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Volume 68, Issue 109, Wedenesday, March 12, 2003


Guy V. deserves HOF bid 

Cougar Pause

Max Welles

Contrary to popular belief, Cougar fans, Guy V. Lewis should not be elected to the Hall of Fame on April 7.

He simply doesnit have the numbers.

Five hundred and ninety-two wins over a 30-year span, including 27 consecutive winning seasons, isnit that impressive.

He guided his teams to 14 20-win seasons, won the Southwest Conference regular season crown three times and garnered the postseason title four times.

His teams averaged 19 wins a season, including three years of 31 or more wins.

Fourteen trips to the NCAA tournament and four appearances in the National Invitation Tournament are childis play.

Ten Sweet Sixteen appearances and five Final Fours are all in a dayis work. Two National Championship appearances -- ho-hum job.

He simply doesn't have the accolades.

He was only awarded the national Coach of the Year twice (1968, i83), the USBWA District VI Coach of the Year twice (i68, i83), the Southwest Conference Coach of the Year twice (i83, i84) and the Texas Coach of the Year four times (i68, i77, i82, i83). 

He simply didnit make his players better.

Three of his players went on to be named to the NBAis All-Time Top 50 (Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Elvin Hayes). Fifteen of his players received All-American honors and he saturated the NBA with 29 draftees.

Critics knock Lewis for never winning the "big game." He never clipped the net strings or hoisted a National Championship banner in the Hofheinz Pavilion rafters.

But he did win "The Game of the Century" -- the epic battle between then-No. 2 Houston and then-No. 1 UCLA -- 71-69, a game that put college basketball on the national map.

Careers are not, and never should be, made on the back of one game or one lucky tip-in at the buzzer.

If Lewis had coached at Texas or Kentucky, he would have been inducted into the Hall two decades ago.

He isnit a reputed cheater like fellow candidate Oklahoma Stateis Eddie Sutton or an enabler like the retired "Lefty" Drisell.

Yes, it is somewhat unfair to knock these two great coaches; they have had stellar careers with more than 1,400 combined victories.

But the swirling hurricanes of controversy battering collegiate basketball (see: St. Bonaventure, Georgia, Fresno State), should sway the panel to reward honesty and character, not shady dealers.

His numbers compare with current Hall members John Thompson (who, ironically, defeated Lewis in his final national championship game appearance in 1984), the former coach at Georgetown University, who won 596 games over a 27-year span and current Lady Wolfpack coach Sandra Kay Yow, winner of 625 games at Elon College and North Carolina State.

Lewis was never a tireless self-promoter, especially quippy or a tyrant -- ingredients that produce memorable quotes for writers and indelible memories for fans.

Seriously though, those types of things get coaches noticed, but they donit necessarily tell the story of a coachis true worth.

Itis time for the Hall to stop excluding Lewis for what he didnit do. The man was simply a good coach. 

The numbers donit lie.

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