BASKETBALL: Fitch among finalists for Hall of Fame
Former UND men's basketball coach Bill Fitch is among the 12 finalists from the North American and Women's committees to be considered for election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The announcement was made by the Board of Govern...
Former UND men's basketball coach Bill Fitch is among the 12 finalists from the North American and Women's committees to be considered for election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The announcement was made by the Board of Governors last week.
A former Marine, Fitch was hired as head coach at UND after serving as an assistant at Creighton and head coach at Coe College in his native Iowa and led the Sioux for five seasons (1962-67).
After going a combined 24-29 in his first two seasons at UND, he posted one of the best three-year runs in Sioux basketball history. From 1964-1967, UND posted a 70-16 mark, which included three consecutive NCC titles, a combined 34-2 league record, three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and a pair of regional titles.
Among the players during that spectacular three-year run in Grand Forks was NBA legend Phil Jackson and one of his assistant coaches, Jimmy Rodgers, would go on to serve on Jackson's staffs for many of his NBA titles as a head coach.
After Fitch left UND, he served as the head coach at Bowling Green (1967-68) and Minnesota (1968-70) before entering the NBA ranks as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1970.
As an NBA head coach, Fitch was a two-time NBA Coach of the Year (1976 and 1980) and led the Boston Celtics to the 1981 NBA Championship. The Iowa native was a staple on the sidelines for 25 NBA seasons with five different teams from 1970-1998. He recorded over 900 wins and ranks eighth in NBA history in victories. He reached five conference finals and became the second coach in league history to lead a team to three straight 60-win seasons.
"The finalists for the Class of 2012 are a decorated group consisting of some of the greatest leaders that we have ever seen in the game of basketball," said Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Governors. "They represent all facets of the game from professional, collegiate, amateur and International levels for the sport."
Also among the 12 finalists are five-time NBA All-Star Reggie Miller, five-time NCAA Final Four coach Rick Pitino and two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain. Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are Maurice Cheeks, Bernard King, Dick Motta, Don Nelson, Hank Nichols, Ralph Sampson, Jamaal Wilkes and the All American Red Heads. The Class of 2012 will be unveiled at the NCAA Final Four in April.