Last week, our esteemed coaches told you the coaches they’d most want to play for and the toughest ones to face. This week, in light of the ejections of Dan Hurley and Frank Haith in the UConn/Tulsa game, we asked our coaches to reminisce about their most memorable technicals.
Dan Dakich: “My first game as a head coach, playing at St. Bonaventure, 14 seconds into my first game. The referee was a guy that former St. Bonnie coaches told me has won more games for St. Bonnie than any coach or player. He was a jackass to me when he came on the court. He went over to Jim Baron, the head coach, and it was like old home week. I think Jim’s wife gave him cookies. So when it’s time to throw the ball up, the guy threw it so crooked to St. Bonnie they just tapped it back. So I said, ‘Hey, at least don’t cheat us.’ And the guy looked at me and said, ‘I’m not taking any of that Bobby Knight B.S.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ and he gave me a technical. I never stood up, never swore, just sat there.”
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Fran Fraschilla: “The one I deserved but I didn’t get. It was in a heated rivalry game between Manhattan and Siena in Draddy Gymnasium. I had a tendency to drink a lot of water and always had a bottle by my side. In the heat of the moment after one, my players fouled a Siena player, I kicked the ground and inadvertently kicked a water bottle 80 feet to the other foul line. The other coach was screaming for me to get a T, but the official, Mike Kitts (who later became a Final Four-level official), picked up the water bottle, calmly walked over to me and said, ‘Just tell me you didn’t do this on purpose.’ I’d been annoyed with the player, not the call, and said it was an accident. He responded, ‘That’s what I thought,’ and gave me the water bottle back — and I was not assessed the T. My previous experience of being somewhat emotional but never really at the official probably helped there. I usually enjoyed a good relationship with officials despite my sideline demeanor — and coach Mike Deane screaming like a madman for a T. I got off for good behavior.”
Seth Greenberg: “No doubt, getting thrown out at Duke, my first game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was our [Virginia Tech‘s] first year in the ACC, we had a young team, and it did not start pretty. Three of our best players got into foul trouble early, and the game was over probably 10 minutes in. With about 1:09 left, I didn’t get one T. I got two T’s. I got tossed. I was making a statement in that game: We weren’t in the ACC to be an opponent, we were in it to compete and win. We weren’t going to back down to anyone, and I wasn’t going to back down to the tradition of Duke and Coach K and Cameron Indoor, and I was going to stand there beside my team, my players and fight with them. I was making a statement to our fans, our players, to the league that we weren’t there to just be someone to play on Thursday or Saturday night. We were going to compete, fight and not back down. But two weeks later, we played Duke again — after they beat us by like 100 — at our place, they were No. 1 in the country, and we beat them. Those two technicals created kind of a rallying cry and were basically symbolic of the mindset and attitude we were trying to create. We’d inherited a program that two years before was worst in the Big East. We were picked last in the ACC. That mindset created ownership in our fan base, in our students, in the Virginia Tech community, and it sent a message to our team that I was not just coaching them. I was going to be in it and fight for them.”
Dan Dakich: “As an assistant at Indiana, I would have loved to coach Brian Cardinal, who ended up played in NBA. He by all accounts wanted to come, but our other assistant coach kind of passed on him. I loved the kid. At Bowling Green, there was a kid name Joe Reitz. Joe ended up playing in the NFL for about six or seven years, but he played basketball at Western Michigan in college, not football. He was a really tough, really great guy.”
Fran Fraschilla: “Duke‘s Elton Brand. When I was at St. John’s, I recruited off one of the greatest AAU summer teams of all time: Riverside Church. It was a legendary basketball program in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s that had produced the likes of Chris Mullin and Malik Sealy. Elton played on a team that included Ron Artest, Erick Barkley, Reggie Jesse and Anthony Glover. This made up one of the best summer teams of all time. I was able to convince four of those guys to sign at St. John’s … but Elton was the hardest one. He enjoyed playing with his summer league teammates, but for me, battling Coach K and the Duke mystique was no easy task. It was daunting driving up to Peekskill (New York) to convince Mrs. Brand that St. John’s was the better college destination than the hallowed grounds of Duke University. He let me down easy. As it turned out, he’s one of Duke’s all-time great players, had a long NBA career and is now off to a terrific start as an NBA executive, as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers.”
Seth Greenberg: “Tyshawn Taylor, who ended up at Kansas, is a kid that we identified early. He would have been terrific in the backcourt, back in the lane. He was at St. Anthony High School, playing for Hall of Fame coach Bobby Hurley Sr. I saw him at a spring event and just fell in love. Once a week in Jersey City, where he was playing off the beaten path in a Jersey City league, I’d sit there with Coach Hurley and watch him play. I developed a really close relationship with him. We were so close that when his dad passed away during the course of recruitment, I still remember getting a phone call from him while I was sitting in Lane Stadium watching a football game. Out of the blue, he gives me a call and just needed to talk. So I got up, walked to my office, and for the next hour, we talked. He just needed someone to talk to. I remember coming back in the fourth quarter, and my assistant coach said, ‘Coach, there’s no way we’re not getting that kid. That kid believes in you and trusts you.’ And sure enough, we lost him. Which, you know, was obviously tough, but those things happen.”
For more from ESPN’s stable of college hoops coaches, tune in weekly for the Courtside with Greenberg and Dakich podcast.