Denny Crum: Wikis


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Denzil E. "Denny" Crum
Replace this image male.svg

Title Head Coach
Sport Basketball
Born March 2, 1937 (1937-03-02) (age 72)
Place of birth San Fernando, California
Career highlights
Overall 675-295
NCAA Tournament Championship (1980, 1986)
Regional Championships - Final Four (1972, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986)
Gold Medal, USA World University Games (1977)
National Coach of the Year (1980, 1983, 1986)
Metro Conference Coach of the Year
Playing career
Los Angeles Pierce College
Position Guard
Basketball Hall of Fame, 1994

Denzil E. "Denny" Crum (born March 2, 1937) is a former American men's college basketball coach at the University of Louisville from 1971 to 2001, compiling a 675–295 record. He guided the Cardinals to two NCAA championships (1980, 1986) and six Final Fours. Honored in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame since 1994, Crum is one of the major sports figures in the history of sports in Kentucky and in college basketball on a national scale. Many people consider him one of the greatest NCAA basketball coaches due to his ability to make in-game adjustments and decisions. He routinely recruited great athletes, particularly big guards and versatile forwards, and helped them become great basketball players.

As the head coach at U of L, Crum is widely credited with pioneering the now-common strategy of scheduling tough non-conference match-ups early in the season in order to prepare his teams for March's NCAA tournament, where one defeat ends the season. He also was an early user of the 2-2-1 zone press, and his teams' exciting style of play earned them the nickname "the Doctors of Dunk." Crum's prolific post-season play and calm demeanor earned him the monikers "Mr. March" and his most well-known nickname, "Cool Hand Luke."


Playing career

Crum was born in San Fernando, California. From 1954–1956, Denny Crum played basketball at Los Angeles Pierce College. In 1956, he transferred to UCLA to play for John Wooden. While at UCLA, Crum was honored with the Irv Pohlmeyer Memorial Trophy for outstanding first-year varsity player. He also received the Bruin Bench Award for most improved player the following year.[1]

Coaching career

After graduating in 1958, Crum served as a freshman coach under John Wooden at UCLA. The following year, he returned to Pierce College to serve as head coach. After four years at Pierce College, Crum was rehired by Wooden as a top assistant coach and chief recruiter. As a coach at UCLA, he accompanied Wooden to three NCAA titles.[2] He remained at UCLA until his departure for Louisville in 1971.

University of Louisville, 1971–2001

In 1971, Crum was hired as head coach by the University of Louisville, taking over from John Dromo. By 1972, Crum had taken his first team to the NCAA Final Four. Crum would go on to lead the Louisville Cardinals to five more final fours (1975, 1980, 1982, 1983, and 1986). He ranks sixth all-time in number of final four appearances behind John Wooden, Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, Mike Krzyzewski, and Roy Williams.[3]

On March 24, 1980, the Cardinals became NCAA Tournament champions after defeating Crum's alma mater, UCLA, 59–54. Crum's 1980 national champions have been credited with popularizing the High-5.[4] Six years later, Louisville would overcome Duke 72–69 for a second title. Crum is one of only eleven coaches to achieve two or more national championships.[5] In 30 seasons, Crum took the Cardinals to 23 NCAA tournaments, where they had an overall record of 43-23.

While in the Metro Conference, the Cardinals won 12 regular season titles and 11 tournament championships. In its 19 years of naming a champion, the Metro had Louisville as first or second place 17 times.

In 1993, Crum became the second fastest coach to reach 500 wins.[6] He ranks 16th in overall Division I wins.

Other coaching

Denny Crum coached the 1977 USA World University Team, where he won a gold medal. In 1987, he coached the Pan American team to a silver medal.

Coaching style

Crum had a number of trademark characteristics as a coach. He usually held a rolled up program in one hand during games and would often gesture with it. At Louisville, whose team colors are red and black, Crum sometimes wore a red blazer (often accompanied by a black shirt) on the sidelines.

On the court, Crum's teams were famous for running a man-to-man defense that switched on all picks. Crum was one of the few coaches to employ this strategy because it often leads to mismatches.

Offensively, Crum ran the high-post offense, one similar to that of his mentor at UCLA, John Wooden. From 1989 to 1996, four of Crum's post players (Pervis Ellison, Felton Spencer, Clifford Rozier, and Samaki Walker) were selected in the top 16 picks in the NBA draft, including three (all but Rozier) in the top ten.

Crum was also known for his ability to improvise late in games. His teams were notorious for scoring or getting a defensive stop right after timeouts, presumably because Crum would outcoach his opponents in the huddle. U of L teams under Crum were also known as "the Cardiac Cards" because some games against lesser competition were often closer than many fans expected them to be.


