SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

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SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby 1975SHjoe » Sun Sep 06, 2020 12:29 pm

A tribute to Smokey is on the detroittitans.com web site. He was 80, dies from cancer.
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby Hoopster_Now_In_DC » Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:05 pm

1975SHjoe wrote:A tribute to Smokey is on the detroittitans.com web site. He was 80, dies from cancer.


RIP- Probably the most successful coach in program history.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSPkvZnsD2k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VdrAxBqlXo
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby ptctitan » Sun Sep 27, 2020 11:22 am

Hoopster_Now_In_DC wrote:
1975SHjoe wrote:A tribute to Smokey is on the detroittitans.com web site. He was 80, dies from cancer.


RIP- Probably the most successful coach in program history.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSPkvZnsD2k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VdrAxBqlXo


For a coach, Smokey Gaines did have the most successful consecutive two-year winning percentage in program history. Too bad that we could not have afforded a higher salary for him so he could have stayed.

Vitale's final year as coach and Smokey's first year as coach produced the best two-year record in program history, 50-8 for an .862 winning percentage.

Perry Watson's 1997-99 winning percentage was .806; and, he won 50 games in those two seasons.

However, Royal Campbell had a 25-5 record for the three seasons of 1910-11 to 1912-13 for a winning percentage of .833 versus Gaines's .823.

It's hard to say how Smokey would have fared under the new austerity that began affecting our school in the early 1980s. But his two years and Perry's two years are the best coaching runs here in recent history. Here's hoping that Coach Davis can join them soon.
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby Commissioner » Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:36 am

ptctitan wrote:
Hoopster_Now_In_DC wrote:
1975SHjoe wrote:A tribute to Smokey is on the detroittitans.com web site. He was 80, dies from cancer.


RIP- Probably the most successful coach in program history.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSPkvZnsD2k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VdrAxBqlXo


For a coach, Smokey Gaines did have the most successful consecutive two-year winning percentage in program history. Too bad that we could not have afforded a higher salary for him so he could have stayed.

Vitale's final year as coach and Smokey's first year as coach produced the best two-year record in program history, 50-8 for an .862 winning percentage.

Perry Watson's 1997-99 winning percentage was .806; and, he won 50 games in those two seasons.

However, Royal Campbell had a 25-5 record for the three seasons of 1910-11 to 1912-13 for a winning percentage of .833 versus Gaines's .823.

It's hard to say how Smokey would have fared under the new austerity that began affecting our school in the early 1980s. But his two years and Perry's two years are the best coaching runs here in recent history. Here's hoping that Coach Davis can join them soon.


As I recall the issue with Coach Gaines was less salary than the inability to provide resources for the program. Is that true? You would know better than I.
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby Commissioner » Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:36 am

ptctitan wrote:
Hoopster_Now_In_DC wrote:
1975SHjoe wrote:A tribute to Smokey is on the detroittitans.com web site. He was 80, dies from cancer.


RIP- Probably the most successful coach in program history.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSPkvZnsD2k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VdrAxBqlXo


For a coach, Smokey Gaines did have the most successful consecutive two-year winning percentage in program history. Too bad that we could not have afforded a higher salary for him so he could have stayed.

Vitale's final year as coach and Smokey's first year as coach produced the best two-year record in program history, 50-8 for an .862 winning percentage.

Perry Watson's 1997-99 winning percentage was .806; and, he won 50 games in those two seasons.

However, Royal Campbell had a 25-5 record for the three seasons of 1910-11 to 1912-13 for a winning percentage of .833 versus Gaines's .823.

It's hard to say how Smokey would have fared under the new austerity that began affecting our school in the early 1980s. But his two years and Perry's two years are the best coaching runs here in recent history. Here's hoping that Coach Davis can join them soon.


As I recall the issue with Coach Gaines was less salary than the inability to provide resources for the program. Is that true? You would know better than I.
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby ptctitan » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:32 am

Commissioner wrote:
As I recall the issue with Coach Gaines was less salary than the inability to provide resources for the program. Is that true? You would know better than I.


