College basketball lost two greats this week. Former North Carolina coach Dean Smith died Saturday at the age of 83, and four days later, former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian died. He was 84. Both men had long battled health problems.
On Wednesday, UConn coach Kevin Ollie was asked about Smith and Tark.
“I knew Jerry Tarkanian a little bit more than Dean," Ollie said, via the New Haven Register. "I didn’t ever really get a chance to talk to Dean Smith. The latter part of his career, I was still in the NBA. I had a chance to get recruited by ... UNLV, had a chance to talk to Tark. It’s unfortunate. I love those guys to death. They’ve done a lot for our profession and really allowed us to do what we do now. They paved a great way for us. And they always cared about their team and their student-athletes. It’s two guys we’re really gonna miss in the game, and my heart goes out to their families.”
Earlier in the week, before Tarkanian passed away, former UConn coach and Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun spoke about Smith's influence -- in basketball and beyond.
"His work with desegregation and women's rights showed what an equally incredible person he was. What he means to the people of North Carolina is immeasurable. Dean Smith was the epitome of what a college basketball coach should be and he will be greatly missed."