After winning the 1986 national championship, Crum's teams began to decline, never reaching another Final Four. Throughout the 1990s, they were consistently solid (reaching the Tournament in eight out of 10 years) but never seriously contended for a championship. The program received minor NCAA sanctions twice in the decade, though neither incident was linked to Crum.

Crum announced on his 64th birthday that he would be retiring at the end of the season. Though Crum insisted the decision was his, it is widely rumored that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich drove him out to pursue the recently available Rick Pitino.[7]

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Louisville Cardinals (Missouri Valley Conference) (1971–1975)
1971-1972 Louisville 26-5 12-2 T-1st NCAA Final Four
1972-1973 Louisville 23-7 11-3 2nd NIT Quartfinals
1973-1974 Louisville 21-7 11-1 1st NCAA Sweet 16
1974-1975 Louisville 28-3 12-2 1st NCAA Final Four
Louisville: 98-22 46-8
Louisville Cardinals (Metro Conference) (1975–1995)
1975-1976 Louisville 20-8 2-2 2nd NIT Quarterfinals
1976-1977 Louisville 21-7 6-1 1st NCAA 1st Round
1977-1978 Louisville 23-7 9-3 2nd NCAA Sweet 16
1978-1979 Louisville 24-8 9-1 1st NCAA Sweet 16
1979-1980 Louisville 33-3 12-0 1st NCAA Champion
1980-1981 Louisville 21-9 11-1 1st NCAA 2nd Round
1981-1982 Louisville 23-10 8-4 2nd NCAA Final Four
1982-1983 Louisville 32-4 12-0 1st NCAA Final Four
1983-1984 Louisville 24-11 11-3 T-1st NCAA Sweet 16
1984-1985 Louisville 19-18 - - NIT Semifinals
1985-1986 Louisville 32-7 10-2 1st NCAA Champion
1986-1987 Louisville 18-14 9-3 1st -
1987-1988 Louisville 24-11 9-3 1st NCAA Sweet 16
1988-1989 Louisville 24-9 8-4 T-2nd NCAA Sweet 16
1989-1990 Louisville 27-8 12-2 1st NCAA 2nd Round
1990-1991 Louisville 14-16 4-10 8th
1991-1992 Louisville 19-11 7-5 T-2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1992-1993 Louisville 22-9 11-1 1st NCAA Sweet 16
1993-1994 Louisville 28-6 10-2 1st NCAA Sweet 16
1994-1995 Louisville 19-14 7-5 T-2nd NCAA 1st Round
Louisville: 467-190 167-52
Louisville Cardinals (Conference USA) (1995–2001)
1995-1996 Louisville 22-12 10-4 T-3rd NCAA Sweet 16
1996-1997 Louisville 26-9 9-5 T-5th NCAA Elite 8
1997-1998 Louisville 12-20 9-5 5th (American) -
1998-1999 Louisville 19-11 11-5 2nd (American) NCAA 1st Round
1999-2000 Louisville 19-12 10-6 NCAA 1st Round
Louisville: 98-64 49-24
Total: 663-236

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion


In the 1980s, Crum was named National Coach of the Year three times (1980, 1983, 1986). He was awarded Metro Conference Coach of the year three times (1979, 1980, 1983). In 1980, he was also named the Sporting News Coach of the Year, the Basketball Weekly Coach of the Year, and the Basketball Weekly Man of the Year.[8]

In 1994 Crum was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

In 2002, Crum received the Legends of Coaching award given by the John R. Wooden Award Committee. This award recognizes "a coach's character, success rate on the court, graduating rate of student athletes, [and] his coaching philosophy".[9]

On February 7, 2007, Louisville's home floor at Freedom Hall was officially named "Denny Crum Court."[10]

Personal life

Since 2001, Denny Crum is married to Susan Sweeney Crum.[11] He has three children, Cynthia, Steve and Scott, from a previous marriage. He lives in Louisville and has a hunting ranch in Idaho.

Crum currently co-hosts a local radio talk show with former University of Kentucky head coach Joe B. Hall which airs on WKRD. The Joe B. and Denny Show is the top Fox Sports radio show in the state of Kentucky.[12]

He also plays professional poker[13] and collects western novels by Louis L'Amour.[1] For the past twenty years, Crum has also bred horses.[14]

Crum is still active at the University of Louisville, serving as a special assistant to university president James Ramsey and appearing at various functions with former Cardinal and pro-basketball player Darrell Griffith.[10]

See also


External links

Preceded by
John Dromo
University of Louisville
Head Basketball Coach

Succeeded by
Rick Pitino

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