Editor’s note: One in a series profiling the 2012 Maine Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
BREWER, Maine — In Dana Wilson’s freshman season with the Husson College men’s basketball team in 1970, the 6-foot-2 guard was a role player waiting his turn.
That came earlier than he expected, in a game against a tough Western New England squad.
“It was the seventh or eighth game of the season,” recalled Wilson. “I was the sixth man or seventh man on the bench. I didn’t play the first 10 minutes.”
After he was sent in, Wilson lit up the scoreboard for 31 points. The impression he made kept him in the lineup after that.
“What I remember most was the next day walking down the administration wing and people were [applauding him],” said Wilson. “I think it was the next game, my name was announced and I got a standing ovation. I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty good.’”
Wilson was more than pretty good as he finished with 2,471 career points in 88 games (28.1 ppg). He also contended for the NAIA scoring championship a couple of times.
For his accomplishments, Wilson, a Cape Cod native who lives in Brewer, will be inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame at the Bangor Civic Center on Sunday.
“I know I was nominated a year or so before by Keith Mahaney,” said Wilson. “I was surprised [to be selected] because I know how many great athletes there are in the state. To be one of the eight is really something.”
He continually meets people who will bring up his years with the then Braves.
“It seems like so many people saw me play,” said Wilson, who graduated in 1974.
Husson was a small business college then, but its teams were strong and fun to watch.
“We had good crowds. College basketball was big,” said Wilson, who has been operating his DJ business for 36 years. “There were fewer distractions then.”
What many people quickly get to when discussing Wilson’s career was the introduction of the 3-point line, which wasn’t universally used by college basketball conferences until 1986. Wilson doesn’t think it would have had any effect on the way he played, even though he was comfortable shooting from anywhere.
“It has changed the game,” he said, “but our game was a get-up-and-down-the-floor game. We scored 106 points a game my first year and 103 the second.”
His shot mechanics were different, too, adding to the fans’ wonder.
“It looked unorthodox,” admitted Wilson, “because I pulled the ball back more [to the side of my head].”
It was an adjustment he had come up with years before.
“I was small and thin. I had to develop something that worked [to get the ball launched],” he said.
He never changed it and was never asked to.
“There have been a lot of athletes with unusual styles,” said Wilson. “If they’re great scorers, at some point [during the release] they’re all pretty much the same [mechanically].”
Wilson had the Husson seed planted in his mind by a high school assistant coach who was a Husson graduate. The coach had a mail subscription to the Bangor Daily News and Wilson was able to follow the team.
Wilson said he considered prep school, but he had a summer camp to attend. The coaches were Bobby Knight, Rollie Massimino and Husson’s Bruce MacGregor.
Wilson went to Husson, earned a teaching degree and played basketball — and baseball — for four years.
In fact he gave baseball far more attention than he did basketball.
“I didn’t play basketball in the summer, I played baseball [including in the prestigious Cape Cod League],” he said.
Wilson, 61, stays in touch with some of his former teammates, especially John Lucas and Tim Murphy, and is grateful he had the opportunity to play at Husson.
“It was an amazing time for me,” he said.