Friday, May 29, 2009

Miranda mourned

Former KU hoops aide dies at 78


Former KU men's basketball assistant dies

Former KU basketball assistant coach Sam Miranda passed away Thursday morning at the age of 78.

Ted Owens says one of the best things that ever happened to him took place in the spring of 1964.

That’s when University of New Mexico assistant basketball coach Sam Miranda phoned to inquire about a job opening on Owens’ first Kansas University coaching staff.

Owens hired him, and in 13 ensuing seasons, the two were part of five league championship and two Final Four teams.

“Sam was a great friend, a special friend of 45 years who made outstanding contributions to the KU basketball program,” Owens said Thursday in a phone conversation from Tulsa after learning that Miranda had died in his Lawrence home at the age of 78.

“He was an outstanding coach, a fine recruiter and really a dedicated worker,” Owens added. “In recent months, we talked quite a bit on the phone reminiscing about old times and laughing about the great times. It’s been a hard day. I’ve had a lot of people calling to tell me, including Roger.”

That would be former KU player Roger Morningstar, who, like Collinsville, Ill., native Miranda, hails from Illinois, but has lived in Lawrence for many years.

“Coach Miranda earned a tremendous amount of respect,” Morningstar said. “Everybody who played for him was touched by him. He was incredibly loyal and dedicated. He was the king of tough love.

“He may have been the toughest human being I’ve ever known. He didn’t ask for respect. He got respect from everybody — from the greatest players here to the schmoes like myself who were just role players. He never treated anybody differently.”

Former KU athletic director Bob Frederick worked with Miranda as an assistant coach on Owens’ KU staff.

“Sam was really a great person and outstanding coach,” Frederick said. “He was extremely organized and disciplined, a no-nonsense coach. Sam and his wife, Polly, were wonderful to Margey (Frederick’s wife) and myself. Sam was the best man at our wedding 37 years ago. They are really nice people.”

Miranda helped bring players like Jo Jo White, Dave Robisch, Morningstar, Roger Brown, Dale Greenlee and so many more to KU.

“He was a great recruiter. He went home every single night to make recruiting calls. There were no limits (on calls) at the time,” Frederick said. “He was well respected as a recruiter and as a coach. We’ll really miss him.”


kufan80 11 years, 2 months ago

I remember coach Miranda when I was a youngster at Jayhawk basketball camps. I have some special memories with him at the camps during the drills and at the assemblies. He was one of my favorite coaches.

Tony Bandle 11 years, 2 months ago

Having been at KU from 1966 to 1971, I witnessed first hand the contributions that Coach Miranda made. At every timeout, before he talked to the team, Ted spoke with Sam. All during the game, Sam would keep talking to Ted, advising him on in-game adjustments.

Ted Owens is given credit, and rightly so, for his outstanding recruiting abilities but little did people know that in most cases, Sam made the initial contacts and got KU's foot in the recruit's door.

Ted and Sam bled Crimson and Blue, loved KU and all our tradition but most of all, were men of principle, honesty and sincere passion for all that is good with the game of basketball.

I am guessing Dr. Naismith, Phog and Sam are discussing basketball strategies right now in a better place.

jaybate 11 years, 2 months ago


Thank you for saying it better than I could have.

FairgroveJayhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

Reading these kind words makes me proud to be a Jayhawk and helps me to better recognize the roots of the Kansas tradition.

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