It's going to be sad next season to look at the Purdue bench and not see Gene Keady there. Of course, that isn't a knock on assistant Matt Painter, who's set to succeed Keady next season. But Keady has been a special fixture on the sidelines for so many years. So many people admire and respect Keady's work ethic.
When you talk about Keady, the first word that comes up is intensity.
|Purdue coach Gene Keady has been named Big Ten coach of the year seven times.|
He pours his heart out on the floor for 40 minutes, showing emotion, giving everything he has. Any player who matches that, giving his all, sets the table for success. Keady has a great way of coming back to the level of the everyday guy once the game is over.
He has been a beautiful part of Purdue basketball, entering his 25th and final season at the helm in West Lafayette, Indiana. He's posted an impressive 505-249 mark with the Boilermakers, a solid .672 winning percentage.
Keady is the school's all-time winningest coach, the winner of six Big Ten championships and second on the conference's all-time wins list with 262.
When you look at his longevity, you have to be impressed. Keady played in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 1958. When you faced a Keady-coached team, you knew you'd meet a squad with heart that played with a great deal of feeling.
His coaching career has included time in the junior-college ranks and as an assistant at Arkansas, where he served head coach Eddie Sutton when the Razorbacks had the famed triplets of Sidney Moncrief, Ron Brewer and Marvin Delph.
Then Keady was the head coach at Western Kentucky, where he did a phenomenal job during a short two-year stay before going to Purdue. He put on a show on the sideline, tossing his jacket into the crowd. I've often said he represents the football mentality, often looking like a Woody Hayes or Bo Schembechler on the bench.
Let me tell you, Keady is a beautiful guy. If you called him for a favor, before you got a sentence out, he would say "yes." He's been great for college basketball and his numbers indicate he's a winner. But it's more about the man than the stats.
Before Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim won national championships, I said their numbers didn't mean as much as their status as outstanding leaders and mentors. They didn't have anything to prove.
The same can be said for Keady. Purdue has had 20-plus wins 14 times under its veteran coach. He has put up the W's, getting it done as a hard worker who always does things the right way. He has served as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), showing that he's a respected leader among his peers.
Keady has won six national coach of the year awards, his first in 1984 and his most recent in 2000. And he's won a record seven Big Ten coach of the year awards (tying former Indiana coach Bob Knight).
Purdue has had 20-plus wins 14 times under its veteran coach.
This season, Purdue is in transition. There's excitement with the addition of juco standout Carl Landry. The Boilermakers received a bad break when David Teague broke his hand, sidelining him for the start of the season. Here's hoping Keady can go out with a solid final season with the Boilermakers.
It will be strange to look on the Purdue sidelines next season. Gene Keady will be missed.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.