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Old 08-08-2018, 11:59 AM   #26
usedtobe1
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Default Re: Tray Alexander

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Shows my depth about OU basketball history but I don't think I've ever heard the story about Lester Lane. How unfortunate for his family and everyone around the program. How do you think Lester would have done at OU?

Looking back do you think Denny should have been named head coach? I would assume we would have had a better chance with both Mark and Brent later on? Did Joe Ramsey do a good job?

Bob "Go-Go" Stevens sounds like a one of kind guy as well. The utilization of "Go-Go!" fits both coaching and the Marines so that transition went smooth for him I bet.
Lester Lane was a bit before my time but I read about him. He was called the “Pride of Purcell”. In HS he earned 15 letters and was all-state in 3 sports. He even has a street named after him in Purcell. He graduated from OU in 1955 after averaging 19.6 points per game in basketball. He was also OU’s last 3-sport letterman where he was a defensive back in football and a pole vaulter on the track team.

He was the only OU player to ever play on an Olympic basketball team. He was the starting PG on the1960 gold medal team and his teammates included Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.

Lester Lane died in September of 1973 and never even got to coach a practice. He and his wife purchased a house in Norman and he spent 1 night there and died the next day. He was 41 years old. He had played in a pickup game and said he wasn’t feeling well and went to the locker room. Denny Price went to check on him and he was already dead.

I do think Lester would have been a good coach. He knew basketball and was a very likable guy. I think he would have been a good recruiter.

Joe Ramsey was named coach after LL’s death but he only lasted 2 seasons before getting fired. He wasn’t real personable and I do think Denny Price would have been a better choice. I’m not really sure what got Ramsey fired though. His overall record was 31-21. He was 18-8 his first season but only 13-13 in his 2nd year.... I don’t think the team liked him. OU then hired a Bobby Knight disciple to be the next head coach: Dave Bliss.

The coach I knew best was Bob “Go-Go” Stevens because he liked for his teams to run. Kind of an early version of Billy Tubbs. Maybe that did fit the Marine personna.

History lesson completed.
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:03 PM   #27
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Default Re: Tray Alexander

I wonder how many other schools have hired coaches in various sports, only to have them pass away before they ever coach a game. It's happened to OU twice that I know of.
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:51 PM   #28
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Not if he moves into the district.
Correct. It’s been talked about in coaching circles. We’ll see if he stays or goes.
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Old 08-08-2018, 01:17 PM   #29
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Default Re: Tray Alexander

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I wonder how many other schools have hired coaches in various sports, only to have them pass away before they ever coach a game. It's happened to OU twice that I know of.
Who is the other?

In the span of six years, OU lost three key athletic department cogs to heart attacks:

Jim Mackenzie (football coach - 1967)
Gomer Jones (athletic director - 1971)
Lester Lane (basketball coach - 1973)
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Old 08-08-2018, 03:43 PM   #30
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Default Re: Tray Alexander

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Who is the other?

In the span of six years, OU lost three key athletic department cogs to heart attacks:

Jim Mackenzie (football coach - 1967)
Gomer Jones (athletic director - 1971)
Lester Lane (basketball coach - 1973)
It was Jim Mackenzie I was thinking of -- am I wrong that he died before he got to coach a game at OU?
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Old 08-08-2018, 03:44 PM   #31
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Default Re: Tray Alexander

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Lester Lane was a bit before my time but I read about him. He was called the “Pride of Purcell”. In HS he earned 15 letters and was all-state in 3 sports. He even has a street named after him in Purcell. He graduated from OU in 1955 after averaging 19.6 points per game in basketball. He was also OU’s last 3-sport letterman where he was a defensive back in football and a pole vaulter on the track team.

He was the only OU player to ever play on an Olympic basketball team. He was the starting PG on the1960 gold medal team and his teammates included Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.

Lester Lane died in September of 1973 and never even got to coach a practice. He and his wife purchased a house in Norman and he spent 1 night there and died the next day. He was 41 years old. He had played in a pickup game and said he wasn’t feeling well and went to the locker room. Denny Price went to check on him and he was already dead.

I do think Lester would have been a good coach. He knew basketball and was a very likable guy. I think he would have been a good recruiter.

Joe Ramsey was named coach after LL’s death but he only lasted 2 seasons before getting fired. He wasn’t real personable and I do think Denny Price would have been a better choice. I’m not really sure what got Ramsey fired though. His overall record was 31-21. He was 18-8 his first season but only 13-13 in his 2nd year.... I don’t think the team liked him. OU then hired a Bobby Knight disciple to be the next head coach: Dave Bliss.

The coach I knew best was Bob “Go-Go” Stevens because he liked for his teams to run. Kind of an early version of Billy Tubbs. Maybe that did fit the Marine personna.

History lesson completed.

Thanks for that info, Usedtobe1! Good stuff! One minor correction and one add-on. Lester Lane was the 1st OU player to play on the Olympics, but not the last. Wayman Tisdale was on the '84 Gold Medal team. As for what got Ramsey fired, it was probably not making the NCAA Tournament after inheriting the most decorated recruit in OU history (at that time) - Alvan Adams.
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Old 08-08-2018, 03:46 PM   #32
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It was Jim Mackenzie I was thinking of -- am I wrong that he died before he got to coach a game at OU?
He coached the team in 1966. It wasn't a great team, but had two noteworthy memories - 1) they beat Texas (their only win against Royal from '58 - '70), and 2) Mackenzie brought some pretty good assistant coaches with him - Chuck Fairbanks, Barry Switzer, and Larry Lacewell to name a few.
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Old 08-08-2018, 04:38 PM   #33
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Default Re: Tray Alexander

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He coached the team in 1966. It wasn't a great team, but had two noteworthy memories - 1) they beat Texas (their only win against Royal from '58 - '70), and 2) Mackenzie brought some pretty good assistant coaches with him - Chuck Fairbanks, Barry Switzer, and Larry Lacewell to name a few.
18-9!

How many fans of the 82,000+ on a Saturday afternoon have a clue about Jim Mackenzie's impact on Sooner football? I don't think it can be overstated. Things had become pretty stale toward the end of Wilkinson, and Gomer's two years were NO good.
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:53 PM   #34
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Default Re: Tray Alexander

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He coached the team in 1966. It wasn't a great team, but had two noteworthy memories - 1) they beat Texas (their only win against Royal from '58 - '70), and 2) Mackenzie brought some pretty good assistant coaches with him - Chuck Fairbanks, Barry Switzer, and Larry Lacewell to name a few.
Thanks for the correction. Sorry for the misinfo on my part.

I knew about his influence via those terrific hires, but I somehow had the idea he died before he ever got to coach the team (I was eight years old at the time, but that's no excuse).
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Old 08-10-2018, 10:03 AM   #35
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Default Re: Tray Alexander

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Thanks for the correction. Sorry for the misinfo on my part.

I knew about his influence via those terrific hires, but I somehow had the idea he died before he ever got to coach the team (I was eight years old at the time, but that's no excuse).
I was in Marine boot camp in early 1967 in San Diego. My mother would cut out OU articles from the Daily Oklahoman and mail them to me every week. I still remember opening the mail and reading about Jim MacKenzie dying and how shocked I was.

I also remember Gomer Jones dying. He was Bud’s top assistant but didn’t do well as the head coach so he was booted upstairs to AD. As I recall he traveled to New York with the basketball team while they played in the NIT when he suffered his heart attack.
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