Larry Finch, star of '73 team, proud of current Tigers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Larry Finch, star of '73 team, proud of current Tigers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Larry Finch, the man who scored 29 points in the Memphis Tigers' 1973 national championship loss to UCLA, now cheers on his alma mater from a nursing home.

"He's not doing well. He's really had to struggle," his attorney, Ted Hansom said.

The 57-year-old Finch suffered a heart attack and a series of strokes that have confined him to a wheelchair. Hansom said Finch has been watching these Tigers play their way into the school's third Final Four.

"He still has a great appreciation for great play," Hansom said. "He's proud of those kids."

Finch, a Memphis kid who chose to stay home and play for the Tigers, led the team to a 63-21 record during his three seasons and scored 1,869 points in his career.

The highlight of his Tigers' career came in the 1973 NCAA tournament, averaging 26.8 points in helping the Tigers to the championship game. He even helped Bill Walton, who scored 44 points, off the floor after he sprained an ankle in the title game.

"You can't say enough about what Larry did," Hansom said.

Finch was drafted by the NBA's Lakers but chose to play for the Tams so he could stay in Memphis. He left briefly only to work with his college coach, Gene Bartow, at UAB but returned to Memphis as first assistant on the 1985 Final Four team. In 1986, he took over as head coach with the Tigers on NCAA probation.

He took them to six NCAA tournaments and got to the 1992 regional final and a regional semifinal in 1995. But he was forced to resign in 1997 after a 16-15 season.

The Tigers went through two coaches and had only one winning season before John Calipari was hired in March 2000.

Still, Finch remains the Tigers' winningest coach with a record of 220-130. For now. Calipari can match Finch's wins at Memphis with two more victories.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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