Bill Detrick Feature And Additional Notes On A Connecticut Coaching Legend

Hopefully you've had the chance to read the Courant's career look-back feature on the legendary Bill Detrick, who was the men's basketball coach at Central Connecticut for 29 years and men's golf coach at Trinity for 23.

Detrick, 86, retired last month and he's without a season to prepare for, for the first time in 60-plus years. In putting together the story, I sat with Detrick for over three hours and spoke to several of his former players and colleagues.

Sixty-plus years, that's a long time, a lot of stories -- and Detrick, I think, tried to tell every single one of them over lunch. Not all of them could make it into the story that ran in the Sunday Courant, of course. Also, The Courant couldn't give every one of his former players a voice in that story. (Detrick passed along names and numbers for about 30.)

Here, we'll share a few more stories that Detrick told, a blog version of out-takes, I guess. First, let's share something from a former Detrick player.

See, even after the story ran, the fond memories of those who played for Detrick were still coming in. John Murphy reached out via email shortly after the Detrick story was posted online Saturday evening. Murphy, a 1992 Coast Guard Academy graduate, played his sophomore season for Detrick, who was interim coach at the Academy in 1989-90.

Writes Murphy ...

As most can guess, the 4-year exerience at the Academy is quite an "adventure".  A cadet can be tested to the limits of emotional and physical endurance.  All college students get tested and have to learn to grow into strong, contributing adults.  The Academy was one of the best experiences of my life.

As a 4-year basketball player there, I was so privileged to meet so many great friends, athletes, coaches, mentors, fans, etc.  Played for great coaches Hallie Gregory and Pete Barry... And the "mainstay" through it all (Assistant head coach, Bob Bono)!

But, that 1-year "interim coach" year with Coach Detrick was one of the greatest experiences that a 19 year old Academy basketball player could ever ask for.

Coach Detrick brought so much to our world.  He seemed to turn every practice (heck-- every interaction) into a "learning event" for life.  I will never forget how truly PROUD he was of everything we did (as cadets, as students, as players, and - most importantly - as young men trying to do our best).  He would tell us that on a daily basis.

We finished that year at 11-11 that year (to the best of my memory).  But, that year of my basketball life was less about a .500 season and more about having created a lasting memory about how coaches can encourage young adults to be proud of what they accomplish and to continue to do "good things".

I often think about Coach Detrick and I am so glad to read your story to know he is well.  He might never know it (because it was only a 1-year stop on his unbelievable coaching career), but he was a part of something very special for the 14 young men that made up the men's basketball team at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy for the 1989-1990 season.

OK, back to Detrick himself ...

Just last season, he saw one of his Trinity golfers throw a ball into the woods in frustration during a tournament on a Connecticut course.

"I said, 'What the heck is that? I don't like that, don't ever do it again,'" Detrick said.

"No problem, Coach. I'm sorry, Coach."

Detrick said there was no punishment, that he accepted the apology. Later in the season, however, the player did the same thing during a tournament in New York. Detrick didn't see it. He found out about it after the team returned to Connecticut. He met with the player.

"I said, 'What happened? Did you throw the ball in the woods? You said you were sorry and you were told there might be a punishment next time. I told you there would be punishment. What did I tell you the punishment would be?"

The player said he couldn't remember.

"I said, 'Well you don't remember my definition of education,'" Detrick said. "'I told you you've got to go get the ball and bring it back to me. So get your ass down to New York and get the ball and bring it back to me.'"

"He said, 'I can't do that.'"

I said, "You're suspended."

Detrick smiles while telling this story. 

"I was only kidding," he said. "I suspended him just to make him walk out the door like he wasnt on the team. He's back on the team."

DETRICK ON TEACHING ...

"I ran a camp for 29 years with Nick Marcarchuck. One of the things was getting the kids to stations to learn about basketball. I see coaches at stations making the kids do pushups. I said, 'No, no, no! They can do that at home! Teach them how to play the game! I don't want to see anyone runing around. That's a two-minute run when you're not teaching them.' I thought that was pretty good."