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Don Green Obit April 2014
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Don Green, RIP: Former Men's Basketball Coach 'Understood the Game Completely'

Posted on Monday, April 07, 2014 [3:57 PM]

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- Hall of Fame Lindsey Wilson College men's basketball coach Don Green was remembered as a quintessential coach whose concern for his players extended beyond the game.

Green died after a short illness on Tuesday, April 1, in Lady Lake, Fla., with his wife, Mary Jo, at his side. He was 82.


Green came to Lindsey Wilson from Louisville, Ky., in 1950 to play basketball at the then junior college. He played two years for the Blue Raiders, earning all-conference honors in 1951-52.


Green returned to his alma mater to coach the men's basketball from 1962-70. During those eight seasons, his teams compiled a 133-69 record, and Green led the Blue Raiders to four Kentucky Junior College Conference regular-season championships and a pair of KJCC tournament titles.


Green had three 20-win seasons at LWC, and his teams appeared in two National Junior College Athletic Association National tournaments. He was inducted into the Lindsey Wilson Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.


"I played for a lot of coaches, but the exceptional thing about Coach Green was that he understood how to be hard on us but be fair with us at the same time," said LWC alumnus Russell Lunsford of Elizabethtown, Ky. "Most of the guys who played for him just adored him, and most of the guys who played for him would run through a block wall for him."


LWC men's basketball coach Paul Peck said Green kept up with the Blue Raiders.


"Coach Don Green loved Lindsey Wilson College," Peck said. "Whenever our paths crossed, he would always ask about Lindsey Wilson and spoke of his fond memories of when he was on campus. I've always had great admiration for his coaching ability. He was a true X and O coach and his teams were always knowledgeable and incredibly well-prepared. The coaching community lost a great coach with Coach Green's passing."


Lunsford said he kept in touch with his former coach over the years, and he presented Green with his LWC Athletic Hall of Fame plaque in 2008. Up until his illness, Green played golf "four or five days a week, and he was very active," Lunsford said.


Green made history at LWC in 1969 when he integrated the men's basketball team by offering a scholarship to Adair County High School senior Fred Smith. That was the same year the University of Kentucky integrated its men's basketball team.


Lunsford said Green "understood the game completely."


"He knew how to put things together," Lunsford said. "He liked transition basketball, which of course was real popular back then."


By the time Lunsford came to LWC, the college's gymnasium, which is now part of the W.W. Slider Humanities Center Recital Hall, had fallen into disrepair and was relegated to practice-use as LWC played its home games at the old Adair County High School gymnasium.


"We always said if you could dribble on that floor, you could dribble anywhere," Lunsford said. "It was a lot of hard work (to play for Green), but we had a lot of fun."


Green's 1969-70 LWC team -- which scored at least 100 points six times that season -- rose to No. 5 in the national junior college rankings before losing to Paducah (Ky.) Community College in the regional tournament.


"We just just had one bad game at the regional where Paducah beat us, or we would have been in the national tournament," Lunsford said.


Green left LWC after that season to coach at Elizabethtown (Ky.) Community College. Lunsford played for green at E'town after he got out of the Army in 1973.


"Twice in my life he was there to help me help when I needed help -- when he recruited me to Lindsey Wilson and when I got out of the Army," Lunsford said. "He helped out so many people."


Lunsford said that four players from Green's teams -- two from LWC and two from E'town -- started for Kentucky Wesleyan College's 1973 NCAA College Division Basketball Championship team, now known as the NCAA Division II Championship.


Green left Elizabethtown to coach and eventually serve as athletic director at Chattanooga (Tenn.) State Technical Community College. He finished his coaching career with more than 450 wins.

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