Vikings to face former long-time coach
Oct. 24, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash, -
By ANDREW LANG -- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
The defending Division II national champions begin their season with two Division I exhibition matchups this week, but by no means are they traditional WWU preseason contests.
Before the Vikings play Duke - arguably the most visible collegiate basketball program in the nation, at the famed Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27 - Western reunites with its former coach of 27 years.
"It will be weird for sure for the guys who have been around," Woodworth said in a phone interview. "I know coach Jackson has been around here for so long, and we are used to him on our side. It will also be a lot of fun to go against your old coach and play against a good team."
Allen agreed seeing Jackson in purple and gold will be an adjustment.
"I think it'll be interesting," Allen said in a phone interview. "I don't think it will be a good or bad thing - maybe a little weird. The whole coach Jackson thing is a good thing for everyone involved."
The matchup won't be the first time the Vikings have visited with Jackson since he resigned Aug. 17 to take an assistant coaching position on Lorenzo Romar's staff.
Jackson was present during the Viking Jam on Wednesday, Oct. 17, when WWU received its national championship rings.
"It was very fun," Jackson said in a phone interview. "You won a national championship and accomplished a great deal, so I'm glad it worked out that I was able to be in town for that."
Woodworth said he personally wasn't able to speak with Jackson during the Jam, but he enjoyed seeing the head coach who recruited him to play at Western.
The same feelings about Jackson exist two months after his move.
"I'm still really happy for coach Jackson," Woodworth said. "I was always happy for him. It's a great opportunity for him to do a lot of good things at UW and hopefully have a lot of success. We will probably miss him, but coach (Tony) Dominguez is a great coach and we have a lot of confidence in him. So far, it's been working out really well."
The same can be said for Jackson.
"It's been a real good experience," he said. "I think we're still adjusting and getting into more of a routine. I would have to say I've enjoyed the most, you know, interacting with the players. I have very much enjoyed working with the players. They are very attentive and accepting. I feel like I've been able to step right in and start teaching."
Wednesday's game marks Jackson's UW debut and it's a bit of an ironic start for the WWU basketball icon. Romar has rotated playing against area Division II teams. This year happened to be Western's turn.
"It will be very interesting, to say the least," Jackson said. "I'm not exactly sure how I will feel, but it will be very different. I was in Bellingham for the ring ceremony and got to see the guys and Tony and the rest of the coaching staff. That was nice."
Once WWU gets past the strange feeling of seeing their old coach on a different bench, Allen and Woodworth made it clear: They're trying to win a basketball game and prepare for the regular season.
"We want to compete," said Allen on playing Washington and Duke. "It's a great opportunity for our team and, at the same time, it's good for our community and the people invested in the program."
Woodworth called the ensuing trip to Durham, N.C., to face U.S. Olympic gold-medal winning and future Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski a "dream come true."
"I mean you can't put it into words," he said about playing at Cameron Indoor. "Kids dream of this growing up."
Though it will be the Western guard's first time playing in the gym, it isn't the first time he's been there.
Woodworth was born in Virginia. Both his sisters attended Atlantic Coast Conference schools. When he was a freshman in high school, he went to his sister's graduation at N.C. State. While there, he checked out the campus of North Carolina and Duke.
"The (Duke) gym happened to be open, and I just remember thinking, 'Man, man, this is incredible. I wish I could play here.' That's crazy now that it's happened and we get to play there. To play against arguably the best college coach of all time like Coach K, we are all excited."
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