Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
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Exactly two weeks ago today, long-time Duke University men’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski celebrated his 1,000th career victory as his Blue Devils defeated the St. John’s Red Storm, 77-68. After a great coach like Coach K finally achieves such an incredible feat, it almost seems fitting that just two week later another coach would follow suit as another one passes on.
On Saturday afternoon, NCAA Division II’s Philadelphia University Rams defeated the Post University Eagles in Philly at a tilt of 80-60. To most people reading the box score, it was just another win for the Rams, but that was far from the main headline. In his 48th season at the helm, Rams head basketball coach, Herb Magee, celebrated his 1,000th career victory in the win over Post. Being a division II school, some may say that Magee’s success doesn’t carry as much weight as Krzyzewski’s, and you may be right. But for a 73-year-old head coach that has been doing this at the same school since 1967, I think he deserves to be in the conversation.
Coming from a division III school, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the amazing talent and coaching ability that is at these lower levels in college athletics, so I already know the magnitude of what Magee has accomplished. During his nearly half a decade in Philly, the “Shot Doctor” has led the Rams to 27 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, a National Championship in 1970 and has pumped out 12 All-Americans, the 2007 Division II National Player of the Year and forty-one 1,000-point scorers.
As impressive as all of that is, Magee has only had three losing seasons during his incredible 48-year run. I don’t know about you, but for a coach to be that consistent and successful without garnering the top available recruits to division II, that might make his 1,000 wins the most impressive of all.
While Saturday was shaping up to be a great day for college basketball, tragedy struck during the night and the loss of a legend sent waves of emotion throughout the basketball community. Former North Carolina men’s basketball coach and basketball hall of famer, Dean Smith, passed away at his home in North Carolina at the age of 83 on Saturday night.
One of the most decorated and successful coaches that the game has ever seen, Smith totaled 879 wins (only losing season in 1961-1962), 13 ACC Tournament championships, 8 ACC Coach of the Year honors, 11 Final Four appearances, two National Championships and one Olympic gold medal during his 36-year career at UNC.
With this weekend effecting Coach Krzyzewski in more ways than one, Coach K was quoted as saying, "We have lost a man who cannot be replaced. He was one of a kind, and the sport of basketball lost one of its true pillars.”
I was only seven when Smith retired from basketball, but being the sports history buff that I am, I’ve learned of his greatness. Not only was he a legend on the sidelines, but also his ability to teach the game to his players and mold young minds to be great people made him just as valuable.
Krzyzewski was exactly right when he said Smith would never be replaced because legends like that don’t come around very often. There are plenty of basketball coaches at all levels who know how to win games, but for legends like John Wooden, Pat Summitt, Herb Magee, Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith, they taught their players how to be upstanding citizens and not only win on the court, but win in life as well.
On behalf of ‘Our Sports Report’, I would like to congratulate Coach Herb Magee on his 1,000th career win at Philadelphia, as well as offer up our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the late Dean Smith. As we recognize one legendary coach, we must remember another, and even though the game goes on, legends never die when we appreciate what they’ve done.