Archive for Tuesday, March 22, 1994

S FIERY COACHING STRATEGY

March 22, 1994

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John Tacha's advice to Roy Williams: Don't let Gene Keady near the scorer's table at crunch time.

Tacha, president of the Lawrence school board, faced off against Purdue's Gene Keady 28 years ago, when the two were high basketball school coaches in central Kansas.

Keady's Beloit Trojans were ranked first in the state near the end of the season -- a powerhouse not unlike Purdue's Boilermakers in this week's NCAAs.

Tacha's Concordia Panthers were playing the Jayhawks' role: a scrappy group, heading into the big game as 17-5 underdogs.

At Beloit, the Trojan faithful were nervous. The game was close. The tension was thick...

"Picture this," Tacha recalled. "They're leading us by one point, with less than 30 seconds to play. Our kid steals it. He's going in for the layup, and instead of letting us get the basket, (Keady) jumps out of his seat, goes over to the scorer's table and hits the buzzer!"

No basket. Keady had been whistled for a technical foul.

"Back in those days, a technical was one shot," Tacha said. "Our kid misses the free throw. We didn't score. We lost."

Final score: Keady 65, Tacha 64.

"He was just ranting and raving and ran over and hit the buzzer," Tacha said. "Our kid was just about to score. I looked over at him -- he was just smiling -- and I said, `Is winning that important to you?' He said, `Yup, I have to keep the ranking.'"

Tacha said the loss made him 1-3 career against Keady -- "the only coach I ever had a losing record against" -- before Keady moved on to Hutchinson Community College.

The head Boilermaker is a good coach, Tacha said, with an intense desire to win. That much is obvious.

As for All-American Glenn Robinson, though, the Lawrence business owner has no easy answer. The Jayhawks should just play the same, tough defense they always play -- and, er, keep a hand near the buzzer just in case.

"Needless to say, I hope the 'Hawks beat the crud out of 'em," Tacha said. "You don't forget things like that."

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