New SMNW girls coach has history of success
Where Jeff Dickson has gone, winning has followed.
Dickson, the new Shawnee Mission Northwest girls basketball coach, has a knack for turning around programs that have struggled and making them contenders. Just look at his most recent effort at Perry-Lecompton High School where he was the boys basketball skipper for the past five years.
“What I did at Perry-Lecompton is so paralleled with the Northwest situation,” Dickson said. “The kids there didn’t do anything basketball-related in the offseason. They’d had one winning season in 18 years. Their average record was 4-16, 4-17. We started by having cuts at tryouts, something they never had before. The teams had lots of technicals in the previous seasons and we had to straighten them out. We had to get after them on grades. We put in an offseason program of weights, camp and summer league. The first year we were 5-16. Then after we started playing 70 to 80 games in the summertime we came back with a 12-9 record, then a 19-3 record; the best record (they've had in the past 30 years) Perry-Lecompton. Taking a team from its lowest to its highest point is something I’m really proud of.”
Dickson is taking over the Cougar program in place of Brian McIntosh who took an Emporia State University women’s basketball assistant position in May. Dickson praised McIntosh for putting in place a system that was designed for turning around a struggling program, giving Dickson a head start as Northwest coach.
“I knew that they’d been down prior to the last two years and hadn’t been doing much in the off-season,” Dickson said. “Coach McIntosh turned that around and got them going in a positive direction setting up camps, summer league and a youth program.”
Dickson hopes to install an aggressive man-to-man defense for the Cougars and to create scoring opportunities with steals and rebounding. The new coach would also like to see the offense of his team spread around.
“We’re going to be physical,” Dickson said. “We’re going to play a tough man-to-man defense. Rebounding will be a key.”
“Offensively, I’d like to see our defense create offense and I’d like to see four or five people averaging between seven and 10 points a game each, instead of one girl who averages 19 — not that I’d turn away that type of player.”
Dickson comes to Northwest with a wide array of experience. He began his career as an assistant coach for Bill Bagshaw at Topeka High. From there, he took a position as an assistant on Chad Eshbaugh's staff at Topeka West and helped take a program that was 1-52 in their varsity through sophomore teams one year to varsity records of 19-6 and 21-2. Six years ago he took over as Wichita North head coach but had to leave that position after only one year when illness in his wife’s family necessitated a move back to Northeast Kansas.
Since taking over at SMNW, Dickson has wasted no time putting his mark on the program. After being named to the position two weeks ago, he spent the evening watching the Cougar girls squad play a summer league contest. That Wednesday he helped out with eight hours of basketball camp. This week he began a weights program. So far, he’s liked what he’s discovered.
“They’ve got great attitudes,” Dickson stated of Northwest’s returning players. They’re willing to listen; they’re willing to learn. They go at it pretty hard. Now we just need to go at those qualities even harder. We should be getting more kids in the weight room.”
Dickson hopes to reassure Northwest’s players that he will try to form stability in the head coaching position.
“I don’t know how they feel about that,” Dickson said when asked about the players’ feelings toward welcoming a new coach after just two seasons with their previous one. “We haven’t talked about it, but this is where I want to be. This is where I see myself coaching for the next 10-15 years.”