Nov 30, 2010
Albrecht Wins 700th Game

Randy Albrecht, 66, coached his 700th college basketball victory Monday night, the magic number coming at St. Louis Community College-Meramec as his Meramec Magic dismantled the Fontbonne University junior varsity 93-53.

No fewer than 668 of those wins have come at Meramec, where Albrecht, a former St. Louis University player, arrived in 1977 after spending 11 seasons as a coach at St. Louis University — eight as an assistant and three as head coach.

Less than half as many people as wins were on hand for the occasion, which was celebrated late in the game by fans holding up green “700” signs and then afterward with a banner which was presented to Albrecht.

Asked what it all meant, Albrecht said, “I’ve had a lot of good players who helped me get there. But, more important than that is that a lot of kids need this bridge from high school to the four-year schools. Community college provides that bridge.

Without that bridge, a lot of these kids have no place to go.”

When Albrecht, a native of Sparta, Ill., was fired at St. Louis U. in 1977 after the Bills compiled a 7-19 record, his road to 700 was not on any map because his three-year record at SLU was just 32-47.

But, after turning down a chance to become head coach at East Central Junior College in Union, Mo., or an assistant at Oklahoma State, Albrecht came to Meramec and never left. Nor does he have any immediate plans to leave, although there is speculation that he will coach one more year.

Linda Albrecht, who has known her husband since their grade school days in Sparta, has been married to him for 45 years.

“We’ve known nothing but basketball, she said. I can’t imagine life without him coaching or doing something in basketball.”

Randy Albrecht recalls a conversation he had with longtime college coach Gene Bartow a number of years ago. “I asked him, How do you know when you’re at the end of the line?’ Albrecht said. “He said, ‘When you hate going to practice.’

“I still practice. I still like the games, Albrecht said.

Albrecht, who besides coaching at Meramec for 34 seasons also created and still administers the popular high school Christmas basketball tournament at Meramec, has made many friends within the sport over the years and is in three Halls of Fame — the one at Meramec, the national junior college Hall of Fame and the Missouri basketball coaches Hall of Fame.

He’s just a good man and a good coach, said Charlie Spoonhour, the former St. Louis University coach who is recovering from lung transplant surgery in Durham, N.C.

Spoonhour used to bump into Albrecht when they were both assistants, Spoonhour at various schools. … He always had good information, Spoonhour said. He didn’t give you a whole lot of foolishness like some of those guys did.”

Kevin King, an attorney and former St. Louis high school star who played for Albrecht at St. Louis U. after transferring from Missouri, said Albrecht really had little chance at St. Louis U. because of its difficult schedule. “He didn’t have the horses to play at the level we played at, King said.

I don’t know a lot about the rest of his wins, said Bill Moulder, King’s backcourt partner at St. Louis U. and now an executive at Maritz. But his first 32 were probably the toughest 32. Scheduling was much different in those days than it is today. There weren’t any ‘wins’ on the schedule.”

In Albrecht’s last season at SLU, the Bills started 0-8. Two of the losses were to Illinois and one was to Kansas.

Neither King nor Moulder is surprised at all by the success Albrecht has achieved at Meramec.

“One of the things that sticks in my mind is that he is an extraordinarily intelligent person, King said. He had a very cerebral approach to the game.

“He just really understood basketball and I think he applied all of his intellect to the game of basketball. And when he does that, good things are going to happen.

“He got to do what he loves — coach basketball and to win. He got to do that at Meramec.”

Albrecht started his coaching career at St. Louis U. as an assistant to Buddy Brehmer for $5, 000 a year. After eight years as an assistant to Brehmer and Bob Polk, he took over the head coaching job in 1974.

St. Louis U. basketball was in a state of flux at the time, with the Billiken hierarchy not sure at what level the university’s program belonged. School officials even talked about moving basketball to NCAA Division II.

The Bills played some games at Kiel Auditorium, others at the Arena and once in a while even at West Pine Gym.

“We could never figure out what we were doing, Albrecht said.

Said Moulder, He was there in a time when the university was pulling in a different direction. He pretty much was a one-man band and maybe that was good training for him when he went to the junior college ranks.”

Albrecht said, “Looking back on it, I was in my early 30s. I made a lot of mistakes, I’m sure. I could have done a lot of things better than I did. I should have eased up on the nonconference schedule.

