DePaul Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Terence Greene
Jan. 11, 2013
(Second in a series of feature stories portraying the Class of 2013 inductees to the DePaul Athletic Hall of Fame)
CHICAGO – One of the most painful memories of Terence Greene’s stellar basketball career at DePaul actually had an inspirational ending.
It was bad enough that Greene and the Blue Demons lost to Georgetown 74-64 in December of 1988 in Washington, D.C. For Greene, the sting of defeat was magnified by the pain from an impacted tooth that had taken him out of the starting lineup.
Georgetown coach John Thompson, who had intensely recruited the high school All-American out of Flint (Mich.) Central, made sure to say a few encouraging words to Greene walking off the court.
That was just a prelude to what Thompson told the assembled postgame media.
"There are some players you recruit that you see years later and don't feel bad about losing," Thompson said. "But when I see Terence Greene, it makes me all the more disturbed we didn't get him. He has more courage in his little finger than 80 percent of the players in the country."
After helping lead the Blue Demons to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances---including a pair of Sweet 16 berths---Greene is being inducted as part of the Class of 2013 into the DePaul Athletic Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony and banquet begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20th at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Greene and teammates such as fellow 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Stanley Brundy and past inductees Rod Strickland, Dallas Comegys, Kevin Edwards, Stephen Howard and David Booth took DePaul on an exhilarating four-year ride.
And despite some of the best times of his life, Greene does have one regret---not winning the NCAA title in the 1986-87 season.
“Hey, we had four pros on that team---Rod Strickland, Dallas Comegys, Kevin Edwards and Stanley Brundy---and we were a bunch of junkyard dogs on defense,” Greene said. “Our defense created our offense and we had great chemistry on that team.
“Coach Joey Meyer always had me guard the opponent's best offensive player. We stopped Hersey Hawkins with me defending him and Dallas back in the block along with help from the other guards.
“We started off winning our first 16 games and finished 28-3. That’s the most wins by any team in DePaul history. It still bothers me to this day, that NCAA tournament loss (63-58) to LSU in the Sweet 16.”
Points flowed as freely as the good times in Greene’s era. DePaul scored 2,568 points in Greene’s senior season, the second-highest mark in program history. A year earlier, the Blue Demons put up the fifth-highest season total (2,366).
Before the advent of cable television, DePaul and legendary star Mark Aguirre had become the darlings of the country in the late 1970s thanks to superstation WGN-TV televising Blue Demon games all over the nation.
It was quite the compelling story with the curmudgeonly grandfather Ray Meyer coaching the school by the El tracks in the heart of the city.
For those who missed out the first time, Greene & Co. produced the sequel.
“Kids today have no idea what DePaul was like and how it could be like that again,” Greene said. “In our time, the city was all about Michael Jordan, Walter Payton and the DePaul Blue Demons. We set a school record with 28 wins my sophomore year and were treated like a pro team. Everywhere we went, the entrance was roped off and security guards followed us in. After we beat St. John’s in the NCAA tournament, we all hung out at a restaurant afterwards.
“It was a frenzy everywhere we went. People recognized us and asked for autographs. They congratulated us and told us how much they enjoyed watching DePaul games.
“I remember a time Rod and I were at a restaurant in Westwood before a UCLA game. People recognized us way out in southern California. When we went to Utah and other places, we’d have a police escort out in front with a motorcade following behind our bus. I have to thank sportscasters Jim Rose (WLS-TV) and Dan Roan for all their coverage. WGN-TV made us famous.”
Greene remembers some of the famous people who became Blue Demon fans.
“Cheers was the top-rated TV show back then and actor George Wendt would sit behind our bench and talk with us,” Greene said. “Tommy Lasorda and Coach Ray (Meyer) were great friends, and LaSorda would come to see us play.
“We ate at the best restaurants, and celebrities who knew Coach Ray would come out and dine with us. Mike Tyson became a big fan of ours and would hang out with us after games. NBA guys would know who you were, and they respected you as a player. There were a lot of different avenues and opportunities for us.”
