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Bruce Drake

December 5, 1905 - December 4, 1983







The Norman Transcript
December 5, 1983


Former coach remembered for talent


By Harold Keith
For The Transcript


Bruce Drake, 78, former Oklahoma basketball, golf and swimming coach, who died Sunday after a brief illness, was noted for his ingenious offenses, his rugged schedules and his championing of the small player in basketball.

Christian Science services for Drake, who also was probably the finest all-around athlete ever to wear Sooner silks, start at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Mayes Funeral Directors.

Drake was a solid coach in four phases of basketball- collegiate, AAU, armed forces and Olympic. He was five years chairman of basketball's most powerful body, the National Rules Committee of The United States and Canada. Before that, he served five years as its treasurer. An All-American, he was elected to the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame as both a player and coach and was also enshrined in the National Basketball Hall of Fame at Springfield, Mass.

He is particularly remembered for knocking out goaltending, the practice of a tall player leaping high to slap out shots about to enter the ring. Attacking the practice in a Saturday Evening Post article, Drake organized the nation's coaches overwhelmingly against it. His ban still stands. Professional basketball also adopted it.

In 1944, Drake had to face Bob Kurland, Coach Hank Iba's seven-foot center, an excellent goaltender at Oklahoma A&M.; The Sooner tutor promptly invited Jimmy St. Clair, chairman of the National Rules Committee, to the game here, built him a platform above the north goal and posted him there in a chair to look down on the result of Kurland's tending. Iba's team won, 14-11, a game in which the Sooners stalled almost continually.

Harold "Scooter" Hines, 5-foot 51/2-inch Sooner forward, jumped center against Kurland to start one of Drake's stalls in a later game against the Aggies ("I didn't even jump," laughs Hines.) Drake put Merle Dinkins, a Sooner foot-ball player, on stilts, clothed him in elongated warmups and Dinkins participated in the pre-game drill, glaring ar Kurland. Unimpressed, the Aggie redhead funneled in 30 points.

In a later Sooner-Aggie battle at Stillwater, Drake braved the Aggie fan wrath by instructing Allie Paine, his captain and guard, to sit on the basketball in the center circle for long periods of time although the Sooners trailed by three points. I know it smells, Iba described goaltending. I hope Bob helps eliminate it from the game. That stamped its abondonment as an all-Oklahoma production.

Drake's chief coaching rivals were Iba and Dr. Forest C. "Phog" Allen of Kansas, two of the most formidable in the game. Drake liked that. Fearless and resourceful, he always wanted to go against the best. In his 20 years as a coach, he won or tied for ine Big Six and Big Seven championships.

Once on the morning of a game against Kansas at Lawrence, Drake took a walk to calm his nerves. At a pep rally in the Jayhawk auditoriam, Dr. Allen was attacking Drake for Drake's part in an eligibility dispue. never dreaming that the Oklahoma coach was near. Drake walked in, asked for a rebuttal and vigorously described Oklahoma's side of the argument after which the Kansas students cheered him to the echo.

Drake's best Oklahoma team was his 1947 outfit that won the conference by two full games. This club knew how to win on the road. It bested Wisconsin's Big Ten kings 56-40 at Madison, beat CCNY's Eastern regional runners-up 55-52 at Madison Square Garden, bested Bradley's Braves 65-64 at Peoria, trimmed Oklahoma A&M;'s Sugar Bowl champions 48-41 at Stillwater, St. Louis' Valley champs 47-41 at Kansas City, Oregon State's Pacific Coast kings's 56-54 at Kansas City and Texas Southwest Conference champs 56-54 at Kansas City before losing the 1947 NCAA finals to Holy Cross in New York.

His only defeats in NCAA play were to Holy Cross in the 1947 finals, to Oregon State's national champions in the 1939 semifinals and to Wyoming's national champions in 1943.

When Drake resigned at Oklahoma, he was hurt because people thought that he has lost his coaching touch. He quickly disabused them of that idea when he directed the Air Force service team to a 34-14 record and later that year assisted Gerald Tucker, his greatest player, as coach of the American Olympic team that stormed over the Soviet Union at Melbourne, Australia, to win in the championship of the world.

Next season, the spirited Drake entered a fourth field of coaching, coxwaining the Wichita Kan. Vickers to a tie for the National AAU championship. Thus he laid to rest forever the erroneous idea that the game had passed him by. After retiring from coaching, he operated a real estate agency here.

Drake founded the golf team at Oklahoma, brilliantly coached its first 16 teams and in the earlier years personally bore some of the travel expenses as well as transporting his team to the big meets in his family automobile. His Sooner niblick squads once won 33 consecutive dual meets , swept 21 of 26 duals against arch rival Oklahoma A&M; and in 1933 Walter Emery, one of Drake's boys, won the NCAA championship. Drake was a crack golfer himself. The Sooner clubhouse is named for him.

Drake is past president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, a member of the Oklahoma Athletic Hall of Fame and a member of the All- College tournament Hall of Fame. He has conducted basketball clinics around the world, his most recent one at Athens, Greece, where he worked with all varieties of coaches from professional to high school.

Although the Sooners had no pool, Drake founded the swmming team, too. His small squads, led by distance ace Jack Davis, broke several Big Six Conference records and twice placed in the NCAA meet. Before the Sooners finally gained a new pool, Davis sometimes trained in Winter in a pond north of Norman.

As a athlete at Oklahoma, Drake played on Coach Hugh McDermott's 1928 and 1929 Sooner cage teams that were all-victorious in conference play. In 1927, weighting only 165 pounds, Drake went out for football at OU and lettered two years at quaterback although he never played the game in high school or as an Ou freshman. In track, he was Rice and Kansas relays pole vault champion. At Oklahoma City Central High School, he made the cross- country team and was un beatable in handball.

A member of the Norman Christian Science Church, he is survived by his wife, Myrtle, two daughters,Mrs. Donna Pendarvis of Norman and Mrs. Deonne Moore of Porterville, Calif.; two sisters, Mrs. Mary Dodson of League City, Texas and Lucille Zalkkind of Los Angeles, and six grandchildren, Bruce, Deonna and Donnie Moore and by Price Drake, Patti and Page Deonne Pendarvis.

The family requests memorials go the the Christian Science Church of Norman.




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