I am not quite old enough to know firsthand what happened at that time. I was told that money was the issue. It could have been budget for assistants versus head coach salary. But once Geracioti took over as AD from Vitale, I understood that the focus shifted to operating the department more inline with a budget. By 1985, I know that Sicko began to suffer attrition from his original staff because the administration kept cutting the budget and we could not offer competitive salary increases.
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby dennycrane » Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:10 pm

I guess we should have asked Smokey, pct, when he appeared at Calihan Hall with a sizeable group of players for the Dick Vitale court dedication in 2011. It was my impression circa 1980 that Geracioti basically drove Gaines away from the Titan program, that the pair feuded over various issues and, with an exceptional record in hand, Smokey didn't need the headaches. San Diego State was an attractive option with much better weather, public funding and a program willing to grow.

This has been discussed quite a bit and it remains true that the Geracioti period was a disastrous one for University of Detroit basketball. Coming off 3 straight tournament appearances in 1977-79, 2 of them in the NCAA, the program was positioned for considerably more success but it needed coaching stability. Gaines' background was in this area, I believe. He likely preferred to stay. Geracioti was not from this area and soon fell out of favor himself.

Not to be forgotten was the fact that UD, at the time, was regarded in Michigan as one of the 3 top programs in the state and defeated it's Big Ten rivals from time to time. With the coaching change, our fortunes fell like a stone and the 80s became pretty much a lost decade, with the notable exception that we defeated No. 4 Memphis State in a stunning upset in '86, I believe.
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby The-Dude » Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:08 pm

RIP Coach Gaines.

Denny, thank you for your notable illustrations on the matter. A small note regarding that colossal upset over #4 Memphis St, that victory took place during the 84/85 season. While your assessment of our 80’s is veracious, that was Coach Sicko’s banner season. The team went 16-12 and asides from the noted victory, they also beat Minnesota, and took #6 Syracuse to the wire. Greg Wendt, Kieth Gray and Co.
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby Commissioner » Sun Oct 04, 2020 1:33 pm

The-Dude wrote:RIP Coach Gaines.

Denny, thank you for your notable illustrations on the matter. A small note regarding that colossal upset over #4 Memphis St, that victory took place during the 84/85 season. While your assessment of our 80’s is veracious, that was Coach Sicko’s banner season. The team went 16-12 and asides from the noted victory, they also beat Minnesota, and took #6 Syracuse to the wire. Greg Wendt, Kieth Gray and Co.

While 16-12 doesn't sound exceptional, that team's RPI was in the Top 50 nationally. That year, there were 282 teams in Division 1. The Titans lost
at Michigan (RPI #1),
to Syracuse (#10) in Rochester, NY;
at Kansas (#12);
twice to conference rival Loyola (15);
@ Illinois State (#36), and
at Iona (#41).

In the MCC, our conference opponents, besides Loyola, included
Xavier (#84--we split in the regular season, then lost in the first round of the conference tournament, which probably cost the team an NIT bid);
Oral Roberts (#85--we split, each team winning on the road); and
Butler (#86, split).
Our one bad loss was to #156 St. Louis, by 1 point on the road.

In addition to Memphis (#9) and the road win at Minnesota (#56), the Titans beat
Dayton (#22, at the time a non-con foe),
Toledo (#95), and
a strong EMU team (#101).
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby The-Dude » Sun Oct 04, 2020 10:14 pm

Thanks Commish.

Not to derail this honorable topic but It’s little know fact that Coach Sicko was on the verge of turning UD into a national powerhouse but unfortunately, the dominos started falling and never stop. If I may, please let me talk story:

Sicko led that 84-85 to a national level of respect and recognition. He was able to get Greg Wendt to transfer over from Duke and have an epic recruiting class coming in that included G John McIntyre, C Willie Carter, and F Dan Kennedy. In particular, John McIntyre was one of the top recruits in the County and had it not been for Glen Rice, he could have won Mr. Basketball. More importantly, word spread that we were getting national stars Derrick Coleman and Nathan Buntin and Underrated PG Bill Wood. It appeared that Sicko and his coaches were putting a top 20-level team. How things unraveled is complicated but there are a few pillars to point out. During the start of the 85-86 campaign, John McIntyre who was projected starter and was projected to be a prolific scorer, became injured with a groin pull. He never recovered that season. A couple more untimely injuries and apparent good fortunes turned to into a down ward spiral. Behind the scenes, the University of Missouri illegally hired two highly influential Detroit City recruiters who got John McIntyre and Nathan Buntin to flip. When Buntin committed to Missouri, Coleman also looked elsewhere. It may seem like a strange Correlation, however, the Missouri illegal recruiting was a highly Detrimental to Coach Sicko and his vision of building a power house. Seems like a make believe fairly tale but the potential was real...
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby The-Dude » Sun Oct 04, 2020 10:15 pm

Thanks Commish.

