Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall wanted one of his coaching mentors to join him in Atlanta for the Final Four.
Marshall spent eight seasons (1988-96) as an assistant to John Kresse at the College of Charleston, helping that program move from an NAIA power to the NCAA.
Marshall called Kresse on Monday afternoon. Kresse expected a short conversation. Instead it turned into 20 minutes.
“Most coaches would be somewhat exhausted at this particular juncture,” Kresse said. “His energy level Monday afternoon on the phone and his happiness and joy were something.”
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Kresse, who had no plans to go to the Final Four, is staying in the team hotel and was scheduled to eat dinner with the team on Friday. He will sit with Marshall’s family at the game after having done some scouting work on Louisville.
“I didn’t have a ticket or a bed, but he invited me to Atlanta and to have a spot in his hotel,” Kresse said. “That’s where I will happily be, supporting the Shockers.”
Kresse coached 23 seasons at the College of Charleston and won the 1983 NAIA title. In 1989, the school moved to NCAA Division I and went 19-8. In 1992, the Cougars earned the first of four NCAA Tournament spots. In 1997, they beat Maryland in the first round before losing to eventual champion Arizona 73-69.
College of Charleston finished the season 29-3 and ranked No. 16. Kresse credits Marshall, who moved to Marshall University as an assistant coach, with building that team.
“It was more his team than anybody else’s,” Kresse said. “Without Gregg, I don’t know if we would have made that transition.”
Kresse retired in 2002 and works as an assistant to the director of athletics at the College of Charleston.