No variable specified
Local coaches reminisce about March Madness
by Greg Oshust
April 03, 2013 10:22 AM | 1826 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Curtis Berry
Staff / Nathan Self
Curtis Berry
slideshow
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
John Gaines
Staff / Nathan Self
John Gaines
slideshow
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Buck Jenkins
Staff / Nathan Self
Buck Jenkins
slideshow
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Willie Richardson
Staff / Nathan Self
Willie Richardson
slideshow
With the NCAA Division I Final Four this weekend at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta, and with the NCAA celebrating the tournament’s 75th anniversary this year, the Neighbor asked local coaches who played Division I college basketball about the event.

Curtis Berry
Mount Vernon Presbyterian boys’ basketball coach
Played in the 1978, ’80 and ’81 NCAA Tournaments for Missouri; advanced to the Sweet 16 in '80

“When you start the season, it’s every player’s dream and every team’s goal to make it, especially if you’re a Division I school, to the NCAA tournament. Same thing if you’re a Division II school, but it’s the biggest thing for a Division I school, so that’s a goal that you set as a team. It’s a great experience. There’s a lot of excitement when you get to that part of the season. You’re playing teams that you get a chance to [see] on TV. Every game now, you play on TV. But, back then, it wasn’t [the case], and when you got a chance to play on national TV and play in that tournament, it was certainly a thrill.”

John Gaines
North Atlanta boys’ basketball coach
Played in the 1986 NCAA Tournament for Ball State

“It was the best experience of my life. You either have 10,000 fans cheering for you or booing you. It ended up being a sad evening, because we lost [to Memphis]. Like I tell the kids that I coach, sometimes you win and you really lose and sometimes you lose, but you really win. Even though we lost, I got the opportunity to play semi-professional ball in Europe for several years. Just because I played in the tournament, someone was able to see the talent that I possessed. Playing [Division] I is the best experience in the world. They treat you like a pro.”


Buck Jenkins
Riverwood boys’ basketball coach
Played for Columbia from 1989 to ’93; is the school's all-time leading scorer

“When you’re a college athlete, your focus is always trying to get to your postseason tournament, and for me the NCAA tournament kind of drove that during the four years that I was in school. We never made it to the tournament, but it was still the most exciting time of the year. It was always a goal. It was always something that me and my teammates strived for and was something we dreamed of playing in.”


Willie Richardson
Atlanta International boys’ and girls’ basketball coach
Played in the 1987 NCAA Tournament and the '88 and '89 NIT Tournaments for New Orleans

“Basically, it was really a different world. Seeing all the lights, all the different teams, schools that you visited before. It’s about the region you got sent to as well. Some kids got an opportunity to go back to a region that’s close to home. Everything you work for all year comes together and, believe it or not, you work hard for that particular moment and you realize, it’s always one and done — not like the regular season. It’s a feeling that’s kind of hard to explain. It’s everything that you work hard for, to get that opportunity to represent your school and your conference and making it to the tournament.”
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides