Dick Bennett

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Dick Bennett
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1943-04-20) April 20, 1943 (age 72)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1962–1965 Ripon
Position(s) Guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1965–1966 West Bend HS (freshmen)
1966–1968 Mineral Point HS
1968–1969 Marion HS
1969–1972 New London HS
1972–1976 Eau Claire Memorial HS
1976–1985 Wisconsin-Stevens Point
1985–1995 Green Bay
1995–2001 Wisconsin
2003–2006 Washington State
Head coaching record
  • 489–307 (overall)
  • 316–227 (NCAA D-I)
  • 173–80 (NAIA)
Accomplishments and honors
  • 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)

Richard A. "Dick" Bennett (born April 20, 1943) is an American college basketball coach who is best known for building the Wisconsin-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.

Early life[edit]

Richard A. Bennett was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in Clintonville, Wisconsin.[1] He graduated from Ripon College in 1965 with a B.A. in education.[2][3] At Ripon, Bennett played basketball (guard), football (halfback and return specialist), and baseball (third baseman) four years each.[2]

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 coached at the high school level. In 1965, he became freshman basketball coach at West Bend High School in West Bend, Wisconsin.[2] From 1966 to 1968, he coached at Mineral Point High in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, in which his team improved from 9–10 to 20–4 in his two seasons there.[4] He then was varsity head coach at Marion High School in Marion, Wisconsin (1968–1969), New London High School in New London, Wisconsin (1969–1972), and Memorial High School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (1972–1976). Bennett led Memorial to a runner-up finish at the State tournament during the 1975–76 season.[5][6][7]

Wisconsin–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.[8] While head coach, Bennett completed a master's degree in education with an emphasis in professional development in August 1979.[9] 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.

Green Bay[edit]

In 1985, Bennett moved to the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay. The Green Bay 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 UWGB 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.


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 Wisconsin 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 2000 Final Four.[10] The Badgers had played in a total of three NCAA tournaments in their entire history prior to 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.[11] 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.[12] 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[13] coach Tony Bennett.[14] Tony proceeded to guide the Cougars to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and a Sweet-16 showing in 2007-08.[15]

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[16] 2007 Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame[17]


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.[18]

Bennett is best known for the "pack line" defense, a gap defense that clogs up potential driving lanes and prevents ballhandlers from getting to the paint. His son continued using the "pack line" after succeeding him at Washington State, and took the defense with him to Virginia.[19]

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. Three 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]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Wisconsin–Stevens Point Pointers (Wisconsin State University Athletic Conference) (1976–1985)
1976–77 Wisconsin–Stevens Point 9–17 4–12 9th
1977–78 Wisconsin–Stevens Point 12–14 8–8 T–5th
1978–79 Wisconsin–Stevens Point 14–12 9–7 T–3rd
1979–80 Wisconsin–Stevens Point 18–10 13–3 2nd
1980–81 Wisconsin–Stevens Point 19–8 11–5 3rd
1981–82 Wisconsin–Stevens Point 22–6 13–3 T–1st
1982–83 Wisconsin–Stevens Point 26–4 15–1 1st NAIA Second Round
1983–84 Wisconsin–Stevens Point 28–4 14–2 T–1st NAIA Runners-up
1984–85 Wisconsin–Stevens Point 25–5 14–2 1st NAIA Second Round
Wisconsin–Stevens Point: 173–80 101–43
Green Bay Phoenix (Mid-Continent Conference) (1985–1994)
1985–86 Green Bay 5–23 3–11 T–7th
1986–87 Green Bay 15–14 8–6 4th
1987–88 Green Bay 18–9 9–5 3rd
1988–89 Green Bay 14–14 6–6 4th
1989–90 Green Bay 24–8 9–3 2nd NIT Second Round
1990–91 Green Bay 24–7 13–3 2nd NCAA First Round
1991–92 Green Bay 25–5 14–2 1st NIT First Round
1992–93 Green Bay 13–14 9–7 T–4th
1993–94 Green Bay 27–7 15–3 1st NCAA Second Round
Green Bay Phoenix (Midwestern Collegiate Conference) (1994–1995)
1994–95 Green Bay 22–8 11–4 T–2nd NCAA First Round
Green Bay: 187–109 97–50
Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten Conference) (1995–2001)
1995–96 Wisconsin 17–15 7–9 8th NIT Second Round
1996–97 Wisconsin 18–10 10–6 T–4th NCAA First Round
1997–98 Wisconsin 12–19 3–13 T–9th
1998–99 Wisconsin 22–10 9–7 T–3rd NCAA First Round
1999–00 Wisconsin 22–14 8–8 6th NCAA Final Four
2000–01 Wisconsin 2–1
Wisconsin: 93–69 37–43
Washington State Cougars (Pacific-10 Conference) (2003–2006)
2003–04 Washington State 13–16[20] 7–11[20] T–7th[21]
2004–05 Washington State 12–16[22] 7–11[22] T–6th[23]
2005–06 Washington State 11–17[24] 4–14[24] 10th[25]
Washington State: 36–49 18–36
Total: 489–307

      National champion         Postseason invitational 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


  1. ^ "Dick Bennett". Washington State University. 2005. Archived from the original on November 7, 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c "Dick Bennett". University of Wisconsin-Madison. November 4, 1999. Archived from the original on August 23, 2000. 
  3. ^ "Hall of Fame: Richard A. Bennett, Class of 1965: Induction Class of 1984". Ripon College. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  4. ^ Newmonth magazine, search "Mineral Point"
  5. ^ Associated Press (June 3, 1976). "Bennett is new Pointer cage coach". Appleton Post-Crescent. 
  6. ^ Pitt, Roger (April 10, 2014). "Schools better suited to plan alignments". Waupaca County News. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Bennett honors former player". Racine Journal-Times. December 14, 2001. Retrieved April 27, 2015. Bennett, a Clintonville High School graduate, coached at Marion until he resigned in 1969... 
  8. ^ "UW–Stevens Point To Honor Bennetts". Retrieved March 31, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Master of Education - Professional Development Degree" (PDF). Seventy-First Annual Summer Session Commencement. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. August 3, 1979. 
  10. ^ Schultz, Rob. "Bennett leaves winning legacy". The Capital Times. Madison, WI. Archived from the original on February 19, 2001. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  11. ^ Stewart, Mark (November 30, 2000). "Bennett no longer game for his game". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 17, 2001. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  12. ^ Bennett ends retirement, replaces Graham - Men's College Basketball - ESPN
  13. ^ Dick Bennett will coach for rest of this season - Men's College Basketball - ESPN
  14. ^ Cougars coach to retire; son to succeed him - Men's College Basketball - ESPN
  15. ^ AP (2006-02-28). "Bennett: First goal met". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. 
  16. ^ Profile at Washington State
  17. ^ http://www.badgerstategames.org/hall_fame/members_byyear
  18. ^ http://www.coachesclipboard.net/BasketballPackLineDefense.html
  19. ^ Koremenos, Brett. Pack-Line Progeny. Grantland, 2015-01-14.
  20. ^ a b Washington State Cougars Basketball 2003-04 Schedule - Cougars Home and Away - ESPN
  21. ^ Pac-12 Conference Standings (2003–04) - College Basketball - ESPN
  22. ^ a b Washington State Cougars Basketball 2004-05 Schedule - Cougars Home and Away - ESPN
  23. ^ Pac-12 Conference Standings (2004–05) - College Basketball - ESPN
  24. ^ a b Washington State Cougars Basketball 2005-06 Schedule - Cougars Home and Away - ESPN
  25. ^ Pac-12 Conference Standings (2005–06) - College Basketball - ESPN