Don Haskins only coached in one Final Four, but it was arguably the most important such appearance in history. Haskins led the Texas Western Miners in 1966 when the team started an all-African-American lineup against an all-white Kentucky team in the final. The result has been called the Brown v. Board of Education of college basketball. Texas Western (which changed its name to the University of Texas at El Paso the following summer) won the national title, and segregated teams were instantly on their way out.
That game was the subject of a recent movie that shares the title of Haskins' autobiography, Glory Road. Haskins, a no-frills personality if there ever was one, tells the overdue story about how a team from El Paso came out of virtually nowhere to change the game forever. Haskins loved to coach, and he liked to win. He did both with boys' and girls' prep teams, and won several hundred games once he took over at Texas Western.
Haskins has a simple yet eloquent explanation as to why his team had five black starters: I just started my best players. Isn't that what coaching is all about? It didn't occur to him to do anything else. It's nice to get his memories on paper in this entertaining memoir, written with Dan Wetzel.
Budd Bailey works in the sports department of the Buffalo News.