Former Memphis Basketball Coach Larry Finch Dies

Published April 02, 2011

| Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn.  -- Larry Finch, who coached his alma mater Memphis for 11 seasons after a brief pro basketball career as a player, died Saturday at age 60.

Memphis Tigers spokesman Lamar Chance said Finch died Saturday but he did not know the cause of death.

Finch suffered a debilitating stroke in 2002 at age 51. In October 2010, he was hospitalized for treatment of pneumonia.

As Tigers' coach from 1986 to 1997, he compiled a 220-130 record. He took the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament six times, including a run to the final eight in 1992.

Finch, a guard, played for the Tigers from 1970 to 1973, scoring 1,869 points. The 1973 team lost to Bill Walton-led UCLA in the NCAA championship game despite Finch's 29 points.

Finch's jersey, No. 21, was retired in 1974.

In 2000, the school named the Tigers' practice facility after Finch.

He was born in Memphis and attended Melrose High School.

He was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1973, but signed instead with the Memphis Tams of the American Basketball Association. He played professionally with the Tams, which later became the Memphis Sounds, and then the Baltimore Hustlers and the Baltimore Claws.

After his pro career, he went into coaching, and was a Memphis assistant when he was elevated to head coach, succeeding Dana Kirk.

In an interview in April 2008 with The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Finch said he still loved basketball.

"I watch basketball every night (on TV)," he said at the Quince Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Finch was asked why he helped Walton off the court in the 1973 title game after the UCLA star suffered a sprained ankle. Walton scored 44 points.

"Because he was kicking our butt," he said, laughing.

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