At one point, Albrecht recalled a conversation he had with the Rev. Daniel O’Connell, the university president. “I said, ‘What’s more important? Winning games — or the budget? He said, ‘Oh, the budget, of course.’

“I was foolish enough and young enough to believe he was telling the truth, said Albrecht, smiling.

But Albrecht wasn’t without work long after he was fired. Later that same year, Albrecht succeeded Meramec’s first coach, Jack Mimlitz, making $15,000 a year in 1977.

Albrecht entered this season trying to extend his and Meramec’s streak of consecutive winning seasons to 26. He wonders, though, what’s ahead for junior college athletics here.

Supposedly, there’s a lot of possible budget cuts for next year and athletics is back on the list again, Albrecht said.

What happens then to the David Freeses of the world?”

Freese, the Cardinals’ third baseman, played baseball at Lafayette High School and then went to the University of Missouri before quitting the team’s program, saying he was “burned out.”

Freese then decided he missed baseball and he got some aid at Meramec, where he starred before going back to major college ball at South Alabama.

Albrecht said, “I put up a couple of little signs here that said, ‘Anybody interested in basketball’ come to this meeting in a classroom that most people couldn’t find. Thirty-three kids show up and want to play basketball.

I’ve had three kids here who played no high school (basketball) at all. Two of the three got scholarships (to four-year schools).””

One of Albrecht’s favorites in that regard was George Calhoun, a 6-foot-10, 310-pounder who was at Hazelwood East but hadn’t played competitively.

When Albrecht and his staff were finished working with Calhoun, he was good enough to get a scholarship to Kentucky State and then became head coach at Kennedy High School here.

This year, Albrecht has a 25-year-old Brazilian, Regis Schafer, who had gone to a small town in Kansas to play junior college basketball but had been unhappy there and came to Meramec. Albrecht has another player, Alen Hadzimahovic, who is a Bosnian from Fox High School.

The 6-foot-4 Schafer had 16 points on Monday and the 6-6 Hadzimahovic had 20.

Albrecht makes no bones about being a basketball “lifer.”

“(Former Missouri Hall of Fame coach) Norm Stewart said something a few years ago, Albrecht said. He said, ‘Give me a good high school game, a bag of popcorn and a Coke and I’m happy.’ I identify with that.”

Albrecht Wins 700th Game

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Mo.), By Rick Hummel, stltoday.com

Randy Albrecht, 66, coached his 700th college basketball victory Monday night, the magic number coming at St. Louis Community College-Meramec as his Meramec Magic dismantled the Fontbonne University junior varsity 93-53.

No fewer than 668 of those wins have come at Meramec, where Albrecht, a former St. Louis University player, arrived in 1977 after spending 11 seasons as a coach at St. Louis University — eight as an assistant and three as head coach.

Less than half as many people as wins were on hand for the occasion, which was celebrated late in the game by fans holding up green “700” signs and then afterward with a banner which was presented to Albrecht.

Asked what it all meant, Albrecht said, “I’ve had a lot of good players who helped me get there. But, more important than that is that a lot of kids need this bridge from high school to the four-year schools. Community college provides that bridge.

Without that bridge, a lot of these kids have no place to go.”

When Albrecht, a native of Sparta, Ill., was fired at St. Louis U. in 1977 after the Bills compiled a 7-19 record, his road to 700 was not on any map because his three-year record at SLU was just 32-47.

But, after turning down a chance to become head coach at East Central Junior College in Union, Mo., or an assistant at Oklahoma State, Albrecht came to Meramec and never left. Nor does he have any immediate plans to leave, although there is speculation that he will coach one more year.

Linda Albrecht, who has known her husband since their grade school days in Sparta, has been married to him for 45 years.

“We’ve known nothing but basketball, she said. I can’t imagine life without him coaching or doing something in basketball.”

Randy Albrecht recalls a conversation he had with longtime college coach Gene Bartow a number of years ago. “I asked him, How do you know when you’re at the end of the line?’ Albrecht said. “He said, ‘When you hate going to practice.’

“I still practice. I still like the games, Albrecht said.

Albrecht, who besides coaching at Meramec for 34 seasons also created and still administers the popular high school Christmas basketball tournament at Meramec, has made many friends within the sport over the years and is in three Halls of Fame — the one at Meramec, the national junior college Hall of Fame and the Missouri basketball coaches Hall of Fame.

He’s just a good man and a good coach, said Charlie Spoonhour, the former St. Louis University coach who is recovering from lung transplant surgery in Durham, N.C.

