was going to do after they fired me. That's what I remember,” he said with a laugh. “And I remember thinking if I could just get through the year, I might be able to find another job and stay on my feet.”
Being among the alltime winningest coaches in NCAA Division II history affords you a little humorous reflection.
Wilkes did more than stay on his feet. His first team went 21-6 and he was named the Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year.
Now, in his 33rd season at Rollins, Wilkes is closing in on another milestone: win No. 700.
Once he gets there, Wilkes will become just the fourth head coach in Division II and 28th in NCAA women's basketball history to eclipse victories.
The milestone eluded him Saturday as the Tars fell 62-50 to 13th-ranked University of the Sciences in the championship game of the Rollins Thanksgiving Tournament. His next chance comes Wednesday when Rollins plays host to Embry-Riddle in a 5:30 p.m. game at Warden Arena.
Saturday's loss dropped the Tars to 2-3 overall, but Wilkes is maintaining perspective. He doesn't want to add any pressure to his team, and with 23 regularseason games left he knows the 700th win will come. Wilkes has his sights set on a different number.
“I ought to worry Wilkes Jr. 700 more about 800 [wins] than 700 because if I don't get 700 this year I might not have a job,” he said with a smile. “Really, it's kind of that mindset.
“It's going to come now. We're this close. I truly am more concerned about 800. Hopefully I can get to 800. I'm not worried about it; I'm really not.”
Wilkes likely would have reached the 700-win mark last season if not for a number of injuries. The Tars limped to a 12-14 finish — just Wilkes' second losing season.
So he'll take another run at it with a team that lacks experience but Wilkes says will make strides as the season progresses.
Rollins showed some of that inexperience at times against University of the Sciences but also showed its grit against a team that reached the East Region finals last season.
“I feel much better after this game than I did before. I was concerned about how competitive we could be against a really experienced team. I feel a lot better after the game than I did before the game, even though we lost. I think we're going to be pretty good.
“Defense will keep us in every game.”
It did Saturday. Rollins held University of the Sciences to just six field goals in the second half but couldn't find enough offense to come back from an 16-point third-quarter deficit.
Colonial High alum Jaylyn Harrison scored seven straight points at one point as the Tars got within 51-44 with 6:43 left in the game. But the offense dried up and the Devils (4-0) slowly pulled away.
Harrison and Denise Daniels, also a Colonial alum, each scored 13 points to lead Rollins.
Sanford Seminole High alum Carly McLendon finished with nine points, a game-high 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.