Herb Magee: 903 Reasons Why Shooting Wins

WesAnalyst IFebruary 23, 2010

The most important thing in basketball is not defense, passing, or dribbling.

It’s shooting.

Don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the winningest coach in NCAA men’s basketball history regardless of division and not including NAIA wins.

Before you rack your brain trying to think about the man who believes in the importance of shooting while also piling up 903 career wins, let me give you a hint:

He is not Bob Knight, Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, or Mike Krzyzewski. Eliminating those names from your list should help you out a little bit.

Okay, one more clue:

He is a Philadelphia legend.

No, it’s not John Chaney, Rollie Massimino, or any other coach in the Division I ranks.

The man in question is Philadelphia University head coach Herb Magee. The Division II coach picked up win No. 903 with a 75-65 win over Goldey-Beacom College Tuesday night in front of the home faithful and that’s the way it should have been.

Magee, who grew up in West Philadelphia and attended West Catholic High School, has been a fixture at Philadelphia University, formerly Philadelphia Textile Institute, since 1959.

As a player there, Magee accumulated 2,235 points. And he did that without a three-point line. Oh, and he helped the Rams win 75 games while only losing 17 times. He was also a member of the 1963 team that won the Eastern Regional Championship.

Magee was destined to be a winner and it followed him after college as the Boston Celtics drafted Magee with the 62nd overall selection in the 1963 draft. Magee was going to play with John Havlicek, K.C. Jones, and Bill Russell, but he declined.

Instead of piling up championships in the NBA he went back to his alma mater and served as an assistant under his former coach, Bucky Harris.

You’re not reading that wrong. Magee decided to study under the tutelage of Harris instead of playing under the direction of Red Auerbach.

Maybe that move is surprising, but that’s Herb Magee.

He has been offered multiple jobs to coach at other college programs and in the NBA. Magee has respectfully declined each offer because he doesn’t want to leave Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is the place he calls home and the place where he mastered his craft.

It only seems fitting that Magee learned the tricks of the trade under his former coach before he was named head coach at Philadelphia University in 1967 at the ripe-old age of 25.

Magee hit the ground running as he went 41-11 in his first two seasons at the helm. His third season got off to a less than stellar start as the Rams lost two of their first three games.

Magee didn’t buckle though. Nah, he just guided his team to 28-straight wins, a 29-2 record, and a national championship.

And he did it all with class.

He’s not a cocky guy even though he can shoot like it’s nobody’s business and has more wins than any NCAA coach you can think of.

He runs a clean program in an era when it seems like anyone who wins on a consistent basis is also dodging NCAA sanctions.

Magee doesn’t have time for that. He is more concerned about teaching children, young adults, and NBA stars the art of shooting. If you grew up in the Philadelphia area and attended basketball camps, there is a decent chance you met Magee and saw him in action.

He probably came strolling through the doors with a non-descript t-shirt and shorts, and a pair of sneaks that weren’t flashy. He looked more like an old man that got lost and wandered into the gym instead of a man called, ”The Shot Doctor.”

In the blink of an eye it begins.

Swish, swish, swish, swish.

After about 12 shots that touch nothing but twine you begin to realize this guy is good. Actually, you wonder if this is some kind of magic show, because your eyes must be lying to you.

Once you realize it is real, you begin to understand the importance of shooting the rock well, and how it improves everyone’s abilities on the court.

A team that shoots well causes the defense to play extended. An extended defense allows room for the offense to dribble. An extended defense creates passing lanes and the opportunity to get layups.

A team that can shoot well causes the defense to wear itself down. And if you run down the opposition while they play defense you can rest assure their legs will be too tired to shoot efficiently.

But most importantly, if you shoot the ball well you will have the opportunity to score one more point than the opposition. And with one more point, you walk away a winner.

But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Herb Magee, who used that method to win 903 times.