Spoonhour used to bump into Albrecht when they were both assistants, Spoonhour at various schools. … He always had good information, Spoonhour said. He didn’t give you a whole lot of foolishness like some of those guys did.”

Kevin King, an attorney and former St. Louis high school star who played for Albrecht at St. Louis U. after transferring from Missouri, said Albrecht really had little chance at St. Louis U. because of its difficult schedule. “He didn’t have the horses to play at the level we played at, King said.

I don’t know a lot about the rest of his wins, said Bill Moulder, King’s backcourt partner at St. Louis U. and now an executive at Maritz. But his first 32 were probably the toughest 32. Scheduling was much different in those days than it is today. There weren’t any ‘wins’ on the schedule.”

In Albrecht’s last season at SLU, the Bills started 0-8. Two of the losses were to Illinois and one was to Kansas.

Neither King nor Moulder is surprised at all by the success Albrecht has achieved at Meramec.

“One of the things that sticks in my mind is that he is an extraordinarily intelligent person, King said. He had a very cerebral approach to the game.

“He just really understood basketball and I think he applied all of his intellect to the game of basketball. And when he does that, good things are going to happen.

“He got to do what he loves — coach basketball and to win. He got to do that at Meramec.”

Albrecht started his coaching career at St. Louis U. as an assistant to Buddy Brehmer for $5, 000 a year. After eight years as an assistant to Brehmer and Bob Polk, he took over the head coaching job in 1974.

St. Louis U. basketball was in a state of flux at the time, with the Billiken hierarchy not sure at what level the university’s program belonged. School officials even talked about moving basketball to NCAA Division II.

The Bills played some games at Kiel Auditorium, others at the Arena and once in a while even at West Pine Gym.

“We could never figure out what we were doing, Albrecht said.

Said Moulder, He was there in a time when the university was pulling in a different direction. He pretty much was a one-man band and maybe that was good training for him when he went to the junior college ranks.”

Albrecht said, “Looking back on it, I was in my early 30s. I made a lot of mistakes, I’m sure. I could have done a lot of things better than I did. I should have eased up on the nonconference schedule.

At one point, Albrecht recalled a conversation he had with the Rev. Daniel O’Connell, the university president. “I said, ‘What’s more important? Winning games — or the budget? He said, ‘Oh, the budget, of course.’

“I was foolish enough and young enough to believe he was telling the truth, said Albrecht, smiling.

But Albrecht wasn’t without work long after he was fired. Later that same year, Albrecht succeeded Meramec’s first coach, Jack Mimlitz, making $15,000 a year in 1977.

Albrecht entered this season trying to extend his and Meramec’s streak of consecutive winning seasons to 26. He wonders, though, what’s ahead for junior college athletics here.

Supposedly, there’s a lot of possible budget cuts for next year and athletics is back on the list again, Albrecht said.

What happens then to the David Freeses of the world?”

Freese, the Cardinals’ third baseman, played baseball at Lafayette High School and then went to the University of Missouri before quitting the team’s program, saying he was “burned out.”

Freese then decided he missed baseball and he got some aid at Meramec, where he starred before going back to major college ball at South Alabama.

Albrecht said, “I put up a couple of little signs here that said, ‘Anybody interested in basketball’ come to this meeting in a classroom that most people couldn’t find. Thirty-three kids show up and want to play basketball.

I’ve had three kids here who played no high school (basketball) at all. Two of the three got scholarships (to four-year schools).””

One of Albrecht’s favorites in that regard was George Calhoun, a 6-foot-10, 310-pounder who was at Hazelwood East but hadn’t played competitively.

When Albrecht and his staff were finished working with Calhoun, he was good enough to get a scholarship to Kentucky State and then became head coach at Kennedy High School here.

This year, Albrecht has a 25-year-old Brazilian, Regis Schafer, who had gone to a small town in Kansas to play junior college basketball but had been unhappy there and came to Meramec. Albrecht has another player, Alen Hadzimahovic, who is a Bosnian from Fox High School.

The 6-foot-4 Schafer had 16 points on Monday and the 6-6 Hadzimahovic had 20.

Albrecht makes no bones about being a basketball “lifer.”

“(Former Missouri Hall of Fame coach) Norm Stewart said something a few years ago, Albrecht said. He said, ‘Give me a good high school game, a bag of popcorn and a Coke and I’m happy.’ I identify with that.”






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