SPORTS PEOPLE

JU's Durham goes after win No. 600


Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 11:05 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE - Hugh Durham wouldn't change a thing.

The 65-year-old Jacksonville coach is one win away from becoming just the 10th active coach with 600 victories. He could get it Saturday night when the Bulls host struggling Gardner-Webb.

A victory would put Durham in the same club with Jim Phelan, Bobby Knight, Lou Henson, Eddie Sutton, John Chaney, Lute Olson, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim.

Durham's 35-year career includes three schools, eight NCAA tournaments and one national championship game.

And no regrets.

``I never feel like I'm going to work,'' Durham said. ``(My wife) Malinda has never heard me say, 'I'm going to work.' It's always that I'm going to the gym, or I'm off to practice or I'm headed to the office. I don't look at this as work. It's challenging, but it's been fun.''

Durham began coaching in 1966 when Florida State gave the 27-year old assistant coach the head job. Durham quickly showed he could handle the job. He guided the Seminoles into the NCAA tournament in his second year.

Four years later, he took Florida State to the national title game, losing by five points to UCLA, which was in the midst of a 12-year span that included 10 championships.

After 12 years in Tallahassee, Durham took over at Georgia in 1978. He spent 17 years with the Bulldogs, winning 297 games, taking the team to the Final Four in 1983 and being named Southeastern Conference coach of the year four times.

``You've got to have good players to win and you get good players by having good assistant coaches,'' Durham said.

``I've been blessed to have loyal, hardworking assistants that have been invaluable to me and our program over the years.''

Durham left Georgia in 1995 after an 18-10 season and a berth in the NIT. He sat out two years before taking over at Jacksonville, a program that went 5-23 the previous season.

It took Durham three years to turn the Bulls around. Now he is coming off consecutive 18-win seasons and is one victory away from becoming just the 32nd Division I coach to win 600 games.

``Coaching centers around enjoying it, and if you aren't enjoying it then you aren't being fair to yourself and your players,'' said Durham, who plans to coach at least two more years. ``The part I enjoy the most is practice and games. It's the time you wake up on game day until the game starts is what I detest. That's the time my stomach is grinding, the palms are moist, the worrying occurs.

``But I've been blessed with good health. I haven't missed a game or practice due to health problems, so knock on wood, hopefully that will continue.''

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