Harvey Wardell worked 30 years as an assistant to legendary coach Lafayette Stribling, spending 22 years with Stribling at Mississippi Valley State University and the last eight years at Tougaloo College. When Stribling decided to retire in late October, Tougaloo tapped Wardell to replace him as the new Bulldogs head coach.
Although he knows he isn't as well known as Stribling, "I have confidence in what I do as coach," Wardell says.
In his first season as a head coach, Wardell is learning to step into the spotlight more than he ever had to as assistant coach. "There is not (much) different, but the biggest difference is, as head coach, you are the face of the program," he says. "You have to keep on top of everything in the program as the head coach."
Wardell says he learned a lot from Stribling. "After 30 years, our styles are similar," Wardell says. "I tweak some things, but it's the same type of basketball."
One of the best parts about living in Jackson is the plentiful basketball talent. "Jackson is a hotbed for basketball players," the coach says. "I and my assistants are able to attend several high school games to scout talent. ... (It's) great for recruiting."
The beginning of the season has been a struggle for Wardell's team in his first season. Tougaloo started the season losing their first seven games. Finally, the Bulldogs broke through with a 77-52 victory against Concordia College Selma for their first win of the season.
Tougaloo is currently 1-8 on the season and off for a Christmas break. The Bulldogs' eight losses are by an average of only 4.6 points.
"We are getting better by the game, and are going to (continue to) get better," Wardell says of his team. "Coach Stribling started a winning tradition of going to the national tournament."
"Our goal is to maintain past status, and we are very young this season, but our guys play hard," coach Wardell explains. "We hope to begin peaking by the conference tournament."
Wardell, 64, is an Alcorn State graduate. His wife Anglean comes down from Greenwood on weekends, and the couple has three grown sons.
Coach Wardell enjoys living in the city of Jackson and on Tougaloo campus. "It is quiet on campus, and my wife loves to come down and shop," he says, adding, "which can get expensive for me."
"The community of Jackson has a lot to offer, and we enjoy it," Wardell says.
Coach Wardell and the Bulldogs report back to campus Dec. 27 and return to action Jan. 3, 2013.