Not to derail this honorable topic but It’s little know fact that Coach Sicko was on the verge of turning UD into a national powerhouse but unfortunately, the dominos started falling and never stoped. If I may, please let me talk story:

Sicko led that 84-85 to a national level of respect and recognition. He was able to get Greg Wendt to transfer over from Duke and had an epic recruiting class coming in that included G John McIntyre, C Willie Carter, and F Dan Kennedy. In particular, John McIntyre was one of the top recruits in the County and had it not been for Glen Rice, he could have won Mr. Basketball. More importantly, word spread that we were getting national stars Derrick Coleman and Nathan Buntin and Underrated PG Bill Wood. It appeared that Sicko and his coaches were putting together a top 20-level team. How things unraveled is complicated but there are a couple of pillars to point out. During the start of the 85-86 campaign, John McIntyre who was projected starter and was expected to be a prolific scorer, became injured with a groin pull. He never recovered that season. A couple more untimely injuries coupled with a very tough schedule and apparent good fortunes turned to into a downward spiral. Behind the scenes, the University of Missouri illegally hired two highly influential Detroit City recruiters who got John McIntyre and Nathan Buntin to flip. When Buntin committed to Missouri, Coleman also looked elsewhere. It may seem like a strange Correlation, however, the Missouri illegal recruiting was a highly Detrimental to Coach Sicko and his vision of building a power house. Seems like a make believe fairly tale but the potential was real...
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby ptctitan » Mon Oct 05, 2020 6:53 am

The-Dude wrote:Thanks Commish.

Not to derail this honorable topic but It’s little know fact that Coach Sicko was on the verge of turning UD into a national powerhouse but unfortunately, the dominos started falling and never stoped. If I may, please let me talk story:

Sicko led that 84-85 to a national level of respect and recognition. He was able to get Greg Wendt to transfer over from Duke and had an epic recruiting class coming in that included G John McIntyre, C Willie Carter, and F Dan Kennedy. In particular, John McIntyre was one of the top recruits in the County and had it not been for Glen Rice, he could have won Mr. Basketball. More importantly, word spread that we were getting national stars Derrick Coleman and Nathan Buntin and Underrated PG Bill Wood. It appeared that Sicko and his coaches were putting together a top 20-level team. How things unraveled is complicated but there are a couple of pillars to point out. During the start of the 85-86 campaign, John McIntyre who was projected starter and was expected to be a prolific scorer, became injured with a groin pull. He never recovered that season. A couple more untimely injuries coupled with a very tough schedule and apparent good fortunes turned to into a downward spiral. Behind the scenes, the University of Missouri illegally hired two highly influential Detroit City recruiters who got John McIntyre and Nathan Buntin to flip. When Buntin committed to Missouri, Coleman also looked elsewhere. It may seem like a strange Correlation, however, the Missouri illegal recruiting was a highly Detrimental to Coach Sicko and his vision of building a power house. Seems like a make believe fairly tale but the potential was real...


Thanks for the post. I don't recall things exactly as you have posted. But these things happened 35 years ago. Don Sicko came close to succeeding, but he was burned out by the end of the 1986-87 season; and, he lasted just the first 3 games of the 1987-88 season. It's too bad because he tried hard and we had a premier coaching staff for the first 4 years of his tenure here. But we could not afford to keep that staff together due to school-wide budgetary problems that eventually led to the merger with Mercy College 3 years after Sicko resigned.

Willis Carter transferred here from Michigan after Sicko was named our head coach in the spring of 1982. He had played at UM when Sicko was an assistant there. He sat out the 1982-83 season and then played here afterwards. There certainly were rumors back then about Coleman and Buntin; but there were rumors about a lot of recruits back then; e.g., Jimmy Jackson from Toledo, the late Demetrius Gore, and, others.

Smokey Gaines was a good coach and a good recruiter. It set us back to lose him. Willie McCarter couldn't get the job done as well as Smokey did. I'm glad that in recent years, Smokey returned to the university to participate in events and did not display bitterness about what happened under Geracioti. With so many coaches and players from that era now passing away, it's a reminder of our own mortality. It also increases the urgency (at least my urgency) to try and help improve athletics here before I get so old that I can't comprehend anymore what's happening on the court. lol
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby Living in Carolina » Fri Oct 09, 2020 3:44 pm

Smokey was quite the recruiter and ran his team hard. He also expected when Vitale moved on to move up. As I recall he had moved into Vitale's AD office right after Vitale left for the Piston's and his acrimony with the university began with them hiring an AD over him in Geracioti. Smokey wanted to control scheduling, and that was taken from him by the new AD. Smokey was the national recruiter for Vitale, probably the only one that the university ever had. Jerry Davis was a great recruit from Texas until a knee injury wiped out his explosiveness.

