Guy Lewis
Lewis, c. 1972
Biographical details
Born(1922-03-19)March 19, 1922
Arp, Texas, U.S.
DiedNovember 26, 2015(2015-11-26) (aged 93)
Kyle, Texas, U.S.
Playing career
Position(s)Center, forward
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1953–1956Houston (assistant)
Head coaching record
Overall592–279 (.680)
Tournaments26–18 (NCAA Division I)
3–3 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
5 NCAA Regional—Final Four (1967, 1968, 19821984)
2 SWC regular season (1983, 1984)
4 SWC tournament (1978, 1981, 1983, 1984)
AP College Coach of the Year (1968, 1983)
Henry Iba Award (1968)
NABC Coach of the Year (1968)
Sporting News Coach of the Year Award (1968)
UPI Coach of the Year (1968)
2x SWC Coach of the Year (1983, 1984)
Texas Sports Hall of Fame (1994)
Houston Sports Hall of Fame (2021)
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2013 (profile)
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2007

Guy Vernon Lewis II (March 19, 1922 – November 26, 2015) was an American basketball player and coach. He served as the head men's basketball coach at the University of Houston from 1956 to 1986. Lewis led his Houston Cougars to five appearances in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament, in 1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, and 1984. His 1980s teams, nicknamed Phi Slama Jama for their slam dunks, were runners-up for the national championship in back-to-back seasons in 1983 and 1984. He was inducted into National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Coaching career

Born in Arp, Texas, Lewis was on the basketball and football teams of Arp High School.[1] After serving in World War II, Lewis enrolled at the University of Houston on the GI Bill. He played center and forward on Houston's first varsity basketball team, graduating in 1947. In 1953, he returned to UH as an assistant coach, succeeding Alden Pasche as head coach in 1956. As a coach, he was known for championing the once-outlawed dunk, which he characterized as a "high percentage shot," and for clutching a brightly colored red-and-white polka dot towel on the bench during games. Lewis was a major force in the racial integration of college athletics in the South during the 1960s, being one of the first major college coaches in the region to actively recruit African American athletes. In 1964, his recruitment of the program's first African-American players, Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney, ushered in an era of tremendous success in Cougar basketball.[2] The dominant play of Hayes led the Cougars to two Final Fours during the 1960s and sent shock waves through Southern colleges that realized that they would have to begin recruiting black players if they wanted to compete with integrated teams.

Lewis led the Houston Cougars program to 27 straight winning seasons, 14 seasons with 20 or more wins, and 14 trips to the NCAA tournament. His Houston teams advanced to the Final Four on five occasions (1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, 1984) and twice advanced to the national championship game (1983, 1984). Standout players Lewis coached during his tenure at Houston included Hayes, Chaney, Akeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Otis Birdsong, Dwight Jones, Louis Dunbar, and Ken Spain.

Lewis's Houston teams played a key role in two watershed events that helped to popularize college basketball as a spectator sport. In January 1968, his underdog Cougars, led by Hayes, upset John Wooden's undefeated and top-ranked UCLA Bruins 71–69 in front of 52,693 fans at the Houston Astrodome. This was the first nationally televised regular season college basketball game and subsequently became known as the "Game of the Century." It marked a turning point in the emerging popularity of college basketball. In the early 1980s, Lewis's Phi Slama Jama teams at UH gained notoriety for their fast-breaking, "above the rim" style of play as well as their overall success. At the height of Phi Slama Jama's notoriety, they advanced all the way to the national championship game in 1983 and 1984, along the way notching consecutive 30-win seasons. In the first of those appearances, in 1983, the Cougars suffered a dramatic, last-second loss to underdog North Carolina State in the 1983 NCAA Final that became an iconic moment in the history of the sport, one that solidified the NCAA basketball tournament in the cultural firmament as March Madness. Lewis's insistence that his teams play an acrobatic, up-tempo brand of basketball that emphasized dunking brought this style of play to the fore and helped popularize it amongst younger players.

