Coach Hugh Durham - University Of Georgia basketball Coach

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MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE GEORGIA BULLDOG COACH

Cecil Buffington ~ Coach Hugh Durham is my all-time favorite Georgia Bulldog coach.

We became friends in Athens when I had him address several Gold Kist management annual meetings and training classes in the early eighties.

He would call me on occasion and invite me to dinner at his home on the Jefferson Road.

On other occasions he would call me to be his whipping boy in racketball over at the YMCA. He was a senior world-class racketball player with several national titles in his possession. He would beat me like a drum.

One year he purchased tickets from me for the Georgia Poultry Federation Knight of Nights Banquet in Atlanta. He and wife, Melinda, attended the event and sat at the Gold Kist Athens table. He must have signed 200 autographs that night and never once complained.

Glad to see him make the National Collegiate Hall of Fame in 2016.

 

The Bulldog Years Of Coach Hugh Durham

 

Hugh Nelson Durham (born October 26, 1937) is a retired American basketball coach. He was head coach at Florida State, Georgia, and Jacksonville.

He is the only head coach to have led two different programs to their first Final Four appearances.

Georgia Bulldogs

Prior to the 1978-79 season, Durham was named head coach at the University of Georgia. Before Durham arrived in Athens, Georgia had never been to either the NCAA or NIT Tournaments, never won an SEC regular season title and never won an SEC Tournament championship.

Durham immediately embarked on a remarkable transformation project that produced the most prolific era of Georgia basketball still to this date. Durham's efforts produced virtual overnight success as from 1981 to 1991, he led Georgia to five NCAA Tournaments, four NIT Tournaments, the 1983 NCAA Final Four, the 1982 NIT Final Four, the 1983 SEC Tournament Championship and the 1990 SEC Championship.

In that same span, Durham was named SEC Coach of the Year four times. In 1980-81, only his third season at Georgia, Durham was voted his first of four SEC Coach of the Year awards.

That season, Durham led Georgia to the school's first ever post-season tournament as the Bulldogs received an NIT bid.

UGA also reached the 1981 SEC Tournament Championship Game behind the electric play of Dominique Wilkins, Terry Fair, Vern Fleming and James Banks. In 1981-82, the Bulldogs advanced to the NIT Final Four by defeating Temple, Maryland and Virginia Tech. The Bulldogs lost to Purdue, 61-60, in the NIT Semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York. Again, Wilkins, Fair, Fleming, and Banks led the Bulldogs.

After the 1981-82 season, All-American and future National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, Dominique Wilkins, entered the NBA Draft after his junior year at UGA. As a result, not much was expected of the 1982-83 Georgia basketball team and the Dawgs were picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC going into the season. However, in 1982-83 behind one of the finest coaching performances in NCAA history with a starting lineup measuring only 6-7, 6-6, 6-5, 6-5 and 6-2, Durham led the Bulldogs to without question the greatest single season in Georgia basketball history.

The Bulldogs won the 1983 SEC Tournament championship, the first SEC basketball championship in school history. As a result of the title, Georgia earned its first NCAA Tournament bid in school history on the way to a 24-10 record. In the 48 team NCAA field, the Bulldogs were seeded fourth in the NCAA East Region. Durham again shocked the basketball world by leading the Bulldogs to the 1983 NCAA Final Four.

Georgia became one of the few teams since the NCAA Tournament began in 1939 to reach the NCAA Final Four in its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Georgia beat VCU by two points in its first game in Greensboro to advance to the NCAA East Region in Syracuse, NY. This Georgia squad was another of Durham's patented formula of talent, intensity and defensive focus.

As with his 1972 FSU team, Durham's squad was given little chance in the Tournament. The starters were Vern Fleming, Terry Fair, James Banks, Lamar Heard and Gerald Crosby with Richard Corhen, Donald Hartry, Derrick Floyd and Horace McMillan coming off the bench. In the East Region Semifinals, Georgia upset the Big East Champion and #3 ranked St. John's University, 70-67. The Redmen were coached by Lou Carnesecca and led by Chris Mullin and Bill Wennington. The Redmen had been #1 seed in the East Region and were dubbed 'The Beast of the East.'

