Legendary College of Charleston Head Coach John Kresse, who led the Cougars to a NAIA Championship title and four NCAA Tournament appearances, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Lapchick Character Award.
Kresse and Naismith Hall of Famer Clarence “Big House” Gaines, who won 828 games in 47 years at Winston-Salem State, are the seventh annual winners of the award which is named after the Naismith Hall of Fame coach and is presented by a group that includes Joe Lapchick biographer and former player, Gus Alfieri. The award recognizes those who have shown the character traits of Lapchick, who coached at St. John's (N.Y.) University and with the New York Knicks.
The award will be presented at a luncheon to be held on Nov. 20 with the recipients honored the night of the 2K Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“I am deeply honored to receive this award named for my college basketball coach, Joe Lapchick, who taught and inspired me,” Kresse said. “Coach Lapchick was a pioneer in basketball touring all over the country as a player for the Original Celtics. He coached both St. John's and the New York Knicks and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959. Being included with previous recipients of this award like Dean Smith, Pat Summitt, Lou Carnesecca and John Thompson, makes it extra special.”
The 71-year-old Kresse played for Lapchick at St. John's from 1962-64. He was an assistant coach at his alma mater to Naismith Hall of Famer Lou Carnesecca and also worked with him with the New York Nets of the ABA. He went on to compile a 560-143 record in 23 seasons at CofC. The Cougars won the NAIA national championship title in 1983 and made four NCAA tournament appearances after the school moved to NCAA Division I status in 1989.
In 2005, Kresse was inducted into the NAIA Athletic Hall of Fame and John Kresse Court at TD Arena is named in honor of him.
Previous winners of the Lapchick Award, which was first presented in 2008, include Naismith Hall of Famers Carnesecca, Dean Smith, Pat Summitt, John Thompson, Bob Hurley, Sr., Pete Carril, Jody Conradt, Cathy Rush, Morgan Wootten, Pete Newell, C.M. Newton, Don Haskins and Kay Yow.