Anderson, Indiana

Knicks Coach Mike Woodson gets advice from former coach and AU alum Bill Smith

Mon, 2012-03-19 16:46 -- univcomm
March 19, 2012

Knicks Coach Mike Woodson could perhaps receive no higher compliment than being called “a man’s man” by Bill Smith [1957 Anderson University graduate], a coach who regularly made men of boys. But Smith, Woodson’s coach at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, refused to take credit. He did for Woodson only what Jumping Johnny Wilson and Dr. Sander J. Kleis had done for him.

smith-woodsonAt Broad Ripple, Smith was a legend, the first black coach to lead an integrated school to a state championship. Woodson was Smith’s first all-American; Smith was Woodson’s role model. In 2004, when Woodson was coaching the Atlanta Hawks, he hired Smith as a personal consultant. He asked Smith to periodically watch practice and games, and he trusted Smith’s evaluations and opinions.

[Photo: Mike Woodson, second from left in back row above, next to Coach Bill Smith in the 1975-76 Broad Ripple high team picture. Credit: Broad Ripple High School]

The arrangement went on for all of Woodson’s six seasons with the Hawks, and the two have since kept in touch often. Now, with a new coaching job with the Knicks, Woodson said Smith would again join him as an adviser.

“He brings fresh thoughts to me from a defensive standpoint, and I need that,” Woodson said. “I’m a coach that’s always willing to listen and learn.” With a chuckle, he added, “He’s got more knowledge than I do, put it that way.”

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Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.