His patience finally paid off after MU's 1977 National Championship when he was named the 10th coach in Marquette history, finally stepping out of Al McGuire's shadow. Patience was just one of Coach's many virtues. He was also a humble man, strong in his Catholic faith and a very good teacher. The role of emcee, which Al so often used to describe his manner of running the basketball program, did not fit Hank well. His wardrobe really did not change that much when he became head coach. He still favored the plaid couture of his coaching brethren. And he always found teaching moments during games, putting an arm on the shoulder of a player and pointing with the ever-present rolled-up program before sending a player back out onto the court.
Beginning with the 1977-78 season, Coach hit the ground running. He kept Marquette's basketball ship of state rolling right along. The Warriors compiled an impressive 24-4 mark that season en route to finishing #3 in the final United Press International poll. It was during MU's run to the NCAA Tournament that I first heard the players talk about the Marquette family, and how Coach had inculcated that value in the team. It seemed that the program did not skip a beat in the transition from Al to Hank.
During my junior and senior years at Marquette, I watched "The Maestro of The Mecca" choreograph the middle years of his six straight winning seasons. Coach won over 71 percent of his games (126-50 record) and brought the Warriors to postseason appearances every one of those years (five NCAA, one NIT). He coached five All-Americas, and 16 of his players were drafted by the NBA. I will always remember the rolled-up program, and how he would occasionally slam it to the floor when something did not go Marquette's way, showing his competitive side. The tighter the game, the tighter Coach rolled that program in his fist.
The next season (1978-79) the Warriors finished 22-7 and #10 in the country, according to that season's final AP Poll. That MU team was Coach's only one that advanced as far as the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Still, MU posted some big time wins against big time schools during the Raymonds Era, including Duke (at the old Wisconsin Fieldhouse), at Notre Dame and at Missouri. One of the most memorable wins was triggered by freshman Doc Rivers, one of Hank's greatest recruits and one of the most sought after players in the country out of Proviso East High School in Maywood, IL. Before a frenzied Mecca crowd, Rivers launched a prayer that banked in off the backboard to defeat Notre Dame as time expired in 1981. It still is referred to as "The Shot Heard Round Milwaukee."
Early in the 1982-83 season, Coach had announced he would retire at season's end and hand over the reins to Rick Majerus. He would concentrate full-time on his athletic director duties. After the Warriors completed a successful 19-9 season, Coach anxiously awaited the call from the NCAA Tournament Committee. When he received the tournament bid, Coach blurted out a relieved "Thank God," and smiled broadly. Everyone was happy for coach as he approached his farewell tournament. And even though MU lost a heartbreaker to Tennessee 57-56, Coach went out his way, still the Happy Warrior.
During his tenure as athletic director, Coach always kept the door open for former players, bringing them back for reunions, old timer games and other events, and introducing them to the new kids on the block on the teams of succeeding MU coaches. The former players helped pass on Coach's life lessons to the new players, especially those on life after basketball. Coach's role as athletic director allowed him to open up the Marquette family to other student-athletes on campus by providing scholarship opportunities for women's sports programs at MU, and elevating those programs to Division 1 status. All the while, Coach was extending the great legacy that he had started years before.
The more Coach gave of himself, the greater his stature grew. But he never changed. He treated everyone equally well, regardless of their station in life. Even as Marquette's senior statesman, he was still - as he wrote at the end of the Christmas cards he sent to my family - "Just an old coach." And just as with his players, Coach was always there with advice and encouragement for all of the coaches who followed Rick Majerus. Bob Dukiet, Kevin O'Neill, Mike Deane, Tom Crean and now Buzz Williams. Hank also was there for Doc Rivers as he negotiated his NBA coaching career, and even opposing coaches like UWM Coach Rob Jeter (a former MU assistant). His hug of Coach Jeter prior to an MU-UWM game, shortly after the passing of Jeter's father - former Green Bay Packer star Bob Jeter - was fondly remembered by those who attended the game." The gesture brought to mind one of the highest compliments that Coach received from his peers in the coaching profession: Christian gentleman.
Clad in his familiar gold sweater, Coach could always be seen at his regular spot at the scorer's table in the Bradley Center for MU games, offering a graduate class in basketball for those sitting near him. Coach was not just a fan of Marquette men's basketball, but of all MU sports. He and Jinny were regulars at the Women's games at the McGuire Center, in addition to MU soccer matches and other sports events on campus. Always chatting, glad-handing and sharing stories; touching all members of the MU family in his inimitable way, and somehow always remembering faces and names.
Even with all of the Hall of Fame honors Coach received during his lifetime (M Club, Wisconsin Athletic Association, Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association, St. Louis University, St. Louis Sports, CBC, etc.), probably the greatest honor was having a scholarship endowed in his name. The Hank Raymonds Scholarship Fund dinners allowed Coach and his family to continue to give back to Marquette, even after he had officially retired as athletic director in 1987. It allowed him to give his greatest gift: unconditional love. He always gave the full measure in his life, whether it was time, money, advice or good wishes, and never expected anything in return. Upon his retirement, the university gave Coach a check for $10,000. He returned the check and requested that it be used to fund scholarships. As it turned out, that $10,000 was the seed money for what eventually became the Blue & Gold Fund.
Joseph Declan Moran is the author of "You Can Call Me Al: The Colorful Journey of College Basketball's Original Flower Child, Al McGuire" and "Goin' Uptown: Marquette's March to Madness and Return to the Final Four." Parts3 of this article will be published here on Sunday.