Men's Hoops Returns To Winning Ways With Breakthrough Season

March 22, 2001

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Nobody at JU has experienced winning more than head basketball coach Hugh Durham. As one of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history, Durham has won 573 games during his 33-year career. And in his fourth season at JU, Durham helped the Dolphins return to their winning ways leading Jacksonville to an 18-10 record, its best finish since the 1994-95 season, and its first winning record in five years.

The Dolphins reached the 18-win mark for the first time in six seasons and only the second time in the last 15 years. JU also enjoyed the second-biggest turnaround in school history with a 10-win difference from last season. And despite being picked as low as ninth in one preseason poll, the Dolphins finished in a three-way tie for third place in the Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC) with an 11-7 record.

"We had three goals entering the season: to reestablish a winning tradition at JU, to be competitive in the TAAC and to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament," said Durham, who has led his team to the postseason on 15 occasions. "We accomplished our goal of a winning season and we finished third in the conference after being picked near the bottom. However, the goal we didn't accomplish - making the NCAA Tournament - is the one we really want, and it is at the top of the list for next year's team."

JU's turnaround earned Durham TAAC Coach-of-the-Year honors by, while senior guard Shawn Platts earned second-team All-TAAC honors after finishing among the top three on the team in six different statistical categories. Senior center Kris Hunter was a big reason that the Dolphins sported one of the best defenses in school history and were among the top two defenses in the TAAC. Hunter finished the season with 114 blocked shots, which ranks second all-time at JU for single season - second only to the legendary Artis Gilmore (269). The 6-foot-11 center also ranked first in the conference and fifth nationally with 4.1 blocks per game as JU limited its opponents to a conference-best and school-record 41 percent field goal percentage. Dolphin opponents only averaged 63.7 points per game, the lowest total in 15 years, while JU went 16-1 in games in which its opponent scored 70 points or less.

The Dolphins also reestablished their home court advantage with a 12-2 record at historic Swisher Gymnasium, and got off to one of the best starts in school history winning seven straight games to open the season. Off the court, senior Brandon Williams earned academic all-conference honors after earning a 3.2 grade point average during the fall semester.

"The challenge for us now is to continue to improve and to maintain our winning ways," said Durham, who has posted 27 winning seasons in 33 years as a head coach. "We have set the standard for winning again at JU. Now we have to build on it."