NEW YORK — Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald was honored to represent his former coach Don Haskins.
Haskins was one of three coaches to be presented with the sixth annual Lapchick Character Award on Thursday. The Naismith Hall of Famer, who died in 2008 at 78, won 719 games and led the Miners to 14 NCAA appearances. None was bigger than the 1966 run that culminated with the 72-65 championship game victory over Kentucky and coach Adolph Rupp. Haskins started five black players that day, a barrier-breaking event recalled in the book and movie “Glory Road.”
“He was like a father figure away from home for me,” said Archibald, who played for Haskins in the late 60s. “We used to talk all the time and he made sure I came back and got my undergraduate degree.”
Also honored on Thursday was women’s basketball pioneer Theresa Grentz and former coach George Raveling. Associated Press basketball writer Jim O’Connell received the Lapchick Recognition Award. Grentz was women’s college basketball’s first full-time head coach at Rutgers, where she won the AIAW national championship in 1982. She was the head coach of the U.S. women’s Olympic team in 1992, winning the bronze medal in Barcelona.
“To be in this group is a great honor,” Grentz said. “I can’t tell you what it means to me without getting too emotional.”
Raveling was head coach at Washington State, Iowa and Southern California from 1972-1994.
“Don is watching this. I have an app on here call Heaven,” said an emotional Raveling, pointing to his phone. “He said ‘Don’t screw it up.’”
The awards were handed out at the New York Athletic Club, recognizing those who have shown the character traits of Joe Lapchick, who coached for St. John’s and the New York Knicks.
“When the committee gets together it’s all about character,” said O’Connell, who has covered every Final Four for the AP since 1979. “The three people they honored today, that’s what it’s all about. There are so many people in the industry that are worthy of getting this award. We have to find a way to keep recognizing them and that’s why this award is so great.”
Previous award winners include Dean Smith, Pat Summitt and John Thompson Jr. as well as Lou Carnesecca and Gene Keady, who were both in attendance on Thursday.