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Dick Bennett was one of the great coaches in Wisconsin basketball history. Coach Bennett mastered the “re-building of programs,” achieving success at every stop from small high schools to major Division 1 programs – including leading the Wisconsin Badgers to the NCAA Final Four. Coach Bennett has served as a mentor to countless players and coaches, and he impacted countless lives along the way. In part one of our conversation on the SGG podcast, we discussed:
1. Reconnecting with his high school basketball coach, Jerry Grunska, who had a significant influence on Coach Bennett wanting to become a coach.
2. Why high school was his favorite level at which to coach. “All there was to the job was a love of the game and a love for the kids.”
3. Making early mistakes and learning on the job during his first years as a high school coach: “I don’t think I made it quite simple enough.”
4. Taking a coaching class from Marquette’s Al McGuire, attending clinics around the Midwest – and sitting, listening to Adolph Rupp, John Wooden, and Henry Iba.
5. Seeing the game the same way as Bob Knight – who almost became the Wisconsin Coach.
6. The Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.
7. Advocating for Terry Porter in tryouts for various national teams.
8. Having dinner with Coach Knight in Bloomington the night before playing the Hoosiers, and maintaining a long-term friendship with him.
9. Coach Knight’s proposed “son swap” that never happened.
10. Al McGuire’s advice about scheduling opponents.