Male doesn't take much credit for Buzzy. He hasn't been able to spend the amount of time with him that he'd have liked, because other players needed him more. In a way he has done him a disservice. On several occasions last year, particularly against old Virginia schools like VMI, VPI and Washington and Lee, Male pulled Wilkinson out of the game in the second half. Point-hogs complained; they wanted Buzzy to run up a fantastic average and put Virginia on the map.
"He's the only coach I know who'd deliberately keep the score down," one rival coach said. "Including me."
Male likes and respects Wilkinson. The thought that he may have cost Buzzy a notch in national rankings perturbs him. "But isn't there more to coaching than winning?" he asks in his soft sad voice. "Am I wrong? Am I?"
Despite Buzzy, Virginia is still way out of its class in basketball, and the new-found revenue hasn't filtered down to Male. Everett Case of North Carolina State was presented with a new Cadillac by grateful alumni, and an assistant an Oldsmobile. Male has no assistant. He drives a Cadillac. It's 14 years old, has 385,000 miles on it and was given to him by his mother-in-law.
The Virginia material dictates the style of play Male teaches. He can't operate with a set-play offense, because 1) some of the boys on the team simply aren't good enough and 2) Wilkinson is just too good.
Thus, when Virginia first gets the ball, the boys go into a kind of mountaineer moonshiner attack. ("Run like hell, Paw, here come the revenooers.") If that fails, the players fall into a loose pattern and do whatever seems to be a good idea at the time. Male attempts to keep the number of men in on the attack down to two or three, on one or the other side of the basket. Wilkinson has more chance to make those lucky shots that way.
Buzzy intends to generate his own luck by hard work right on through life. One of these days rival attorneys will shake their heads at the lucky ways his clients get their names in the papers. The fact is that Wilkinson is taking a three-hour course in journalism for that very purpose. He is the only pre-law student in the class. Buzzy got his taste for law when he prosecuted a fellow student before the honor court at Greenbrier. The boy was expelled and Wilkinson felt terrible. From then on he took the defense. One of his clients had been caught in the very act of cheating on an examination. Buzzy got him off with a light sentence. He was the Clarence Darrow of Greenbrier.
Though popular and personable, Wilkinson is not a Big Man On Campus. He doesn't live in his fraternity house (Pi Kappa Alpha), but has a room in a quiet home a mile away. He frequently eats alone, goes to the movies alone. He loses weight during the basketball season. He's tense and tight and he simply can't pace himself. He's got to give it all. By March he is under 160 pounds, with prominent cheek bones and sunken eyes.
Wilkinson is still undecided about playing professional, or AAU basketball. He has coolly worked out the percentages. If he's offered $8,000 a year or more, he'll play. If not, he won't.
But one event could upset those cold calculations. If Virginia asks him to stay on and coach the freshmen while he's getting his law degree he probably will turn down any big-money offer.