Players, coaches and fans have all helped Tech reach 1,000 victories
Feb 06, 2011
Tech and Governors both in the hunt for 2011 OVC
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For Tennessee Tech basketball coach Mike
Sutton, reaching a benchmark like 1,000 victories is simply a
reflection on the people who have been a part of the program.
The Golden Eagles recently joined the impressive list of schools
nationally who have achieved 1,000 all-time wins in men’s
“The benchmark of 1,000 is a part of basketball,”
Sutton said. “Players are recognized for scoring 1,000 points
and programs are recognized for reaching 1,000 wins. It’s an
important number, and numbers are a lot of how we measure success.
Numbers help you set goals and challenges, and 1,000 is a special
“What’s significant about 1,000 wins are the people
involved in getting there, whether it’s the players, the
coaches or the fans. We should acknowledge those people, and this
benchmark should be a source of pride for all of them,”
On Monday, just prior to tipoff in Eblen Center when
Sutton’s Golden Eagles will host rival Austin Peay, the
University will hold a brief ceremony to recognize Tech’s
Former basketball coaches Raymond “Bull” Brown, Kenny
Sidwell, Connie Inman and Frank Harrell will pass a basketball
– decorated with the number 1,000 – from coach to coach
to signify the passing of the years. Harrell will give the ball to
Sutton, who will cap off the recognition by handing the
commemorative ball to University President Bob Bell.
Tech did a similar ceremony for the men’s basketball
team’s 900th win a few years ago, and two years
back held a ball-passing event for the women’s basketball
team’s 800th all-time win.
The ceremony Monday will take place at 7 p.m., followed by tipoff
of the crucial OVC game.
How did Tech get to its milestone 1,000th win? It was a long
process that began in 1924 when coach Putty Overall’s Golden
Eagles claimed their first-ever victory, a 48-16 decision over
Tech claimed its 100th win in 1940, also under coach
Overall, a 52-39 decision over Union College, and the countdown
clock toward 1,000 had begun.
Win No. 200 came with a 48-44 victory for coach Bull Brown’s
squad over Chattanooga in 1950, and eight years later, coach Johnny
Oldham’s Golden Eagles topped Morehead State, 78-70, for win
The pace picked up as the schedules expanded. On January 29, 1966,
coach Kenny Sidwell’s team downed Eastern Kentucky, 103-93,
for win No. 400.
Tech hit the halfway point on its climb to 1,000, with a 71-69
victory over Austin Peay on January 20, 1975, under coach Connie
Tom Deaton was head coach on February 11, 1984, when Tech got No.
600 with a 75-70 win over Austin Peay. Win No. 700 came for coach
Frank Harrell on Dec. 3, 1991, when Tech beat Bethel College,
116-93, and victory No. 800 came nine years later. It was Jan. 22,
2000, when Jeff Lebo’s squad bounced Austin Peay, 75-64.
Sutton was head coach for win No. 900, when Tech defeated
Jacksonville State, 71-56, on February 17, 2005.
The Golden Eagles opened 2011 with their 999th win,
stopping Bluefield College in the Eblen Center. Two weeks later,
the milestone was reached when Tech outlasted UT Martin – in
triple overtime – on Jan. 13, 2011.
The Golden Eagles enter Monday’s game against Austin Peay
with 1,004 all-time victories.
“Time is a factor in getting that many wins, and it makes
you reflect on all the people involved in getting there,”
“Several people who were key in reaching 1,000 wins have
come back for our Alumni Nights through the years, guys who have
played an integral part in reaching the benchmark.
“The most important part is the players. They’re the
ones who are responsible for getting to 1,000 wins. I’ve been
involved in number 900, and now in number 1,000, and it makes me
both humble and appreciative of all the work these guys have done
through the years.”
Sutton also gave a shout out to the folks in the stands, the sixth
man throughout the years.
“The other part is the fans. A lot of people have been here
for this team over the years, and we appreciate all that
support,” he said.
While he acknowledges that the fans and coaches have played a
role, Sutton keeps returning to the players who raced up and down
the wooden floor of Memorial Gym and, for the past 30-plus years,
“Those guys through the years paved the way for this team to
reach the benchmark. I am especially grateful for the local guys,
players such as Bobby McWilliams and Greg Bibb, who played here and
still live in this area. They were big part of that tradition and
history, and it’s been great to have the opportunity to meet
and talk with them. They are our history,” he said.
Sutton said that Tennessee Tech has had challenges to overcome
in achieving 1,000 wins.
“This program has gone through typical growing pains, along
with the expansion of college athletics in general through the
years,” he said.
“One thing to take pride in is the fact that this program
has been consistent with its mission in focusing on the core values
of being student-athletes,” Sutton said. “These young
men came to Tennessee Tech for the value of receiving an education.
It’s a real tribute to their dedication and commitment that
they’ve been able to generate 1,000 wins.”