Paul Patterson, under whom the Ashland basketball team won four consecutive 16th regional tournament championships in the 1970s, died Monday at age 78 from prolonged illness.
Patterson then went to Taylor University, Indiana, which scored 734 victories in his place before his retirement in 2013.
These are amazing numbers, but Patterson’s impact on the 16th region has also been huge. He was 44-0 against regional competition, a mark that may never be duplicated. Patterson’s trademark man-to-man defense became the model for others and quickly became the calling card of this region. It’s no exaggeration to say that he changed the way basketball was played here.
The Tomcats’ best season under Patterson was in 1976-77, when Ashland posted a 30-2 record that ended in a state semi-final loss. Jeff Kovach, Jim Harkins and Mark Swift were key players in a team that simply made opponents appear helpless.
His disciplined teams were feared for the tenacity he instilled in them.
Patterson left after the 1979 season even though the roster was loaded with size and talent, a team that seemed perfectly suited to his style of play. Ernie Simpson took over from Patterson and won the regional championship for a fifth year. back-to-back, although the regional winning streak ended with a loss to Holy Family in the final of the 64th District Tournament.
As unimaginable as it might sound today, the fanbase weren’t always happy with Patterson, even though he won four regional championships in a row and never lost to a regional foe in the regular season. The style of play was deemed too methodical for fans accustomed to three decades of running and shooting.
There was none of that with Patterson’s basketball style. His teams worked for the highest possible shooting percentage, mostly a layup or a short jumper, on every crushing possession. The recipe for success was to limit opponents to less than 50 points per game. That’s exactly what his 1976-77 team did, limiting opponents to 48.3 per game.
In the four years Patterson coached the Tomcats to the regional title, Ashland only played the tournament MVP title once – Harkins in 1976. The other years the MVPs went to David Rowe of Fairview ( 1977), Mark Dingess of Boyd County (1978) and Dave Layne of Holy Family (1979).
Patterson went 91-35 in his four seasons as coach of the Tomcats. His teams were always prepared and fundamentally strong in every position. Their man-to-man defense of lockdown was, in a nutshell, vicious.
He adopted this same coaching philosophy at Taylor University, where he retired after becoming the second-most successful coach in Indiana college history behind Bobby Knight.
Patterson’s Trojans have won 15 conference championships and made 14 appearances in the NAIA National Tournament. He was 12-time conference coach of the year and NAIA national coach of the year in 1991, when he led Taylor to an academic record of 34 wins and only place in the Final Four program.
Patterson, who is a member of the NAIA Halls of Fame, Hanover College and Grant County, Indiana, coached Taylor to 28 winning seasons and 23 campaigns with 20 or more wins. He also guided the Trojans through one of the most successful 10-year streaks with 10 consecutive seasons of at least 25 wins from 1984 to 1994. This period put Taylor in the company of UCLA, UNLV and Lipscomb as the only ones. male programs to accomplish this. feat.
Along the way, Patterson has coached 24 NAIA All-Americans and has an extensive coaching tree that includes Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann and Akron coach John Groce.
It was also during Patterson’s tenure that Taylor started playing Silent Night.
Every year on the Friday before final exams, Taylor University hosts the Silent Night game where students remain silent until the 10th point is scored, then erupt into wild, loud cheers. In the final moments of the game, “Silent Night” is sung by everyone in the gym. A former assistant coach came up with the idea in the late 1980s and it was a crowded event from the mid to late 1990s.