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
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
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
"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
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
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
Lunsford said Green "understood the game
"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
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
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