Archdeacon: Miami coach sends off team before heart surgery
By Tom Archdeacon, Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Miami University basketball coach Charlie Coles underwent a surgical procedure on his heart Tuesday evening, March 11, at Mercy Hospital Fairfield.
"I've heard from people there that everything went as expected," said Miami Athletics Director Brad Bates.
The night before the surgery, the RedHawks basketball team — which will be coached by long-time Miami assistant Jermaine Henderson when it meets Buffalo tonight in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament in Cleveland — visited Coles at the hospital.
"Charlie got a little choked up when he saw us, but I think it was good for him and for us, too," Henderson said by phone from Cleveland. "It was great to see him. He means so much to every one of us. He's just beloved by everybody who comes in contact with him."
The 66-year-old Coles — who took a medical leave of absence earlier this month — missed the final three regular-season games and was not scheduled to be on the bench for the MAC tournament, either.
Coles hadn't been feeling well the past month. Stomach pains prompted a battery of tests as a precaution. As for Tuesday's surgery, neither the hospital, the university nor Coles' family has released details of the extent of the procedure.
During his 17 seasons as a MAC head coach, he has suffered two heart attacks. The first was in 1985 when he was at Central Michigan.
The other came in 1998 when he was coaching Miami in the MAC tournament quarterfinals at Western Michigan. That time he was revived on the court. Although he remained in the hospital after that, his team battled its way into the MAC title game before losing.
With a defibrillator installed, he was back with the team the following year and guided the RedHawks to a 24-8 record and Sweet Sixteen berth in the NCAA tournament.
His past three teams have all earned postseason bids, as well. Last year's team won the MAC tournament on Doug Penno's buzzer-beating 3-pointer and then lost to Oregon by two points in its NCAA tournament opener.
"I've felt just a multitude of emotions through all this," said Henderson, who played for Coles and has been on staff for 11 seasons, the past three as Miami's associate head coach.
"I know this is what Charlie's been building me up for, but I'm not Charlie. The kids, they seem to accept my voice and that has made it a little easier. This bunch has responded just as well as those players did back in 1998."
Bates said he was especially proud of the team for visiting Coles before it headed to Cleveland: "It's a class bunch, but then Charlie brings that out of people."
Henderson said once the emotions calmed the other night, Coles was his old self:
"He told our guys, 'Look, I don't want to stand in the way of what you're doing.' ... Typical Charlie. He told them just to go up there, take it one possession at a time and knock off Buffalo.
"And right now we figure that's the best thing we can do for him. The guys want to play the way he expects them to play and make him proud of all of us.
"That's the best medicine we can give him."