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New day dawning for E&H men's and women's basketball

July 31st, 2014 9:52 pm by George Thwaites

New day dawning for E&H men's and women's basketball

E&H men's basketball coach Dave Willson

KINGSPORT — With August already upon us, Curt Newsome's impending first season as Emory & Henry head football coach is generating a lot of buzz.

But a new day is also dawning for two other high-visibility athletic programs at the school.

New women's basketball coach Anne Crutchfield and second-year men's basketball coach Dave Willson touched base with alumni and fans during Wednesday's E&H Coaches Caravan event at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.

Crutchfield is a Wasps alumna who scored 1,262 points under coach Joy Scruggs during a four-year run that included an Old Dominion Athletic Conference title in 1988. She was a the first women's athlete in the ODAC to earn all-conference honors for four consecutive seasons. She remains third on the E&H all-time scoring list.

"I was very fortunate to play with a good team. I was surrounded by great people and coach Joy Scruggs was just phenomenal to play for. We had a great chemistry and did really well together," said Crutchfield, who spent the last eight seasons coaching at Franklin County High School.

Crutchfield looks to turn around a program that won six games in last season. She has not yet had chance to assess her new team, but leaves Aug. 11 with her returning players for a 10-game playing stint in Italy that will include 10 days of practice.

"I'm really excited about that. It'll give us a chance to assess what we have now and where our needs will be for the recruiting class in 2015," she said.

"The month of July has really been a blur. We've been on the road about 20 days in July attending AAU events and evaluating players so we can get our recruiting classes in order."

She said she intends to recruit aggressively in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.

Willson, a tall bruiser of a former post player, is an alumnus of Emory & Henry's oldest rival. After a season at Division I Southern Methodist, he transferred to Hampden-Sydney where he played on two ODAC championship teams and made three trips to the NCAA tournament, including an appearance in the NCAA Division III Final Four in 2003.

Last year the Wasps won only six games, but made a strong surge at the end with wins over Guilford and Roanoke before closing the regular season with a loss at Eastern Mennonite followed by a first-round loss to the Royals in the ODAC tournament.

"We didn't have the record we wanted, but I got more acclimated with the school and the alumni base and the community and it makes me more excited to be here than I was to start," said Willson.

"The thing that I'm most excited about right now is that we have so many new faces coming into our program. We have eight freshmen coming in, six returners, zero seniors and one junior.

"We're going to be really young. I think we'll be able to lay the foundation for some really exciting things in the future with such a young team."

The new talent includes Tennessee High's Chase Branscomb, Virginia High's Noah Walker and Abingdon's Josh Hess. 

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