Thursday night was out Stars and Cars event at Mercedes-Benz of Sarasota. We raised money for the V Foundation and were thrilled to have Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay in attendance. He is a terrific young man. Also there were former Red Sox star Rico Petrocelli, former NFL player Willie Clark, ex-Big Ten stars Marcus Liberty and Jerod Ward. It was a special evening for a very good cause.
It has been a very tough week for college basketball.
First, the sport lost Dean Smith, the Michelangelo of coaching. We learned to admire and respect him for his accomplishments both on and off the court.
Now we have lost Jerry Tarkanian at age 84. Tark the Shark, who could ever forget him walking the sidelines with that towel in his mouth, chewing at it. Years ago, I labeled him as the Father Flanagan of coaching. If you were a young guy and had a problem, the call would be made to UNLV. Tarkanian would be able to get the most out of his players’ ability and talent.
Watching a practice session run by Tark was like being at a clinic. There was so much intensity, passion and emotion, especially on the defensive end. His players went at it full force, so the games turned out to be easier than those practices.
He was all about competing and get the most out of his people. Tarkanian had a great relationship with his players. Think about some of the names that dotted the Runnin’ Rebels roster: Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony, Anderson Hunt and on and on.
When you talk to the athletes who wore that UNLV uniform and played under Tarkanian, you hear nothing but rave reviews. He was a lot more than just a basketball coach; he was a father figure, much like Smith was at North Carolina.
It is always special to walk into Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke. The fans down there treat me like royalty. It is also a pleasure to watch the Blue Devils in ACC play. Duke had had a battle but got to the winner’s circle against a Georgia Tech team that has come so close so many times but is 1-9 in the conference.
It was another milestone night for Coach K. He earned his 423rd ACC victory (regular season and conference tournament combined), passing the Michelangelo of coaching, North Carolina’s Dean Smith, as the winningest coach in league history.