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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Jud Heathcote Edition

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College basketball loses a great coach, and Kentucky gets ready for Southern Miss.


Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.

This morning’s big story is a sad one… and a happy one, as many such stories are. Jud Heathcote, the former coach of the Michigan State Spartans who led MSU to their first NCAA Tournament championship in 1979, has died. That’s the sad part.

The happy part is that he lived a robust 90 years, and coached one of the iconic games ever in NCAA history — the showdown between Magic Johnson’s Spartans and Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores — a game that foretold a legendary rivalry that spanned more than a decade in the professional ranks between two of the greatest basketball players in history. He had another Big Ten championship in 1990 to go along with those in 1978 and 1979. Heathcote was Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1978 and 1986, and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Current MSU coach (and a legend and Hall of Famer in his own right) Tom Izzo coached at Heathcote’s side, and took over for him in 1995. Izzo had this to say about his former mentor and friend:

“Without a doubt, he was one of the most influential people in my life, giving me a chance when no one else would. Any coaching success I’ve ever had is because of him.”

Godspeed, coach, and congratulations on a life well and fully lived.

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