Denny Crum, Who Made Louisville a Basketball Power, Dies at 86

Denny Crum, who gained two NCAA males’s basketball championships and constructed the University of Louisville into one of many dominant packages of the Eighties throughout a lengthy Hall of Fame teaching profession, died on Tuesday at his residence in Louisville, Ky. He was 86.

The college introduced his dying after being knowledgeable by his spouse, Susan. No trigger was given. Crum had a gentle stroke in August 2017 whereas fishing in Alaska and one other two years in the past.

Nicknamed Cool Hand Luke due to his unflinching sideline demeanor, Crum retired in March 2001 after 30 seasons at Louisville with a report of 675-295 and championships in 1980 and 1986.

A former assistant beneath the famend UCLA coach John Wooden, Crum usually wore a purple blazer and waved a rolled-up stat sheet like a bandleader’s baton as he directed Louisville to 23 NCAA tournaments and 6 Final Fours. He was voted faculty coach of the yr 3 times.

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in May 1994, with Wooden, his faculty coach at UCLA and longtime mentor, at his aspect. Crum completed with 11 extra wins than Wooden had amassed at UCLA and was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Denzel Edwin Crum was born on March 2, 1937, in San Fernando, Calif. He performed guard for 2 seasons at Pierce Junior College in Los Angeles earlier than transferring to UCLA in 1956.

The Bruins went 38-14 in Crum’s two seasons as a participant. He briefly served as a graduate assistant to Wooden earlier than teaching Pierce within the mid-Sixties.

Wooden employed Crum as his assistant and chief recruiter in 1968, when the Bruins had been within the midst of their dynastic run to 10 NCAA championships. Crum is credited with luring the longer term Hall of Famer Bill Walton to UCLA, and the Bruins went 86-4 and gained three NCAA titles throughout Crum’s three seasons there.

He succeeded John Dromo as Louisville’s coach in April 1971.

Until then, Louisville had loved little postseason success, reaching solely the 1956 NIT championship and the 1959 NCAA Final Four. The Cardinals misplaced Crum’s first sport, 70-69, to Florida however then reeled off 15 consecutive victories.

“Denny was so good that I knew I wasn’t going to maintain him very lengthy,” Wooden as soon as informed The Courier Journal of Louisville. “I used to be happy when he acquired the job at Louisville. I had at all times hoped once I retired that he’d be the one to succeed me, however he left and proved to be simply what I believed he was.”

Crum’s Cardinals gained the Missouri Valley Conference — the primary of his 15 regular-season league titles — after which reached the Final Four, the place they met Wooden’s Bruins. At the time, Crum was the third coach to guide his workforce to the Final Four in his first season. (*86*) the Bruins gained, 96-77, on their strategy to a sixth straight championship.

The colleges met once more within the semifinals three seasons later with a comparable outcome: UCLA gained, 75-74, in extra time. By then Crum had employed a lot of Wooden’s essentially centered type, however with strain protection and a fast-breaking aptitude. Instead of an offense constructed round a dominant heart, Crum used athletic guards and forwards who might end performs with the high-flying dunks Wooden eschewed.

Crum’s philosophy helped make the Cardinals perennial NCAA match contributors, with 20 or extra wins every season from 1975 by 1979. Louisville’s breakthrough got here within the 1979-80 season, when the homegrown star guard Darrell Griffith and the so-called Doctors of Dunk marched by the common season, 26-3, and gained their second Metro Conference championship in three years.

Crum’s second-seeded Cardinals reached their third Final Four in 9 seasons, solely to run up in opposition to UCLA once more, this time coached by Larry Brown. Louisville lastly prevailed, with a 59-54 championship-game win in Indianapolis led by the high-flying all-American Griffith.

Crum’s second title adopted in 1986, when Louisville beat Duke, 72-69.

The second half of his tenure was not practically as profitable as the primary. Louisville endured two separate NCAA investigations and by no means once more returned to the Final Four beneath his watch.

After his retirement, Crum was a co-host with Joe B. Hall, the longtime Kentucky males’s basketball coach, of a sports activities radio program heard in Kentucky. Hall died final yr at 93.

Crum remained a revered presence round Louisville. He continuously attended Cardinals video games on the KFC Yum! Center residence courtroom bearing his identify. He was current for the September 2022 dedication of Denny Crum Hall, a new campus dormitory for athletes and college students. And he had a front-row seat in March 2022 for the introduction of one in every of his former gamers, Kenny Payne, because the Cardinals’ coach.

Complete data on Crum’s survivors was not instantly obtainable.

The New York Times contributed reporting.

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