College Basketball Tonight
The man affectionately known as “Tark the Shark” passed away today at the age of 84.
The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels became a college hoops dynasty and won the 1990 National Championship led by towel-chewing coach Jerry Tarkanian. Tarkanian took UNLV to four Final Fours, his first came during the 1976-1977 season.
Tarkanian preached attacking defense, but his teams embraced an up-tempo style well ahead of its time. Before the shot clock era and three point line, Tarkanian’s ’76-77 team scored 100+ points 23 times that season. Tarkanian put together one of the most dominant college basketball teams ever and cut down the nets in 1990 by overpowering the Duke Blue Devils. That Rebels team was led by Larry Johnson, Stacy Augmon, and Greg Anthony and entered the NCAA Tournament the next season undefeated before falling to Duke in the National Semifinal.
With a career record of 729-201, Tarkanian ranks eighth all-time in winning percentage among Division-1 coaches with a .784 mark.
“It’s another sad day for those who love college basketball and the people who have contributed so much to our game,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said in a statement Wednesday. “‘Tark’ was a great coach, better than people gave him credit for, and he loved college basketball.”
Tarkanian built his program and won with players several other schools did not want to touch. Because of checkered pasts and questionable recruiting practices, Tarkanian almost always seemed to be under some sort of NCAA investigation until his retirement in 2002.
Tarkanian was elected to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2013, an honor that was long overdue.