Eddie Sutton died Saturday. Dennis Burbank and John Potter, who played their final season of college basketball during Sutton's first season at Oklahoma State, were recently asked if the coach made a positive impact on their lives. Here are their responses.
On the floor and off the floor, he made me a better player, a better man. He made me a better husband.
Honestly, if you went back to my high school and you say ‘What was Dennis like in high school?,’ I was cocky and brash. Like in high school if we had to condition, I would say ‘gosh dang coach, I didn’t join the track team.’ That’s just kind of the personality I had.
One of the things coach Sutton taught me was just shut up and play. Just keep your mouth shut and go as hard as you can. He always used to say there as many bad things as good things that are going to happen. It all evens out. So stop crying about just one bad thing. You’re going to get a good thing here around the corner.
When I went home after college, I’ll never forget this. My best friend from high school said ‘Man, you are changed. You act different. You work different. Everything is different.’ I said it was coach Sutton. Coach Sutton really taught me that.
(I am grateful to him for) allowing me to be on that team when maybe another coach may not have seen what I had to offer and not let me be on the team, (and for him) letting me work as hard as I could. That’s as hard as I have ever worked in my life to be on a team. Allowing me to do that, through the failures and the successes, I’m a better person today because I played for Eddie Sutton.
“Absolutely. I’m going to go so far as to say he made a bigger impact on my life than he did basketball, just from the standpoint that I needed to grow up. I graduated high school at 17. I didn’t turn 18 until the end of July, going into my freshman year....
I wish I would have redshirted at some point, but I never did. I needed to grow up. I needed somebody to challenge me in the right way. He had a unique way that he could discipline you and let you know why he was disciplining you and get something positive out of it rather than just pissing you off.”
From 2014: Eddie Sutton on Basketball Hall of Fame