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Texas Tech Basketball
dickey.jpg (9241 bytes)Head Coach James Dickey

James Dickey is humble about success, yet people in West Texas and all around the country are beginning to wonder about the coaching powers Texas Tech’s basketball coach may possess.

Over Dickey’s five years, Texas Tech has to its credit a Sweet 16 appearance, two Southwest Conference titles, two Post-Season Basketball Classic championships, and an average of 20 victories a season.

And remember, just five years back, Tech had wallowed through a fourth consecutive losing season and was mired in a 13-45 two-year slump. With Dickey at the controls, the Red Raiders are on the verge of being an honest-to-goodness national power.

And just in time for the Big 12.

"We do feel that our program has made progress over the past five years," says the 42-year-old Dickey. "We are pleased with the progress, but certainly not satisfied and we continue to have goals as we move on into a new era as the Big 12 begins."

There was something special about year number five at Texas Tech for James Dickey. Surrounded with leadership and basking in talent, Dickey’s troops turned in the most memorable season in Tech men’s basketball history in 1995-96. His squad won a school-record 30 games, swept through the final Southwest Conference regular season and Dr Pepper SWC Post-Season Classic without a defeat and advanced to the Sweet 16 -- taking a backboard and national power North Carolina down along its way. It took Georgetown and Alien Iverson to stop Tech’s school- record 23-game winning streak.

In 1995-96, the Red Raiders jumped into the Top 10 for the first time in school history, winding up No. 8 in the Associated Press poll and 10th according to the CNN/USA Today version. Dickey’s team was as high as seventh during the campaign. The Red Raiders were also the first Texas Tech men’s team to beat rival Texas three times in one season. To say the least, it was quite a year.

"Going 30-2 was a special accomplishment for last year’s squad," says Dickey. "However, the real excitement and success came from watching the four seniors develop over the past four years. We had a special group of underclassmen who certainly contributed."

Jason Sasser, drafted as the 41st pick in the second round of the NEA draft by Sacramento, was the SWC’s unanimous Player of the Year. Tony Battle earned second-team all-conference honors from the head coaches, while Gory Carr and Darvin Ham earned second-team honors from the Associated Press. Jason Martin was selected second-team AII-SWC by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Entering the 1996-97 season, Dickey has led Tech to victory in 41 of its last 46 games. The Red Raiders are currently riding the nation’s second longest winning streak at home with 30 consecutive wins in the friendly confines of Lubbock Municipal Coliseum. Tech, which posted the best record of any Southwest Conference team ever to play in the NCAA Tournament, put the finishing touches on a magical SWC ride by being only the fourth conference squad to go unbeaten in league action. Dickey’s Red Raiders finished with 18 consecutive home conference victories and claimed 25 of their last 27 SWC contests.

In his five seasons at the helm, the Valley Springs, Ark., native has brought the Red Raider roundball program back to a level that has fans thinking of annual conference title runs and NCAA tournament berths. When Big 12 followers talk basketball, they will include Texas Tech along side Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas. Considered by many to be one of the true up-and-coming stars in the college basketball coaching ranks, Dickey has indeed elevated the Red Raider program to a point of being mentioned among the nation’s elite.

His Texas Tech teams have amassed a 100-49 overall record in his five seasons. Considering the plight of the program before his arrival (35-79 in four years), the resurgence of the Raiders has been quite revealing.

He took over the program on April 10, 1991. The Raiders made great strides that first season, posting a winning mark of 15-14 and pulling off several key wins, including an emotional victory over a Top 25-ranked Tulane team.

After being picked to finish last in Dickey’s inaugural season, the Red Raiders finished fifth at 6-8 in the league standings and Dickey earned well-deserved honors for his team’s turnaround performance. He was named consensus Southwest Conference Coach of the Year and also was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches District IX Coach of the Year which placed him automatically as a nominee for national honors. Current Red Raider- assistant coach Will Flemons was honored as SWC Player of the Year and consensus first team AII-SWC.

