Merrillville grad was assistant coach on Louisville's first NCAA championship team

2013-04-07T19:00:00Z 2013-07-11T21:06:12Z Merrillville grad was assistant coach on Louisville's first NCAA championship teamMike Nieto, (219) 933-3232
April 07, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

Jerry Jones will be rooting for Louisville tonight when it plays for the national championship.

"Right here in my big chair," the 1952 Merrillville grad said. "It's going to be exciting."

Jones, who was also a 1958 Valparaiso University grad, has a rooting interest because he was an assistant coach under Denny Crum when the Cardinals won their first title in 1980 at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Jones, who was a Louisville assistant from 1973-96, was there for the 1986 NCAA championship team.

While Jones does not want to compare the 1980 team to this one, he said they are similar in one way.

"Both come to practice and work hard every day," Jones said. "These guys are a good group of guys and (coach) Rick (Pitino) is not afraid tor play 'em all."

The 1980 team featured captains Darrell Griffith, aka Dr. Dunkenstein, and Michigan City Elston grad Tony Branch. The Cardinals also had Bobby Turner, Poncho Wright, Jerry Eaves, Rodney and Scooter McCray, and Roger Burkman.

"That team never had a bad practice," Jones said. "They were a lot of fun, but they came to work.

"This team, I go to some of the practices and this group is the same way. they always come up with a big run."

Jones was an assistant coach on the 2011 Class 4A state champion Jeffersonville girls team, and, at age 79, is now an assistant on the boys team that lost in a semistate to Indianapolis Cathedral.

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