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Larry Brown named coach at Big East-bound SMU
Question of the Day
DALLAS (AP) - Larry Brown is returning to college to get back into coaching.
The 71-year-old Hall of Fame coach was hired Thursday at SMU. It is his first college job in nearly a quarter century, and comes with a struggling program that is headed to the Big East after next season.
“It’s a challenge like everything. The greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity,” Brown told The Associated Press by phone from his home in Philadelphia.
Brown, the only coach to win both an NBA championship and NCAA title, hasn’t coached since leaving the Charlotte Bobcats in December 2010 after the NBA’s team’s 9-19 start. His contract there was to run through the end of the current season.
SMU hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 1988, the year Brown led Kansas to the national championship in his last season as a college coach.
“It’s not like I haven’t been involved. I live in Villanova, I’ve been to Kentucky’s practices the last two years, Kansas practices, Maryland’s practices and Villanova. I’ve probably seen them practice 50 times a year,” Brown said when asked about returning to the college level.
“People have to understand, you’re coaching college kids in the NBA, so I’ve found out kids want to be taught, they want to be coached, they want to get better,” he said. “I really think the fact that I’ve had a background in both areas is going to help me.”
“Larry Brown is one of the top coaches in the history of the game,” said SMU athletic director Steve Orsini. “He is a legend and has made every team he has ever coached a winner. As we transition into the nation’s top basketball conference, the Big East, his leadership will be invaluable.”
Details of Brown’s deal, including the length of the contract, weren’t released by the private school. Brown said he wasn’t ready to discuss who his assistant coaches would be. He said he has had plenty of inquiries about joining his staff.
“That’s the hardest thing, I think,” he said. “I don’t have enough jobs to help people that have been great to me. It’s been pretty painful in that respect.”
SMU will be Brown’s 14th job in a four-decade coaching career.
Brown’s first coaching job was at Davidson in 1972, though he didn’t coach a game there before going to the ABA and then the NBA. He coached at UCLA (1979-81) and Kansas (1983-88) and was the coach of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team that had a disappointing bronze-medal finish.
“We’re talking about a Hall of Fame coach that’s won both an NCAA and NBA championship and is the only coach to ever do so,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari, who just won the NCAA championship and was an assistant under Brown at Kansas from 1983-85. “He’s been a friend and mentor for years and I look forward to watching him take SMU to new heights.”
SMU last went to the NCAA tournament in 1993, five years after beating Notre Dame in a first-round game.
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