Shocker Summer: Gary Thompson didn’t need to make many changes

08/10/2014 5:00 AM

08/13/2014 12:34 PM

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in The Eagle on April 3, 1964.

New University of Wichita head basketball coach Gary Thompson Thursday said there will be a little difference in the style of play shown by the 1964-65 Shockers and last season’s Missouri Valley Conference co-champions.

“To many fans, there may not be any difference at all,” he said.

The 31-year-old Thompson was named Thursday to succeed Ralph Miller at the Shocker head cage post. Miller resigned last Monday to accept the University of Iowa head basketball job.

Thompson, elevated from the No. 1 assistant post and a former player under Miller, didn’t promise everything to be exactly the same.

“No two men think exactly alike,” he said. “But you may not notice a change.”

Thompson played under Miller at Wichita East High School and had three varsity seasons under Miller when the departing Shocker coach began his college coaching career.

In the past four seasons Thompson was Miller’s varsity assistant. He was given a high recommendation by Miller to be his successor.

The new Shocker mentor said his first order of business will be to select his two assistant coaches.

“I have some men in mind but until today I didn’t have anything to offer them,” he said Thursday. “I would not like to mention any names right now because I don’t want them to read about it before I have talked with them.”

Thompson hopes to announce his staff within a week.

His chief concern Thursday was that the delay necessitated by Iowa’s negotiations with Miller and the special selection committee’s necessary deliberations had put Wichita three weeks behind in its recruiting schedule.

He said Wichita has made initial contacts but has not had the opportunity to make the “secondary contacts.”

The status of Shocker freshman coach Lanny Van Eman was uncertain. It is apparent he will be on either Miller’s staff at Iowa or Thompson’s staff at WU, but no announcement has been made which way he will go.

Thompson said he has been given a “free hand” in naming his assistants.

It was learned that Thompson was the unanimous choice of the 6-man board selected to screen coaching applicants.

Athletic coordinator Bob Donaldson said no other applicants were brought in although several were interviewed by telephone.

Thompson’s selection was with the approval of university president Emory Lindquist.

Donaldson said the Wichita Board of Regents and the Kansas Board of Regents were advised of the action.

Thompson was given a 1-year contract but when the university’s athletic corporation becomes effective on July 1, he will be awarded a 3-year pact. The athletic corporation will begin business when the school becomes Wichita State University July 1.

Wichita finished its season with a 23-6 over-all record this past season.

Said Thompson Thursday: “I accept the challenge of the job of head basketball coach at the University of Wichita. We have had one of the finest basketball programs found anywhere. I intend to maintain the standard.

“I wish to express my heart-felt thanks to President Lindquist, members of the special athletic committee and others who have expressed confidence in me.

“I wish to say a special thanks to members of the press, radio and television . . . to the many fans who have supported me . . . and a very special thanks to Coach Miller.”

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