Manning, Brown prepare to reunite as coaching foes
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
10/10/12 at 3:30 AM
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IRVING, Texas - In February, during a visit to Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, former University of Kansas coach Larry Brown and then-Jayhawks assistant Danny Manning were reunited.
"(Manning) called me into his office and asked what I thought about him becoming a head coach," Brown recalls. "I said, 'Are you kidding? You'll be as good as any.' He told me that for the first time, he was really thinking about it.
"I always looked at Danny as becoming a pro coach. As (an NBA player), the younger guys used to gravitate toward him. He had such a feel for the game."
Within a few weeks of their conversation, Manning did become a head coach (at the University of Tulsa) and Brown returned to college basketball (as SMU's head man) for the first time in 24 years.
The 72-year-old Brown hadn't coached at the college level since April 4, 1988, when he and the Jayhawks upset heavily favored Oklahoma 83-79 for the NCAA championship. Brown had several role players and one superstar - Manning, a senior forward who scored 31 points against the Sooners and was voted the tournament's most outstanding player. That KU team was nicknamed "Danny and the Miracles."
Now, Manning and Brown are opposing coaches in Conference USA - but only for one season. Next year, SMU, Houston, Memphis and UCF are leaving C-USA for membership in the Big East.
During the 2012-13 regular season, the Golden Hurricane and SMU are matched twice - on Jan. 6 in Dallas and on March 6 in Tulsa.
"I want to see Danny do well," Brown said during Tuesday's Conference USA basketball media event. "He'll be every bit as good a coach as he was a player. He's been a big part of my life. I'm excited about the opportunity he has in Tulsa."
During an interview, Brown's smartphone began to ring.
"I'm sorry. I don't know how to turn it off, or I would," Brown said. "I'm just learning how to use it. My son got me that phone. I absolutely know nothing about it."
The Manning-Brown relationship has been sustained through the years. While Brown coached the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats during a span of 23 seasons, Manning had a 15-year NBA run. Manning was on the Kansas staff in 2003-12.
On Tuesday morning, before the interview session began, Manning and Brown talked in a hotel lobby.
"For the most part, we really don't talk much about what happened at Kansas," Manning said. "We ask about each other's families. It's more than a player-coach relationship. It's a friendship.
"We know we'll butt heads in recruiting and on the court. We'll try to beat each other's brains out on the court, but that won't change the relationship."
While Brown refers to Manning as "Danny," the 46-year-old Manning never addresses his former coach as "Larry."
"No, never," Manning said. "He's Coach Brown. Always Coach Brown."
In the months that followed his December 2010 resignation from the Bobcats, Brown was a regular presence at Kansas practice sessions. He was a significant figure not only in the basketball life of Manning, but of current Jayhawk coach Bill Self. In 1985, Self got his coaching start as a graduate assistant with Brown's Jayhawks.
Brown remains the only coach to have captured an NCAA title and an NBA championship (with the Pistons in 2004). He accepted SMU's head-coaching position a full 10 years after having been enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
"I want to do for our kids at Tulsa the same thing that Coach Brown did for us at Kansas," Manning said. "He made us better people. He made us better basketball players. We graduated. He helped prepare us for life.
"From a coaching standpoint, for me, it's all about technique and detail. When I'm cut down to the core, I'm a technique-and-detail coach. I got that from playing professionally and from playing for coach Brown at Kansas."
Vs. Emporia (Kan.) State
3:05 p.m. Oct. 27
Original Print Headline: Manning, Brown to reunite as foes
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
First-year SMU coach Larry Brown and new TU coach Danny Manning both have Kansas and NBA ties. Now they'll face off as opposing coaches. JEREMIAH INGRAM / Courtesy