March 27, 2011
HOUSTON - As the eyes of the college basketball world focus on Houston with the NCAA Final Four this weekend, the University of Houston Athletics Department and UH Alumni Association will pay homage to one of the sport's greatest figures on Friday.
Head coach Guy V. Lewis will be recognized for his contributions to college basketball at the University and across the nation, beginning at 11:30 a.m., Friday, April 1, in the John O'Quinn Great Hall of the Athletics/Alumni Center.
Many of Lewis' former players, including those from his five NCAA Final Four teams, will be on hand to celebrate Houston's basketball pioneer. Public tickets are available for only $5 each and can be purchased at HoustonAlumni.com. A light lunch will be served following the program.
This is a limited capacity event, so fans are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets soon.
This event is presented by the University of Houston Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, University of Houston Alumni Association, Liberty Mutual, Irma's Southwest Grill, Select Asset Management and SportsTalk 790 AM.
ABOUT GUY V. LEWIS
Lewis led the Cougars from 1956 to 1986, recording 592 wins and 27 consecutive seasons without a losing record. His list of accomplishments reads like the legacy of a Hall of Fame head coach, and those achievements outshine many of the sports' biggest names.
Here are just a few of Lewis' remarkable milestones:
Two NCAA National Championship Game appearances (1984, 1983)
Five NCAA Final Four appearances (1984), 1983, 1982, 1968, 1967)
Guided three of the NBA's Top-50 All-Time Greatest Players (Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler)
14 NCAA Tournament berths
Six Southwest Conference championships
11 NBA Draft first-round picks
Two National Coach of the Year awards
Lewis led the Cougars to their first NCAA Final Four appearances in the mid 1960s and did so as a trail-blazing leader. With his recruitment of high school stars Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney from Louisiana, he was the first major college coach in the South to recruit African-Americans.
Those two players led the Cougars to the 1967 and 1968 NCAA Final Fours while combining for more than 4,000 points and nearly 2,100 rebounds during their careers.
Most importantly, they paved the way for future African-American student-athletes who contributed and continue to contribute to the success of the Cougar program.
GAME OF THE CENTURY
Lewis also played a key role in one of the most influential games in college basketball history. On the night of Jan. 20, 1968, his second-ranked Cougars played host to No. 1 UCLA inside the Houston Astrodome.
While nearly 53,000 fans filled the arena, many, many more watched it across the nation in the NCAA's first televised regular-season game. None of those fans were disappointed.
Hayes led all players with 39 points and 15 rebounds, while limiting Lew Alcindor to only 15 points as the Cougars claimed a 71-69 win and took over the top spot in the Associated Press poll for the remainder of the regular season.
Every year, college basketball fans succumb to a fast-spreading virus known as March Madness. Under Lewis' guidance, the Game of the Century showcased to the nation the great game of college basketball and demonstrated the growing popularity of the sport.
A PLAYER IN HIS OWN RIGHT
While Lewis is acclaimed in the college basketball world for his accomplishments on the sidelines, many fans forget that he was an outstanding player for the Cougars in the 1940s.
He served as captain of the first two teams in program history in 1946 and 1946-47 and ranks eighth in school career history with 20.3 points per game.
Lewis was a two-time All-Lone Star Conference First-Team honoree and led the Cougars to a pair of NAIB Tournament appearances. In 2007, he was honored as the one of Top 75 players in the history of the Lone Star Conference.
To this day, Lewis remains the only person in Houston Athletics history to be enshrined in the Hall of Honor as both a student-athlete (1971) and head coach (1998).