Dickey’s status grew when the ‘92-93 Red Raiders put together an impressive three-game run in the 1993 SWC Post- Season Classic. The ultimate victory came in the championship game as Tech defeated the Houston Cougars 88-76 and earned the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. It marked Tech’s first venture to the NCAAs since 1986. The SWC Post- Season Classic title marked the fourth such crown in school history. Only in his second year, Dickey had won the championship quicker than any previous coach.

Dickey branded more success on the Red Raider program when Texas Tech finished 17-11 in 1993-94. Tech’s 16-10 regular-season mark and the 10-4 league record were the best by a Texas Tech team since the 1985 team won the SWC crown.

A year later, the 1994-95 Red Raiders climbed the national ladder by winning their first league crown in 10 years. A 20-10 mark gave Tech a 20-win season for the first time since 1985 and the Red Raiders made their second post-season appearance in three years, albeit in the NIT rather than the NCAA tournament. That disappointment resulted in major motivation for the 1995-96 squad, and with all but two players returning, led to Tech’s record-breaking 30-2 campaign.

Dickey has been adorned with some sort of "Coach of the Year" honors in each of his first five seasons at the helm. Twice he was the league coaches’ selection as the Southwest Conference Coach of the Year, including the unanimous choice last season. Dickey has been honored three times for District IX by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He has been named the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year in four of his first five years.

In his five-year stint at Raiderland, Dickey has coached a plethora of Red Raider players to post-season honors. In addition to Sasser being named third-team All-America, there have been:

  • Nine All-Newcomer team choices
  • Eight All-District performers
  • Seven consensus first-team AII-SWC honorees
  • Six Post-Season Classic All-Tournament choices
  • Six players named to All-Defensive Team honors
  • Three SWC Player of the Year selections, including Will Flemons twice
  • Two NBA draft picks
  • One consensus league Freshman of the Year
  • One SWC Post-Season Classic Most Valuable Player

His teams have also been tough in regular season tournament play. In his four seasons at the controls, the Red Raiders have entered seven "in-season" tournaments. They have compiled a mark of 10-4 in those contests and have brought home three tourney titles.

Personal Data

Born: April 2, 1954, in Harrison, Arkansas
High School: Valley Springs High School
College Career: Four-year letterman, three-year starter, Central Arkansas, 1972-76
College Degree: Bachelor’s from Central Arkansas, 1976; Master’s from Harding College, 1977

Coaching Career: Assistant Coach, Harding College, 1976-77; Head Coach, Harding Academy (High School), 1977-79; Assistant Coach, Central Arkansas, 1979-81; Assistant Coach, Arkansas, 1981-1989; Assistant Coach, Texas Tech, 1990-91; Head Coach, Texas Tech, 1991-present.

Team Achievements: NCAA Tournament, 1993, 1996; Sweet 16, 1996; NIT, 1995; Southwest Conference Champions, 1995, 1996; Dr Pepper SWC Post-Season Classic Champions 1993, 1996.

Outstanding Coaching Achievements: NABC District IX Coach of the Year, 1992, 1995, 1996; Southwest Conference Coach of the Year, 1992, 1993, 1996; Associated Press Southwest Conference Coach of the Year, 1992, 1995, 1996; Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year, 1992,1993,1995, 1996.

Family: Wife: Bettye (Fiscus); Daughter: Lauren Brooks (8); Son: Jared Allen (Six Months).

