Monday, March 12, 2012

Dick Harter RIP

Former Oregon basketball coach Dick Harter, best known for coaching the “Kamikaze Kids,” passed away Monday evening at the age of 81.

Harter coached Oregon from 1971 to 1978 and went 113-81.

Harter came to Oregon in 1971 from Penn to take over a struggling Ducks team. He went 6-20 his first season and then had six consecutive winning years starting with a 16-10 season in 1972-73.

Harter’s teams were known for their tough defense and reckless abandon that earned the nickname, “Kamikaze Kids.”

That style led UO to three consecutive berths into the National Invitational Tournament in 1975, 1976 and 1977. Harter was named Pacific-8 Conference coach of the year in 1977. After Oregon, Harter moved to Penn State, where his teams compiled a 79-61 record over the next five years.

Harter, born Oct. 14, 1930 in Pottstown, Penn., went on to coach as an assistant in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

He became the first head coach of the expansion Charlotte Hornets in 1988 and coached them for two and a half seasons before being fired in 1990 after compiling a record of 47-157.

I posted the following on this blog two years ago:

When I came back to the University of Oregon for law school, after the Army, Oregon football was not very good. However, in basketball it was the era of coach Dick Harter and his "Kamikaze Kids." Harter ran his team like a marine drill sergeant and his motto was "they don't know what hustle is until they play Oregon." Oregon would play tenacious defense and would dive for basketballs.Oregon fans and students would "pack the pit" as it was called and made a ton of noise and would rock the upper decks causing the scoreboard to rock along with the baskets. An opposing coach called we fans "deranged idiots" and we felt honored by the description.

It was during this time I met my wife to be. I spent the summer after my first year in law school as a law clerk here in Medford working for a law firm and met this cute legal secretary. Early on, she came to visit me in Eugene during a basketball weekends. I only had one student ticket to Mac Court so she agreed to type one of my class papers while I went to the game. I should have known then this lady was a jewel. I got to the game and bought a second ticket off another student and used the pay phone in Mac Court to call her and met her at the door with her ticket. After that we had many dates at Oregon basketball games until I graduated.

Some of my happiest moments, for those three years of law school, were watching Dick Harter coach the "Kamikaze Kids." I have a poster hanging in my offices commemorating them and it is personally autographed by by each including Dick Harter.Next to it is a one foot section of the old bench seating in Mac Court where they played.

Condolences to his family ...... Duck fans everywhere are thinking about Dick Harter tonight and we all feeling a lot older.

"they don't know what hustle is until they play Oregon."

Dick Harter