Sept. 19, 2006
Houston - The New England Basketball Hall of Fame announced that University of Houston head basketball coach Tom Penders will be among its class of inductees on October 6 at the University of Rhode Island.
Also among this year's class are: Jim Larranaga, who played at Providence and recently led George Mason to the Final Four; Satch Sanders, who played for the Boston Celtics and coached at Harvard, Jimmy Piersall, who played for the Boston Red Sox after an outstanding high school basketball career. Among the Division I players being inducted are Dana Barros of Boston College and Penders' backcourt mate Wes Bialosuknia, of Connecticut. The Division I coach being honored this year is former Vermont coach Tom Brennan.
The New England Basketball Hall of Fame honors high school, college and junior college players, coaches and referees who help basketball grow in the New England area. The Hall of Fame also honors special contributors who helped keep the sport growing in the area as well.
The Hall of Fame is honoring Penders for his achievements as a player at the University of Connecticut, where he played in both the NCAA Tournament and College World Series, and as a head coach at Tufts University and Rhode Island.
Penders was a point guard at Connecticut when the Huskies played in the 1965 and 1967 NCAA Tournaments. He played in 73 games and scored 627 points throughout his career. He also was a member of UConn's 1965 baseball team that advanced to the World Series in 1965.
He began his collegiate coaching career at Tufts in 1971, taking over a 1-17 team and turning it around with 12-8, 22-4 and 20-6 records in each of the next three seasons. His 1972-73 team also won the ECAC Championship. One of his players, Willie Young, also set a school record for most points in a season and ranks second among the school's all-time scoring leaders.
After successful stops at Columbia and Fordham, Penders took over Rhode Island's program on October 4, 1986. With just two weeks of practice to prepare his team, he guided the Rams to a 20-10 record and a NIT berth, earning him Atlantic 10 Co-Coach of the Year with John Chaney.
The next season, Rhode Island advanced to the 1988 NCAA Tournament, where the Rams beat Missouri and Syracuse in the first two rounds, and lost, 73-72, to Duke in a Sweet 16 match-up.
He left Rhode Island to coach at Texas for the next 10 seasons and at George Washington for three years before being named Houston's head coach in 2004.