Dickey’s College Career Head Coaching Record

1991-92 Texas Tech ........................................ 15-14
1992-93 Texas Tech ........................................ 18-12
1993-94 Texas Tech ........................................ 17-11
1994-95 Texas Tech ........................................ 20-10
1995-96 Texas Tech ........................................ 30-2

Career Record: 100-49/.671 (Five Seasons)
Record at Texas Tech: 100-49/.671 (Five Seasons)
NCAA Tournament Record: 2-2/.500 (Two seasons)

His love of the game and his intense approach to not only coaching, but recruiting as well, leaves little doubt as to where the Tech program is headed. As an example of the recruiting classes he and his staff‘ have put together, one only needs to look at the SWC’s "All-Newcomer" list during the Dickey era. The Red Raiders landed nine players on the elite team in five years, including last year’s choice Stan Bonewitz.

The hard-working Dickey learned the business of coaching from some of the top mentors in the country, but probably his greatest teacher was his dad, J.B., who at an early age convinced his son that the game was where he needed to place his interest. J.B. was a high school coach for 10 seasons in the Dickeys hometown of Valley Springs, Ark., and not only is James a head coach on the Division I level, but his brother Randall is on the staff at Oklahoma State under Eddie Sutton.

James Dickey took his father’s tutelage to heart and basketball became somewhat second-nature to him. He was a sharp shooting guard for Valley Springs High School, starting three years and earning all-star recognition after his senior year. After participating in the Arkansas High School all-star game he went on to Central Arkansas where he lettered four years and started three. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the Conway, Ark., school in 1976.

He first got into coaching when he joined the staff‘ at Harding College in Searcy, Ark., for the 1976-77 season. He earned his master’s degree during that stint with the Bison program.

From there, Dickey accepted his first head coaching job, taking the reins at the local high school, Harding Academy. He compiled an impressive two-year record of 43-36 and led the team to the conference title in 1978. He earned coach of the year honors in ‘78, his last season on the high school level.

His first step into the collegiate ranks was a return engagement to his alma mater at Central Arkansas. He was an assistant in the Bears’ program for two seasons, helping the school to an overall record of 33-29.

Following the ‘81 season at Central, Dickey accepted an offer from Eddie Sutton to join the Arkansas Razorbacks staff‘. Dickey worked at Arkansas for four seasons and helped lead the Razorbacks to a cumulative mark of 96-30 in that time. The Hogs put together four straight NCAA appearances and won the 1982 SWC regular season and post-season titles.

Sutton accepted the head coaching job at Kentucky after the 1984-85 campaign, and Dickey also made the move to basketball-crazed Lexington. The duo helped lead the Wildcats to an overall record of 90-40 in the next four seasons. Kentucky went to the NCAA Tournament three times during that span.

Dickey took a one-year sabbatical from coaching in 1989- 90, engaging in family business. He returned to the profession a year later when former Texas Tech head coach Gerald Myers asked him to join the Red Raider staff for the 1990-91 campaign. Dickey officially joined the staff in July, 1990 and has been recruiting talented players to the South Plains campus since that time.

He got his first collegiate head coaching opportunity when the legendary Myers retired from coaching after the ‘90-91 campaign. Dickey was named Tech’s 11th head coach on April 10, 1991.

Away from the players and coaching staff‘, Dickey does not have to look far to talk hoops. His wife—the former Bettye Fiscus of Wynne, Ark., -- was a standout performer for the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks. The two met when James was coaching Arkansas.

In 1994, she was inducted into the Arkansas Athletic Hall of Honor, becoming the first female athlete so honored. She is the Arkansas women’s career scoring leader, having tallied 2,073 points.

"It was an honor that she really deserved," says Dickey of his wife’s achievement. "I’m extremely proud of her and it’s nice to see her rewarded for all the hard work she put in as a player to get to the level she was able to."

The Dickeys’ have a eight-year old daughter, Lauren Brooks, who is in third grade. The newest member of the Dickey squad is Jared Allen, who was born last February.

Dickey is an avid fan of rodeo and enjoys quarter horses and roping in his free time. He and Lubbock Christian University head basketball coach John Copeland can be found at roping events all over West Texas and Eastern New Mexico during the off-season.

© 1998/1999 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Some material
© 1998/1999 The Associated Press
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