Greene made an immediate impact on the program with his 14 assists against Northern Iowa as a freshman. That is the third-highest, single-game mark in school history. The co-captain of the 1988-89 team along with Brundy is second all-time in appearances, fourth in assists and minutes played, seventh in free throw attempts and tied for 11th in three-point percentage.
“I still tease the guys to this day about that Northern Iowa game,” Greene said. “I talk to Kevin Holmes all the time. I was supposed to have 22 assists, but Kevin and the guys missed some layups.
“We had thoroughbreds like Kevin, Rod Strickland, Dallas Comegys, Tony Jackson, Marty Embry and Stanley Brundy running the court, and I was feeding them like babies. That made it easy because I like to pass the ball.”
Greene is former All-American in football and basketball at Flint. NCAA defending champion Georgetown, Michigan, Michigan State and UCLA came after him for basketball while Oklahoma, UCLA, Michigan and Michigan State recruited him hard for football.
At DePaul, the 1985-86 team went 18-13 and knocked off Virginia 72-68 in the NCAA opening round of the East Regional at Greensboro, N.C. Two days later the Blue Demons got the best of Oklahoma 74-69 in advancing to the Sweet 16. That’s where the season ended with a 74-67 loss to Duke.
A little home cooking got DePaul off to a fast start in the 1987 NCAA tournament. Playing on their home court the Rosemont Horizon, the Blue Demons topped Louisiana Tech 76-62 in the opening round of the NCAA Midwest Regional. That was followed by a thrilling 83-75 overtime victory against St. John’s in round two. In their second consecutive Sweet 16 appearance, Brundy, Greene & Co. wound up on the short end of a 63-58 decision against LSU.
As juniors, Brundy and Greene led DePaul into the NCAA Midwest Regional where the Blue Demons opened with an 83-62 victory over Wichita State. Two days later, the season ended at the Joyce Center in Notre Dame with a 66-58 loss to Kansas State.
Their final season together found the DePaul duo in Boise, Idaho for the NCAA West Regional after the team went 20-11 during the regular season. The Blue Demons edged Memphis State 66-63 at the BSU Pavilion but lost to UNLV 85-70 in the second round. Brundy and Greene combined to average more than 34 points a game that season.
“When I first got word about being inducted, I thought about my mother and father who are both deceased,” Greene said. “I remember being up in limbo about my college choice. Being an All-American in football and basketball, a lot of the major powers came at me hard. I had committed to DePaul, and my dad was proud that I stuck by my word.
“Football may have been my best sport, and people tell me I probably left millions of dollars on the table by going with basketball. But I loved basketball so much and enjoyed going against guys like Reggie Miller at UCLA and David Rivers at Notre Dame. My love for basketball and my decision not to play football in college led me to DePaul.
“Maybe I would’ve made more money playing football, but my love for DePaul and the experience I had playing there outweighs all of that. Nothing compares to the relationship I formed with DePaul, with coach Joey Meyer. Jeanne (Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto) was like a big sister to me. She promised my parents I would get a degree. She always made sure I was on time for class. It was Jeanne who taught me that loyalty is not just a word---it’s a lifestyle.”
Greene did get a taste of pro football when a conversation between Bobby Knight and Bill Parcells helped lead to an invitation to New York Giants training camp. Greene spent two seasons on the practice squad and relishes going through drills and scrimmages with Lawrence Taylor, Pepper Johnson and Carl Banks, who is also from Flint, Mich.
Greene was an assistant basketball coach at Mott Community College in his hometown and also an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan. He was an assistant coach at Michigan for two years under Brian Ellerbe, now an assistant coach at DePaul.
“I’ve got my own company called the T To Greene Group that reaches out to high school and college basketball players and shows them how to capitalize on a college education,” Greene said. “When things are going good, kids figure they don’t have to network or worry about their future. You let them know how the odds are stacked against making the NBA.
“When I was being recruited by Georgetown, I was in coach Thompson’s office and he threw me a totally deflated basketball. He said to go ahead and dribble with it. I looked at him kind of confused and he said: ‘What are you going to do when you don’t have basketball?’”
What Greene will always have is the Blue Demon family he is coming home to on Hall of Fame weekend.
NEXT: 1978 Volleyball Team