Don Meyer, one of the most successful and winningest college basketball coaches the game has seen, passed away on Sunday in South Dakota following a battle with cancer. Meyer was 69.
The former head coach at Lipscomb, Northern State and Hamline, Meyer went 923-324 during a 38-year career. Meyer had recently gone into hospice care and passed away at 6:52 a.m. on Sunday at his home in Aberdeen, according to family spokesperson Brenda Dreyer.
Meyer retired in 2010 as the NCAA’s winningest coach in men’s basketball history. After surviving a near-fatal car accident and a diagnosis of liver cancer in 2009, Meyer passed Bobby Knight for the NCAA wins record later in the same year. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski later passed Meyer’s wins mark in 2012.
Meyer was remarkably consistent in his 38-year career, as he only had four losing seasons. The legendary head coach left a big mark on the game of college basketball through his camps and coaching clinics and Meyer compiled records of 37-41 at Hamline, 665-179 at Lipscomb, and 221-104 at Northern State.
The head coach was also honored with ESPN’s Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2009 ESPY Awards and also was given the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August 2010.
Meyer graduated from Norther Colorado in 1967 after playing basketball and baseball and he began his head coaching career with three seasons at Hamline in 1972.
After his time at Hamline, Meyer spent 24 seasons at Lipscomb which included a title in 1986 and Meyer twice earning NAIA coach of the year honors. Meyer closed out his career at Northern State in 1999, which included a streak of seven straight 20-win seasons.
Meyer is survived by his wife Carmen and three children.
The Meyer family set up a website to honor Don Meyer’s life and coaching career.
With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.
Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.
“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”
Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.
As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.
Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.
“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.
“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”
Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group. Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.
As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.