John Klein: ORU's Ken Trickey changed basketball in Oklahoma
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Friday, December 07, 2012
12/07/12 at 3:48 AM
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Ken Trickey may have been among the two most influential coaches in Oklahoma college basketball history.
Trickey came to Oral Roberts at a time when basketball remained clearly dominated by the large shadow of Henry Iba at Oklahoma State.
Iba's mantra of defense and rebounding dominated this state and remained the primary style of college basketball nationwide.
Trickey showed up in south Tulsa preaching offense.
It was from his basketball pulpit at ORU that Trickey changed the culture of basketball in our state and built a nationally-prominent program in just five years.
Trickey died this week at age 79.
"Ken had a huge influence in basketball not only in this state but all over the country," said former Kansas coach Ted Owens. "What he did at Oral Roberts is amazing."
Trickey was the architect of a college basketball program that played in and hosted the most significant college basketball game in our state's history.
In 1974, ORU reached the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight against Kansas at the deluxe Mabee Center in south Tulsa. Kansas won in overtime.
"It was an unbelievable event for a lot of reasons," said Ted Owens, who coached KU at the time and now lives in Tulsa.
"Just a few years earlier, when ORU decided to go to Division I basketball, Ken brought his staff up to Kansas to talk about what they needed. We went over everything that you need to do to play Division I."
Just a few years later, Owens brought the Jayhawks to Tulsa to face ORU with a Final Four berth on the line.
"That they could get to that level so quick was amazing," said Owens.
It is generally acknowledged that Trickey's success at ORU spurred basketball revivals at the state's other three schools.
At the same time that Trickey was winning big, Eddie Sutton was breathing life into basketball at Arkansas, a traditional football school.
Those two influences showed Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa what was possible by playing high-level basketball.
Many believe what Trickey did at ORU was a powerful motivation for Tulsa to hire Nolan Richardson and for Oklahoma to hire Billy Tubbs.
Richardson and Tubbs both believed in up-tempo basketball. Richardson breathed life into TU basketball and Tubbs took OU basketball to the national finals.
Eventually, pushed by basketball success at the other state schools, OSU hired Sutton who revived basketball at Iba's school and put the Cowboys in two Final Fours.
Trickey's transformation at Oral Roberts was the most dramatic.
He took over a basketball program where none existed at the Division I level and turned it into a national power in five years.
He took basketball from a small gym in the middle of ORU's space-age campus to the Mabee Center, perhaps the most luxurious college basketball arena at the time and still considered a showplace.
He did it by swimming against the tide.
Iba's success at OSU had led to widespread acceptance of a style of basketball that stressed defense and rebounding. It is a style of defense still used by most of the major coaches in the sport today.
However, Trickey was at the forefront of a style of offense that has since swept the nation.
Trickey believed to attract fans he needed to entertain fans. The best way to entertain them, he believed, was scoring 100 points and playing "run and gun" offense.
Trickey run and gunned his team into national prominence, scoring more than 100 points in 55 games in five years.
Even the traditional powers like Kansas took notice.
"You bet we noticed," said Owens. "It was incredible what they were doing at ORU. They were scoring all of those points and they were selling out a big arena. People loved it.
"What you have to remember about those ORU teams is that they were scoring 100 points in all of those games without a shot clock. It was unbelievable what was happening."
It remains one of the high-water marks for college basketball in this state.
Since Trickey, both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have reached a couple of Final Fours. Tulsa got to the Elite Eight in 2000, 26 years after ORU reached that level.
A long list of influential and powerful basketball coaches in our state have followed including Sutton, Tubbs, Richardson, Kelvin Sampson, Tubby Smith and Bill Self. All contributed to basketball's growth in Oklahoma and indirectly led to an NBA franchise in Oklahoma City.
Trickey remained humble. He always said his teams played that way because that's what folks wanted to see.
But the magic is that Trickey knew it long before others even dreamed about it.
Original Print Headline: Trickey changed the game
Trickey memorial service to be in 2013
Family members of former Oral Roberts basketball coach Ken Trickey, who died Tuesday, indicated that a celebration of his life will be held sometime in 2013.
Trickey spent two stints (1969-74, 1987-93) as head coach for a total of 11 years and left in 1993 as the winningest coach in school history, having since been passed by current head coach Scott Sutton.
"Coach Trickey was a great part of ORU's history," ORU President Dr. Mark Rutland said. "He created an exciting and fun basketball program that competed at the highest level, while maintaining our integrity and mission. Thanks to his work ORU became known throughout the nation. The ORU community is praying for the Trickey family."
In his first five seasons, Trickey led ORU to three postseason appearances, including a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1974.
Trickey was elected into the ORU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the first coach inducted. He coached six All-Americans at ORU, including Hall of Famers Richard Fuqua and Anthony Roberts, and had 10 players drafted by the NBA or ABA.
"Ken Trickey was a pioneer in the industry in terms of offensive basketball," Athletic Director Mike Carter said. "He brought significant recognition to the university because of his success at ORU, and his program put ORU athletics on the national map in the 1970s. We are grateful for his significant contributions to ORU athletics and will miss him."
- JIMMIE TRAMEL, World Sports Writer
Oral Roberts (left) chats with Ken Trickey during an NCAA tournament game between Kansas and Creighton at the Mabee Center in 1974. Tulsa World file
Ken Trickey: He led ORU to the Elite Eight in 1974, falling to Kansas