Thursday October 11, 2007

Campus Report Oct 11, 2007

The University and nearly 2,300 people celebrated hall of fame coaches Donoher and Blackburn at UD Arena.

Former coach Don Donoher referred to the event as a Blackburn family reunion, a reference to his mentor and UD coach Tom Blackburn. He likened the gathering to aunts, uncles and cousins coming together to support the next generation and help lay the groundwork for it to create its own legacy. 

Part of that groundwork is transforming the former PAC into an on-campus basketball practice facility.

"We're all part of a grand fraternity," said Donoher, UD's winningest coach, after a raucous standing ovation. "This is a grand turnout tonight. This is a night to remember."

The nearly 2,300 people at UD Arena heard stories about and saw video tributes to the 1951, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1962, 1968, 1974, 1984, 1990 and 2003 teams, UD's seven All-Americans, Donoher and Blackburn.

"Tom Blackburn's emergence as a coach made Dayton the real pearl of Ohio college basketball," Knight said as part of his colorful keynote address. "Tom Blackburn coming to UD and Oscar Robertson going to UC did as much as anything for Ohio college basketball. The University of Dayton has a tremendous amount to do with the development of basketball in this state. A lot of the credit goes to Donoher."

Blackburn and Donoher combined for 789 wins, nine NCAA tournament trips and 18 NIT appearances, including two championships, in 32 years.

"All the fans should know what (Blackburn's) contribution was to the University of Dayton as far as the basketball program is concerned," UD All-American Bill Uhl Sr. said in one of the video tributes. "He made you work hard and that's what made us great."

Donoher led his 1967 squad to the NCAA championship game, a 79-64 loss to Lew Alcindor and UCLA.

"It was a springboard for (UD Arena)," Donoher said in March during a reception honoring the 1966-67 team. "After (we won) that regional final game, (former UD Director of Athletics) Tom Frericks said, ‘We just built an arena tonight.' Just think how this building has helped us stay in the big-time basketball scene.

"Tom Frericks was an impact player in UD athletics," Donoher added during the Celebration of Flyer Basketball. "Can you imagine UD and Dayton, Ohio, without this arena?"

Donoher credited Blackburn's widow, Libby, with making UD basketball games a place to be, even to this day.

"She was a one-man marketing machine for season tickets," said Donoher, who served on Knight's U.S. Olympic team coaching staff in 1984. "What you see in the stands on game night is Libby Blackburn's legacy."

The evening's emcee, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, called UD Arena one of the true gems in college basketball.

"The program we are celebrating tonight is a reflection of our (Ohio basketball) hall of fame coaches (Donoher and Blackburn)," current UD head coach Brian Gregory said. "I'm humbled and honored to be the head coach at UD. It's the coaches and players we're honoring tonight that make that possible. What an honor it is to coach on Tom Blackburn Court and walk into work everyday in the Donoher Center."