Not even illness derailed Jackson's pursuit of title
March 25, 2012
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. -
Sports Desk - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
It was a worst-to-first week for Western Washington University men's basketball coach Brad Jackson, who began his stay at the Elite 8 with a sick feeling and ended it on top of the NCAA Division II heap.
"Everything turned out OK," Jackson said after guiding the Vikings to a 72-65 victory over Montevallo in Saturday's championship final.
After 27 years as the program's leader, Jackson, who ranks 13th in wins among active Division II coaches with 518, wasn't about to let a pesky illness affect his Vikings at Northern Kentucky University. When the coach came down with a virus on Monday, March 19, he quarantined himself in his hotel room and told everybody to stay away.
"I was very ill," said Jackson, who missed Tuesday's press luncheon and had assistant Tony Dominguez stand in and take questions.
Jackson, who has the longest tenure of any coach in school history, did not want physical contact with anyone. The last thing he needed at the tournament was a key player catching his cold and being at less than 100 percent for three games.
"I got a touch of the flu Monday night," said Jackson, one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Clarence "Big House" Gaines Division II Coach of the Year award. "I really wasn't feeling well."
The coach, who earned his 500th career victory on Jan. 5, stayed in bed most of Tuesday. He drank plenty of fluids and watched what he ate and was on the sideline for every game, looking like he always does - ready to coach.
"I'm feeling all right now," Jackson said.
Which, of course, is an understatement.
The Vikings became the first men's national sports champion in Western Washington's 110-year history. They follow seven women's rowing titles and one softball crown.
"Pretty happy coach made it back," senior forward Zach Henifin said. "We knew this was going to be a tough week and it turned out the way we wanted."
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