Moody atmosphere a sign of SMU's progress as a program under Larry Brown

A feature story on SMU Men's Basketball Coach Larry Brown, Moody Coliseum, and the enthusiastic fans.

By Bill Nichols
Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK -- The team bus arrived late, so Larry Brown was in a hurry before his first game at Moody Coliseum.

Point guard for the New Orleans Buccaneers of the upstart ABA, Brown had played four games in four nights in four cities. So he quickly went in search of a pre-game meal before playing the Dallas Chaparrals.

"I hadn't eaten, so I ran upstairs to get a hot dog and I saw Doc Hayes," Brown said, referring to the coaching legend who had recently concluded a 20-year career with SMU that included six NCAA Tournaments. "Pretty neat."

Almost 50 years later, Brown, 75, is the legendary coach at SMU, rekindling the tradition that Hayes built in Moody Coliseum's formative years.

The old building ranks among the nation's most charming and disarming venues. It also stands as a testament to Brown's transformation of basketball on the Hilltop. His ability to turn SMU into a tough ticket may be his greatest legacy in years to come.

When Brown took over, the program hadn't been to the NCAA Tournament in 19 years and struggled to draw big crowds. But with three consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time in school history and students camping out for tickets, Moody has become a Dallas hotspot where Cowboys and former presidents rub elbows celebrating alley-oops.

Since Moody opened its doors after renovation in January 2014, the Mustangs boast a 40-4 record in their cozy 7,000-seat home.

An 82-77 loss to Tulsa on Wednesday was their first at home this season, snapping a 15-game winning streak. With a nationally relevant opponent, Gonzaga (20-5), and a 9 p.m. tip on Saturday, Moody Madness could push the volume knob to 11.

"I remember our first year here, you could literally count the people in the stands before they renovated Moody," senior Markus Kennedy said. "Now it's one of the best places in the country. I've played in a lot of arenas. We're definitely at the top of the list."

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