We can only wonder what might have been. Carter who replaced him was an assistant who was in over his head from day one. He took a team that was top 25 and turned it into a .500 program even though it had most of the prior year's team on including Earl the twirl who went on to have a NBA career with two rings.

Smokey's last team blew out a top 20 Georgetown team by 20. That team was set for a rematch with Magic Johnson in the second round of the NCAA ( we lost to Magic the prior year at home badly) but instead got beat in the first game by a Lamar team coached by Billie Tubbs who used that season to jump to Oklahoma. (the tournament was 48 teams the time and higher seeds got a first round bye).

Smokey recruited and coached players (assistant and/or head coach) who would make any Power 5 conference proud.

John Long- 15 years in the NBA - 1 ring / average 21 pts per game as shooting guard next to Isiah Thomas in 69 GS in 1982/14 ppg for a career - played in the NBA into his 40's.
Terry Tyler 11 years in the NBA - NBA All-Rookie Team honors in 1979 - held Pistons record for consecutive games played at one point.
Terry Duerod - 4 years NBA - one ring
Earl Cureton- 12 years in the NBA - two rings
Terry Thomas - 1 year NBA - Pistons
Owen Wells - 1 year NBA Houston Rockets
Dennis Boyd - He was selected by the New Orleans Jazz in the 4th round (72nd pick overall) of the 1977 NBA Draft. He played for the Detroit Pistons (1978–79).
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby dennycrane » Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:58 pm

LIC's post above comports quite well with what I believe happened in about '80 - '81 and ruined a Top 25 basketball program. I did not specifically know about the scheduling authority issue. An unnamed administrator, probably a priest, made the fateful hire of Geracioti from the New York area. If I recall correctly, Geracioti had been an NIT committee member and was thought to have sway with them to get more tournament bids for UD. Of course with the poor choice of McCarter as coach, we never had a team worthy of a tournament for the next handful of years. The 16-12 Sicko team may have gotten a look but was not selected.
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Re: SMOKEY GAINES R.I.P.

Postby R.B.J1 » Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:18 pm

The-Dude wrote:Thanks Commish.

Not to derail this honorable topic but It’s little know fact that Coach Sicko was on the verge of turning UD into a national powerhouse but unfortunately, the dominos started falling and never stoped. If I may, please let me talk story:

Sicko led that 84-85 to a national level of respect and recognition. He was able to get Greg Wendt to transfer over from Duke and had an epic recruiting class coming in that included G John McIntyre, C Willie Carter, and F Dan Kennedy. In particular, John McIntyre was one of the top recruits in the County and had it not been for Glen Rice, he could have won Mr. Basketball. More importantly, word spread that we were getting national stars Derrick Coleman and Nathan Buntin and Underrated PG Bill Wood. It appeared that Sicko and his coaches were putting together a top 20-level team. How things unraveled is complicated but there are a couple of pillars to point out. During the start of the 85-86 campaign, John McIntyre who was projected starter and was expected to be a prolific scorer, became injured with a groin pull. He never recovered that season. A couple more untimely injuries coupled with a very tough schedule and apparent good fortunes turned to into a downward spiral. Behind the scenes, the University of Missouri illegally hired two highly influential Detroit City recruiters who got John McIntyre and Nathan Buntin to flip. When Buntin committed to Missouri, Coleman also looked elsewhere. It may seem like a strange Correlation, however, the Missouri illegal recruiting was a highly Detrimental to Coach Sicko and his vision of building a power house. Seems like a make believe fairly tale but the potential was real...


Coach Sicko had us on the doorsteps of being a successful program, he still recruited well despite all of the obstacles he faced. Sicko landed a pretty good class in 1986, signing four players in the state of Michigan pre-season top 25.

#7.Greg Bent-couldn't get admitted to UDM but played two seasons at Providence.
#14.Bill Wood-pure point guard, very solid.
#19. Matt Maher-I remember him sitting on the bench, tall,hairy and skinny.
#23. John Buszka-Tall,skinny, I remember him sitting on the bench a lot.
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