As career highlights go, “last man to defeat John Wooden” is about as impressive as they come.
Marv Harshman, former head coach at Washington, Washington State and Pacific Lutheran, had that honor, just one of many moments to cherish from his 40 year career as a head coach. According to the Seattle Times, the 95-year-old basketball Hall of Famer died of natural causes at age 95 on Friday morning. He had one last evening with his son, who read to him from the bible, and then fell asleep, never to wake again.
Coach Harshman led his alma mater, Pacific Lutheran, to four NAIA District I titles before moving up to Washington State, where he came in second in the Pac 8 to John Wooden on two occasions. He continued to be overshadowed by the Wizard of Westwood as head coach of the Huskies, but earned his landmark victory – at last:
Coach Harshman was the last coach to beat Wooden — a 103-81 Huskies victory over UCLA on Feb. 22, 1975.
Coach Harshman’s most accomplished players included Steve Hawes, Louie Nelson, James Edwards, Detlef Schrempf, Chris Welp and current UW coach Lorenzo Romar and assistant Paul Fortier.
It was former NBA star Schrempf who summed up Harshman’s sometimes overlooked impact on the game best, when interviewed by the Times this weekend.
“All the players took the same steps. It was based on team basketball. He didn’t care about showing other people up. Or how many times you can dribble between your legs. He taught me how to play basketball the right way, and that had a lasting impact on me and many people,” Schrempf said.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.