Wacker feels right at home at TLU

More news about: Texas Lutheran
A Wacker coaching at TLU has historically led to championships.
Photo by Dustin Wyatt 

Mike Wacker always thought he would be a college basketball coach.

That was his plan when he graduated from college and settled down in Texas with his wife.

He seemed to be on the path to a long career at the college level, starting out as an assistant at Southwest Texas State before moving on to work on the staff at Texas-San Antonio where he helped lead the Roadrunners to their first NCAA tournament berth in program history.

He took a job at Judson High School in 1990 as a way to gain experience as a head coach and the plan was to return to the college ranks at some point.

Then life happened.

"My three boys appeared," Wacker said. "I was committed to coaching in college again but then I thought it would be fun to coach my boys in high school. It turned out to be a father's dream come true. All three boys had a lot of success in high school."

His boys have all since graduated and when an opening arose this summer at Texas Lutheran – the school where his father guided the Bulldogs to consecutive NAIA championships in football – Wacker jumped at the opportunity to apply for it.

"It was a dream come true for me and my family," Wacker said. "Texas Lutheran is a special place and has a great community feel to it. It's a great feeling to be back and I'm honored to be the head coach of the basketball team."

Wacker knows the high school scene as well as anyone because of his 26 years at Judson and believes the talent is in place to build on what has already been accomplished at the school.

"There is a hotbed of athletes in Texas," Wacker said. "There are a lot of young men who want to get a great education and have a chance to compete for championships. The potential is there to have a lot of success here."

Wacker seems to be the perfect coach for the Bulldogs because of his experience as a player. He was a star at the University of Texas in the 1980s, leading the Longhorns in scoring, rebounding, minutes played and field goal percentage during the 1984-85 season.

Earlier in his career, he helped the Longhorns race out to a 14-0 start and No. 5 national ranking during the 1981-82 campaign and turned in one of the best performances of his career in a road game against a Houston team that featured Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, scoring 32 points.

Wacker, who sustained a knee injury that season, derailing his hopes for a career in the NBA, also had an opportunity to play alongside Michael Jordan at the 1981 Olympic Festival.

"At the time, I felt like I was right there with those guys and on the same track," Wacker said. "It was exciting to play with and against great players. I know what it takes to play at a high level and I want to be the best coach that I can be. I had the freedom to chase my dreams when I was younger and now I want to help my players chase their dreams."

The Bulldogs are 3-2 through five games under Wacker and that's impressive when you consider they are playing without preseason All-American Sterling Holmes, who is battling an injury.

"Adversity makes a team stronger," Wacker said. "There are lessons you can learn in wins just like you can learn from losses. I learned from my coach, Abe Lemons, you can't get too high or

low. It's important to keep competing and make sure you are doing what you can to improve each day. We have a talented team here. The guys are passionate about the game and they work hard. I'm excited about our potential."

Wacker hopes to have the Bulldogs playing their best basketball in February and March as they take aim at contending for an SCAC championship and another berth in the NCAA tournament.

"The longer you sustain success, the better chance you have of making a long run in the tournament. Every team's dream is to get to a final four and win a national championship. I'm committed to helping our players realize their dreams. We're looking forward to a great season and I plan to enjoy the ride."

Shepherd paving way for Spirits

Salem has had mixed results in its first four games of the season. The Spirits are 2-2 and aiming to get back on track this week.

Sabrina Shepherd has played a pivotal role for Salem in the first month of the season, putting up 21.3 points per game. The senior forward has connected on 14 shots from beyond the arc and is pulling down 5.3 rebounds per game.

Mikayla Seivers has also risen to the occasion, ranking second on the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game. She has knocked down six treys and has grabbed 10 rebounds in a game twice.

The junior guard has also dished out four or more assists in each of the first four games.

Hornets earn first ODAC win

Lynchburg won its ODAC opener Saturday with an 81-63 win over Washington and Lee, extending its win streak to two games in the process.

Connor Schroeder propelled the Hornets to the win as he continued his phenomenal start to the season. Schroeder came through with his third double-double of the year, pouring in 26 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He highlighted his effort with eight 3-pointers.

Schroeder has scored 20 or more three times and already has 100 points in five games for the

Hornets, who improved to 4-1. Schroeder has drilled 17 shots from beyond the arc and is grabbing 9.2 rebounds per game. The impressive thing about his hot start to the year is that he is only a sophomore.

Stoia setting the tone for Dallas

Seana Stoia averaged 19.3 points, nine rebounds and 1.3 assists in three games last week to help Dallas stretch its win streak to four games.

The reigning SCAC Player of the Week came through with a pair of double-doubles during the stretch, scoring a career-high 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds in a 63-50 win over Westminster.

Dallas is 4-1 and has held three of its last four opponents to 50 points or less. Opponents are averaging only 55 points per game against the Crusaders.

Offensively, Dallas is averaging 58.8 points per game, with Stoia paving the way with her 15.4 points per game average. She is one of two players on the team averaging in double figures. The other is Michelle McCloud, who is putting up 15.0 points per outing and leading the team in rebounding at 12 rebounds per game.

Pacers clutch in close games

William Peace is on a three-game win streak and each victory during that stretch has been decided by less than 10 points.

The latest win, an 80-77 victory over Bridgewater Sunday, was secured thanks to the effort of

Chris Thomas and Ryan Emfinger. Both scored 21 points apiece, with Emfinger reaching his season-high. Thomas went 9-for-9 from the free-throw line, hitting two free throws with 18 seconds left to help William Peace hang on for the win.

The Pacers are off to their best start in program history and their only loss is to Emory, which is receiving votes in the latest D3Hoops.com Top 25 poll. They have scored 80 or more in each of their last three wins and Thomas, Emfinger and Jay Vince have been instrumental to the success.

Thomas is the team's leading scorer, pouring in 15.8 points per outing. Vince is averaging 14.8 points per game and Emfinger is putting up 11.8.

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 15 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3football.com and wrote the book Perfect Run as No. 1 about the 2009 Division II men's basketball champions University of Findlay. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.