Rick Majerus Wins No. 500

Even if Saint Louis University men's basketball head coach Rick Majerus didn't feel the need to be honored for winning his 500th game on Saturday, the rest of Chaifetz Arena and some of his colleagues believed it was surely deserved.

Back when Paul Biancardi was the head coach at Wright State, Majerus stopped by the Dayton, Ohio campus. He was good friends with Don Donoher, and Don's son Brian was an assistant coach under Biancardi at the time.

"He came up to see Don, but while he was in town he came to speak to the team," Biancardi said. "He took the whole afternoon and was very helpful. He provided a lot of insight. I'll never forget that moment."

Majerus went on to work for ESPN, but when he accepted the offer at Saint Louis, he tabbed Biancardi to come along. The 2007-2008 season allowed the new Billikens assistant to learn from one of the best.

"That man is brilliant," Biancardi said. "He made me a better coach in one year. He gave me the freedom and the autonomy to do practice and he's one of the best teachers and coaches of the game. Most people can't do both. They're either a great teacher or a great coach."

Throughout the years, Majerus has been well-known for getting the most out of his players. "He's a master at individual development," Biancardi said. "He makes average players good and good players great. Look at Andre Miller, Keith van Horn, or even Kwamain Mitchell. Michael Doleac ended up playing in the NBA. Brian Conklin now, I mean he has been great under Majerus."

Despite all the kind words and fans holding up '500' signs, Majerus made a straight shot towards the locker room Saturday before being brought out for a postgame ceremony.

"I was mad about the game," Majerus said after a 72-62 win over Division II Illnois-Springfield. "I wasn't going to come back out and Crews and Whitesell and those guys did a great job and you know, it was really nice of the university. They've been great. I've got great kids and I was just pissed off about how we played. The focus we brought tonight, I was really mad at myself."

In most humbling fashion, Majerus was more concerned about the way his team performed than the milestone itself. After being able to settle down, in an emotional moment, he was able to reflect back on the most important person in his life.

"I'm going to go out tonight," Majerus said. "My secretary said she's going to buy me a drink. I very rarely drink and I'm going to have two or three. No, really, I'm going to have one for my mom…"

After Biancardi echoed the sentiment of the current Saint Louis players and staff, it was Majerus who wanted to take a turn to give thanks.

"I want to say one thing," Majerus said with emotion. "I want to thank Saint Louis for going out of their way here and I really want to thank Coach [Al] McGuire and Coach [Hank] Raymonds, Nelly [Don Nelson], too. I was real lucky to work for the guys I worked for. I've been very lucky to coach the guys I've coached. Thank you."

Derrick Neuner contributed information to this report.


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