In the East Region Finals, the Bulldogs upset defending NCAA champion North Carolina, 82-77. UNC, the champion of the ACC, was led by Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Brad Daugherty. UNC was coached by Dean Smith. Remember the UGA front line was 6-7, 6-6, and 6-5. UNC's front line was 7-0, 6-11, and 6-8. With just over 90 second left in the game, Georgia led by 15 points and the Tar Heel Radio Network crew had to cancel the reservations to the Final Four in Albuquerque it had made prior to the start of the game against Georgia.

The 1983 NCAA Final Four was in Albuquerque, NM. The Bulldogs lost in the NCAA Semifinals to eventual champion North Carolina State, 67-60. The Wolfpack was coached by the late Jim Valvano and led by Derrick Wittenberg, Sidney Lowe, Thurl Bailey, and Lorenzo Charles. Georgia's 6-7 center Terry Fair suffered a knee injury at Friday's practice and was severely limited against NC State's 6-11, 6-10, 6-7 front line. Fair, a senior and former McDonald's All-American in high school, had scored 27 points in Georgia' NCAA Regional Semifinal win against St. John's.

In 1984-85, the Bulldogs returned to the NCAA Tournament finishing the season with a 22-9 record. In another milestone for Durham, Georgia defeated Kentucky in Lexington, 79-77. It was the first win for Georgia over Kentucky in Lexington since 1923. The Bulldogs were led by Joe Ward, Cedric Henderson, Gerald Crosby, Donald Hartry, Horace McMillan, and Richard Corhen.

In 1985-86, Durham was again named SEC Coach of the Year.

In 1986-87, Durham was voted SEC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year as Georgia earned its third NCAA Tournament bid in five seasons behind the play of Willie Anderson, Chad Kessler, Derrick Kirce, Eric Burdette, Dennis Williams, and Patrick Hamilton.

In 1989-90, Durham led Georgia to the school's first ever SEC regular season Championship and another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Georgia outlasted LSU and Shaquille O'Neal to clinch the SEC title in a heart pounding game in Athens that was nationally televised. A free throw by Neville Austin with five seconds left in overtime gave Georgia the 85-84 owin. Alec Kessler scored 30 points. Durham was voted SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in ten seasons. The 20-9 Bulldogs were led by the late Alec Kessler, Litterial Green, Marshall Wilson, Antonio Harvey, and Neville Austin.

In 1990-91, Georgia advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in nine seasons behind the play of Litterial Green, Rod Cole, Jody Patton, Marshall Wilson, Antonio Harvey, and Neville Austin.

In 1994-95, Durham finished his career at Georgia by leading the Bulldogs to their 12th post-season tournament appearance in his 17 seasons as head coach. He is the most successful coach in Georgia history with a record of 297-215. Durham remains the only coach to ever lead Georgia to the NCAA Final Four.

Durham was inducted into the Florida State University Hall of Fame in 1980, the Kentucky High School Hall of Fame in 1994, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2009, the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Cecil Buffington ~ Coach Hugh Durham is my all-time favorite Georgia Bulldog coach. We bacame friends in Athens when I had him address several Gold Kist management annual meetings and training classes. He would call me on occasion and invite me to dinner at his home on the Jefferson Road. On other occasions he would call me to be his whipping boy in racketball over at the YMCA. He was a senior world-class racketball player with several national titles in his possession. One year he purchased tickets from me for the Georgia Poultry Federation Knight of Nights Banquet in Atlanta. He and wife, Melinda, attended the event and sat at the Gold Kist Athens table. He must have signed 200 autographs that night and never once complained. Glad to see him make the National Collegiate Hall of Fame in 2016. I received this little note from him after the Southeastern Poultry Banquet in Atlanta in 1984.

The UGA men's basketball team, holding its third-place NCAA trophy, poses with Uga, the school mascot, on the tarmac of the airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1983 the team played in its first NCAA tournament, advancing to the Final Four before losing to North Carolina State University, the eventual champion.

The 1983-84 Georgia Bulldogs lost to Coach Jim Valvano and his North Carolina Wolfpack in the NCAA Final Four.