Dick Bennett

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Dick Bennett
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1943-04-20) April 20, 1943 (age 71)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1962–1965 Ripon College
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1976–1985
1985–1995
1995–2001
2003–2006
UW-Stevens Point
UW-Green Bay
Wisconsin
Washington State
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
NCAA Regional Championships – Final Four (2000)
Mid-Continent Conference Regular Season Championship (1992, 1994)
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Regular Season Championship (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985)

Awards
Wisconsin State University Conference Coach of the Year (1982, 1985)
NAIA Coach of the Year (1984)
Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year (1990, 1992)
NABC District 11 Coach of the Year (1992, 1994)

Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame (2007)

Dick Bennett (born April 20, 1943) is an American college basketball coach who is best known for building the Green Bay Phoenix men's basketball program into a mid-major power and revitalizing the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he is the father of current Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett and current Northern Illinois women's basketball head coach Kathi Bennett.

Coaching career[edit]

Bennett had enormous success at each level of collegiate coaching in Wisconsin. In the mid-1970s, he led Eau Claire Memorial High School to the state title game. In the mid-1980s, he led the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to an NAIA title game. In the early 1990s he brought UW–Green Bay to its first three NCAA tournament appearances. And in 2000, after five years in Madison, he took the Badgers to the Final Four.

High school[edit]

Prior to collegiate coaching, Bennett was a successful high school coach for eleven years, winning 168 games and leading Eau Claire Memorial to a runner-up finish at the State tournament during the 1975–76 season.

UW–Stevens Point[edit]

Bennett began his collegiate coaching career at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point in 1976, where he won 173 games in nine seasons.[1] He was named NAIA Coach of the Year after leading the 1983–84 squad to a 28–4 record and national runner-up finish. That team featured future NBA All-Star Terry Porter and future Saint Louis University head coach Brad Soderberg. In 2009, the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point renamed its basketball court Bennett Court to honor both Dick Bennett and his brother Jack Bennett.

UW–Green Bay[edit]

In 1985, Bennett moved to the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay. The Phoenix posted a 4–24 record the year before Bennett arrived, but had reached the second round of the NIT tournament by 1990.

Bennett's son Tony became the star of the team during the early 1990s. A guard who played several seasons in the NBA, Tony Bennett led the team to its first NCAA tournament berth in 1991, where the Phoenix lost to Michigan State in the first round. The following year, the UW–GB rolled to a 25–5 and won its first regular season conference title, but lost in the conference tournament. After Tony Bennett's departure in 1992, the 1993–94 team won the conference title and tournament on its way to the NCAA tournament. There, the 12th-seeded Phoenix defeated 5th-seeded California, whose roster included Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray. In Bennett's final year with the Phoenix, his team returned to the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Big Ten champion Purdue.

Wisconsin Badgers[edit]

In 1995, Bennett replaced Stan Van Gundy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as the head coach of the men's basketball team. In Bennett's first year, the Badgers earned a bid in the NIT. A year later, the Badgers notched their first winning record in Big Ten Conference play since 1974, and only their second since 1954. He coached Wisconsin to three NCAA tournament appearances including the Final Four (1999–2000). The Badgers had played in a total of three NCAA tournaments in the 97 years before his arrival. Bennett also coached Wisconsin to its first ever 20-win season in 1998–99. Bennett resigned three games into the 2000–01 season citing burnout – he said he "simply was drained".[2] During his tenure at Wisconsin he was 94–68 (.580) from 1995–2000.

Washington State Cougars[edit]

After two years off, Bennett was hired at Washington State University on March 29, 2003.[3] He faced a daunting rebuilding project. Making strong defense a cornerstone, he started building around veterans Thomas Kelati and Jeff Varem and brought in what arguably was the greatest recruiting class in school history in 2004 (Kyle Weaver, Derrick Low, Robbie Cowgill, Chris Henry, Daven Harmeling and Josh Akognon). Bennett stayed three seasons at WSU. The team did not post a winning record, but they did secure wins over teams they traditionally could never beat, UCLA, Arizona and Stanford. Bennett retired following the 2005–06 season and handed the program to his son and associate[4] coach Tony Bennett.[5] Tony proceeded to guide the Cougars to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and a Sweet-16 showing in 2007.[6]

Coaching Awards[edit]

1982 Wisconsin State University Conference Coach of the Year
1985 Wisconsin State University Conference Coach of the Year
1985 NAIA District IV Coach of the Year
1985 NAIA Area IV Coach of the Year
1990 Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year
1992 Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year
1992 NABC District 11 Coach of the Year
1994 Basketball Times Midwest Coach of the Year
1994 NABC District 11 Coach of the Year[7] 2007 Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame[8]

Legacy[edit]

Bennett recruited players who were willing to place teamwork and discipline ahead of personal statistics. His players excelled in the classroom as well as on the court. While few NBA players emerged from his programs, most of his players have gone on to success in other careers, including coaching. He was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.