The Cougars also lost in the 1984 NCAA Final to the Georgetown Hoyas led by Patrick Ewing. Lewis retired from coaching in 1986 at number 20 in all-time NCAA Division I victories, his 592–279 record giving him a .680 career winning percentage. In 1995, the University of Houston named the playing surface at Hofheinz Pavillion (now the Fertitta Center) "Guy V. Lewis Court" in Lewis' honor.[3]

Later life and honors

Lewis was hospitalized for a stroke on February 27, 2002.[4] He later recovered, but experienced some lasting effects from the episode.[5] From 1959 until his death, Lewis resided in the University Oaks subdivision adjacent to the University of Houston.[6] Lewis was the honoree at the 2012 Houston Aphasia Recovery Center luncheon benefit.[7]

Lewis died on the morning of November 26, 2015 at a retirement facility in Kyle, Texas, at the age of 93.[8]

Head coaching record

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Houston Cougars (Missouri Valley Conference) (1956–1960)
1956–57 Houston 10–16 5–9 T–5th
1957–58 Houston 9–16 4–10 T–6th
1958–59 Houston 12–14 6–8 5th
1959–60 Houston 13–12 6–8 T–4th
Houston Cougars (NCAA University Division / Division I Independent) (1960–1975)
1960–61 Houston 17–11 NCAA University Division Sweet 16
1961–62 Houston 21–6 NIT Quarterfinal
1962–63 Houston 15–11
1963–64 Houston 16–10
1964–65 Houston 19–10 NCAA University Division Sweet 16
1965–66 Houston 23–6 NCAA University Division Sweet 16
1966–67 Houston 27–4 NCAA University Division Third Place
1967–68 Houston 31–2 NCAA University Division Fourth Place
1968–69 Houston 16–10
1969–70 Houston 25–5 NCAA University Division Sweet 16
1970–71 Houston 22–7 NCAA University Division Sweet 16
1971–72 Houston 20–7 NCAA University Division First Round
1972–73 Houston 23–4 NCAA University Division First Round
1973–74 Houston 17–9
1974–75 Houston 16–10
Houston Cougars (Southwest Conference) (1975–1986)
1975–76 Houston 17–11 7–9 6th
1976–77 Houston 29–8 13–3 2nd NIT Runner-up
1977–78 Houston 25–8 11–5 3rd NCAA Division I First Round
1978–79 Houston 16–15 6–10 T–5th
1979–80 Houston 14–14 8–8 T–4th
1980–81 Houston 21–9 10–6 T–2nd NCAA Division I First Round
1981–82 Houston 25–8 11–5 2nd NCAA Division I Final Four
1982–83 Houston 31–3 16–0 1st NCAA Division I Runner-up
1983–84 Houston 32–5 15–1 1st NCAA Division I Runner-up
1984–85 Houston 16–14 8–8 T–5th NIT First Round
1985–86 Houston 14–14 8–8 6th
Houston: 592–279 (.680) 134–98 (.578)
Total: 592–279 (.680)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See also


  1. ^ Ashley Southall, "Storied basketball coach helped integrate game", Honolulu Star-Advertiser (via the New York Times; November 27, 2015), p. B4.
  2. ^ Southall, Ashley (November 26, 2015). "Guy Lewis, Coach of Houston's Phi Slama Jama Teams, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 28, 2015.
  3. ^ "History & Tradition" (PDF). 2008-09 Media Guide. Houston Cougars athletics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-12. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
  4. ^ COLLEGES: MEN'S BASKETBALL ROUNDUP. New York Times. February 27, 2002. GUY LEWIS HOSPITALIZED: Guy Lewis, the former University of Houston coach who took his team to 14 N.C.A.A. tournaments and 5 trips to the Final Four, was hospitalized yesterday for treatment of an apparent stroke. Lewis, who will turn 80 next month, was taken to Houston's Methodist Hospital about 2 a.m. The university said in a statement that Lewis was under observation but was alert and speaking and would be undergoing tests to determine the severity of what doctors believed was a stroke.
  5. ^ JOHN MARSHALL: Abdul-Jabbar Honored by College Hall Archived 2007-06-09 at Associated Press. November 18, 2007. Notes: (Guy) Lewis, who was too ill to attend the ceremonies, led Houston to five Final Four appearances and 27 consecutive winning seasons, including the 1983 "Phi Slamma Jamma" team that came within seconds of a national title. (Lewis had suffered a stroke and gave a videotaped acceptance speech.)
  6. ^ Stancill, Nancy (1987-08-26). "Lewis runs afoul of UH garbage masher". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
  7. ^ "HARC 2012 Luncheon Benefit".
  8. ^ "Guy Lewis, coach of 'Phi Slama Jama' Houston Cougars, dies at 93". ESPN 26 November 2015. Retrieved November 26, 2015.