Photo courtesy SCCC sports website
Former Seward coach Jim Littell andthen assistant Toby Wynn work with
their team that finished fifth in the nation in 2005. At the end of
that year, Littell announced he was accepting the associate head
coachin position at Oklahoma State University to work with his friend
and incoming head coach Burt Buddke.
Littell discusses Wynn’s 100th, cowgirls, son
By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Daily Leader sports department is starting a new
feature called the Tuesday Interview. This will be done in a question-
and-answer format. The first interview is with former Seward County
Lady Saints coach Jim Littell.
Q: Your former assistant just won his 100th game quicker than any
coach in Seward County history. What are your thoughts on Toby Wynn’s
A: “It’s not a surprise that he has done it in such a short time. His
work ethic and passion for the game makes him a special coach.
“Toby’s ability to recruit and knowledge of the game will make him a
success his entire career.
“I know Seward County and the community of Liberal recognize that
Toby is an ultimate winner.”
Q: What was Toby’s role for you when he was your assistant?
A: “Toby was very involved with that team. It was a team that
probably overachieved. He did a great job in working individuals, and
developing young players in a short period of time.
“I wanted somebody that would be vocal and would coach, and he just
jumped in and was very aggressive, and that was the way I liked it.
“Being a young coach starting out, he wasn’t intimidated to jump in
and be very active.”
Q: Toby finished third in the nation in 2007 with only seven players.
How tough is that?
A: “You have to be very intelligent about how you practice with seven
players. Toby did all the right things — knowing when to shorten
practices, to get days off. He didn’t have the luxury when you were
up by 30 to take people out. He had to be very smart how he worked
“I thought they were paying their best basketball of the year at the
national tournament. His loss was to the eventual national champions.
When they played Odessa (in the Final Four), it was the national
Q: How tough is it for a coach to follow and maintain a successful
A: “I don’t think it’s real easy following a program that has been
highly successful. Coach Buddke followed the legend at Louisiana Tech.
“Whether it is fair or unfair, you will be compared to previous
programs. It does make it difficult at times. I think Toby has
handled that as good as anybody can handle it.
“He has his own stamp on that program, he’s playing his brand of
basketball. We talk some Xs and Os, but make no mistake, that is his
program and they continue to be very good over last four years.”
Q: Seward recently lost at CLoud. How tough is it to play on the road
in the Jayhawk Conference?
A: “Cloud was a tough place. Barton was difficult place to play.
There were years where there there weren’t many easy stops in the
“Cloud’s always a good opponent for the fact that they are well-
coached and a veteran in there that his teams won’t beat themselves.”
Q: After playing in the tough Jayhawk West, what’s it like at
Oklahoma State this season?
A: This is a difficult conference. At one time you had four teams,
OU, Texas A&M Baylor and Texas all in top eight of the nation. We
have to play them eight times. I don’t think there’s any question the
Big 12 is the No. 1 RPI conference in the country, in particular the
Big 12 South.
“It’s fun, it’s competitive, but you better bring your best game, and
do the little things every night.
“We struggled first year and went 6-22, the next year we won 20 and
was the No. 1 turnaround program in the nation. Last year we won 27
and went to Sweet 16.”
Q: How is Seward transfer Tegan Cunningham doing?
A: “Tegan is our second leading scorer but been in a slump in
“She’s getting better all the time. She’s really improved her game
and continues to work.
“It is big transition from the Jayhawk. That is a great league, but
going to the Big 12, whether as a junior college or high school
player, there is a transition to go through. She will get through it,
but it’s not easy playing best players in nation every night.”
Q: What kind of crowds do you draw at Oklahoma State?
A: “We’ve steadily improved. We were probably drawing 1,200 to 1,400
when we got here. Now we draw 3,000 to 4,000 on a consistent basis.
“It continues to get better. The people in the area know Buddke will
always put a competitive team on the floor. As the program grows, the
crowds will as well.
Q: Your son Jeremy had a great season in football for Stillwater High
as a freshman. What was that like?
A: “It was a great year for Jeremy. Here in Stillwater, and a lot of
leagues he plays in, junior high is eighth and ninth. High school is
10-12. He doesn’t even go to the same building.
“They moved him up and told him he would be the JV quarterback. Early
in the year, they were starting to play him at wide receiver. In the
second or third game of year, the senior quarterback went down with
concussion. Jeremy went in and won six straight, they made the
playoffs and beat the No. 5 Muskogee team.
“Then they were in the quarterfinals at Midwest City, ended up losing
in last minute of the game.
Jeremy threw for just under 1,000 yards in seven games. Coaches here
did a great job of bringing a young player along in a hurry. I think
he has a great future.
“John( Littell’s younger son) is a seventh grader now, and he starts
at quarterback. I think he’ll probably take over after Jeremy is
done. I think he will start then.”
Q: What does the future hold for you in coaching?
A: “I enjoy it here. I work for a good coach who understands family.
Coach Buddke has always made it available for me to watch my kids.
That is important to me.
“You never say never. We enjoy Oklahoma State and Stillwater. There
are times I get an itch to be a head coach again. Whatever presents
itself will happen in time. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”