In 2014 NCAA Tournament, Bennett's influence as a defensive coach brought him fame; four teams in the Sweet Sixteen (Arizona, Dayton, Virginia and Wisconsin) focused on the Bennett designed Pack Line Man for Man defense.[9]

Background and family[edit]

Bennett went to high school in Clintonville, Wisconsin, and graduated from Ripon College. His son Tony Bennett, previously the head assistant coach, was hired as WSU head coach after his father's retirement. Two years later, he accepted his current position as head coach at the University of Virginia. His daughter Kathi Bennett is currently head women's basketball coach at Northern Illinois and is a former head women's basketball coach at Indiana University. His brother Jack Bennett recently retired as head coach at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point after winning back-to-back Division III national titles in 2004 and 2005. Another brother, Tom Bennett, died of AIDS-related complications at age 38 in January 1996.

Head coaching record[edit]

NAIA Division I[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
UW–Stevens Point Pointers (Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) (1976–1985)
1976–1977 UW–Stevens Point 9–17 4–12 9th
1977–1978 UW–Stevens Point 12–14 8–8 T–5th
1978–1979 UW–Stevens Point 14–12 9–7 T–3rd
1979–1980 UW–Stevens Point 18–10 13–3 2nd
1980–1981 UW–Stevens Point 19–8 11–5 3rd
1981–1982 UW–Stevens Point 22–6 13–3 T–1st
1982–1983 UW–Stevens Point 26–4 15–1 1st NAIA Participant
1983–1984 UW–Stevens Point 28–4 14–2 T–1st NAIA Runner–up
1984–1985 UW–Stevens Point 25–5 14–2 1st NAIA Participant
UW–Stevens Point: 173–80 101–43
Total: 173–80

      National champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

NCAA Division I[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
UW–Green Bay Phoenix (Mid-Continent Conference) (1985–1994)
1985–1986 UW–Green Bay 5–23 3–11 T–7th
1986–1987 UW–Green Bay 15–14 8–6 4th
1987–1988 UW–Green Bay 18–9 9–5 3rd
1988–1989 UW–Green Bay 14–14 6–6 4th
1989–1990 UW–Green Bay 24–8 9–3 2nd NIT 2nd Round
1990–1991 UW–Green Bay 24–7 13–3 2nd NCAA 1st Round
1991–1992 UW–Green Bay 25–5 14–2 1st NIT 1st Round
1992–1993 UW–Green Bay 13–14 9–7 T–4th
1993–1994 UW–Green Bay 27–7 15–3 1st NCAA 2nd Round
UW–Green Bay Phoenix (Midwestern Collegiate Conference) (1994–1995)
1994–1995 UW–Green Bay 22–8 11–4 T–2nd NCAA 1st Round
UW–Green Bay: 187–109 97–50
Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten Conference) (1995–2001)
1995–1996 Wisconsin 17–15 7–9 8th NIT 2nd Round
1996–1997 Wisconsin 18–10 10–6 T–4th NCAA 1st Round
1997–1998 Wisconsin 12–19 3–13 T–9th
1998–1999 Wisconsin 22–10 9–7 T–3rd NCAA 1st Round
1999–2000 Wisconsin 22–14 8–8 6th NCAA Final Four
2000–2001 Wisconsin 2–1
Wisconsin: 93–69 37–43
Washington State Cougars (Pacific-10 Conference) (2003–2006)
2003–2004 Washington State 13–16[10] 7–11[10] T–7th[11]
2004–2005 Washington State 12–16[12] 7–11[12] T–6th[13]
2005–2006 Washington State 11–17[14] 4–14[14] 10th[15]
Washington State: 36–49 18–36
Total: 316–227

      National champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

References[edit]