Back home in the Big Apple, coaching in Madison Square Garden, SMU coach Larry Brown looked very much in his element Tuesday night. He barked at his players, shouted at officials and changed emotions with each point swing as the Mustangs beat Clemson, 65-59, in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. But this homecoming was much different. After the dramatic comeback, chants of “Larry, Larry, Larry’’ filled the old building. SMU fans showed up in force to honor the Hall of Fame coach, who has transformed their program. “Last year, we didn’t have anybody that would go on the road and watch us play, let alone play at home,’’ Brown said. “And to be in this environment and playing this championship in this special building with our fans so supportive, that was the most special moment we’ve all had since we’ve been there.’’ The Mustangs may lose in Thursday’s final, but that will not erase this seminal moment in SMU history and Brown’s storied career. In only his second season, the Mustangs (27-9) are one win shy of the school record. Brown, who has coached more NBA teams than anyone else, has noticed the change from the 15-17 campaign of his first year on the Hilltop. This season, the Mustangs shattered attendance records, selling out a record eight times at Moody Coliseum. “You can’t believe how it was at SMU,’’ he said. “We would have introductions last year, and I would look at [associate coach] Tim Jankovich and say, ‘What the hell are we doing here.’ If you said anything on the sideline, everybody heard it. But now, we’re a major program playing for a major championship, and that’s neat.’’ Brown also got another special performance from his players.
NIT semifinal win 'most special moment' yet for Larry Brown, SMU hoops
Dallas Morning News | Apr 2