WSC represented in NCAA Tourney

Alumni Eric Henderson and Jerry Krause meet in Division I tournament

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  • Jerry Krause

  • Eric Henderson

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Connor Ryan, Staff Writer

That is the distance between Rice Auditorium and Key Arena in Seattle.

That’s how far from the comforts of Wayne America two Wayne State alumni were when they met up in the second round of NCAA Division I national tournament.

On one side was Jerry Krause, the Co-Director of Basketball Operations for the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

And facing him was North Dakota State Bison Assistant Coach Eric Henderson.

Both men share the same stomping grounds of a small college town in northeast Nebraska.

Eventually the game ended as many expected, and as this journalist predicted with his now terrible-in-the-trash bracket, Gonzaga won 86-76.

But that was not the end-all-be-all of this game.

What were two WSC alumni doing in the big dance? How did they get there? What’s it like coming from such a humble place to all of a sudden being thrust into the primetime spotlight?

Krause is a 1959 graduate of Wayne State College. Among his duties at Gonzaga are to oversee the day-to-day operations of the men’s basketball office, scheduling, player evaluations and video operations.

His first stint with the Bulldogs was an 8-season run from 1985-92, when he served as a part-time assistant coach.

He returned in the summer of 2001 from a five-year civilian term at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he was a professor of sport philosophy and director of instruction for the department of physical education.

Krause has written more than 30 books on coaching basketball, produced 31 instructional videos, six DVD’s, two CD’s and serves as a consultant to many athletic organizations. He is the most widely published coach in basketball history, surpassing the legendary Clair Bee.

Unfortunately, Krause was too busy with Gonzaga making a run at the final four to be able to comment.

“I learned a lot from my days at Wayne playing for Coach Gregg McDermott,” Henderson said. “Those core values are what sticks with me today.”

Henderson was a member of the 2000 graduating class, playing for the Wayne State men’s basketball team all four years he was here. He played under now Creighton head coach Gregg McDermott. In his senior season he averaged a double-double a game with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Henderson holds the WSC record for blocks in a career at 100. He’s also second in rebounds in a season with 352 and in third for blocked shots in a season with 32.

“Our team at Wayne was extremely successful and it really reminded me of the team I coached this year,” Henderson said. “The character of each individual was unmatched.”

Coming from Wayne State may not be as glamorous as other institutions, but that’s no reason to not chase after your goals and dreams.

“Looking back at the time that you had at Wayne, not only the school but the community as well, you don’t appreciate it,” Henderson said. “You need to take advantage of that and if you do then the sky’s the limit. Don’t sell yourself short and good things can come your way.”

Henderson, after leaving Wayne State, spent three seasons with McDermott as an assistant coach at Iowa State.

He was then the head coach at Burlington Catholic Central in Burlington, Wis. for five seasons. He joined NDSU in April of 2014.

Henderson was able to meet up with Krause during the post-game handshakes and exhibited some Wildcat pride.

“When we were shaking hands, I made sure I stopped and said congratulations and good luck,” Henderson said. “I also mentioned to him ‘Hey, I’m a Wayne State alum, Wildcat pride.’ He just turned back and smiled, and you could tell the sincerity of it, so it was pretty cool.”

The final horn that sounded in Seattle signaled the end of a game, a season and for some, a basketball career.

But for two Wayne State alumni, it meant the beginning of a new chapter of a book that started here in Wayne, America.

A book looking to open more doors for future Wayne State graduates.