Pat Knight named Newsmaker of the Year
The Press Club of Southeast Texas honored Lamar University Basketball Coach Part Knight as the 2011 Newsmaker of the Year on Friday, June 8 at its 21st Annual Awards Banquet.
Year one of the Pat Knight era proved to be all Lamar University supporters could have hoped for as the Cardinals reached heights they had not seen in years.
Knight guided the Cardinals to their sixth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since the 1999-2000 season. To get there, Lamar capped its run through the Southland Conference Tournament with a convincing 70-49 win in the title game over rival McNeese State.
Knight, who became the third Lamar coach to take the team to the NCAA Tournament in his first season, also led the Cardinals to their first 20-win season since 1987-88. Lamar’s 23 wins ties for the third highest single season total in school history.
Thanks to the outstanding season, Lamar had three players recognized as All-Southland Conference. Mike James was a first-team all-conference selection, while Devon Lamb and Anthony Miles were both named to the second-team. Brandon Davis was also honored by the league as he was named to the all-academic first-team.
While success came quickly, Knight is looking long term to rebuilding the Lamar basketball program into a consistent winner.
"It's an honor and a dream come true to be the head coach at Lamar University," Knight said at his initial press conference on April 5, 2011. "It's an opportunity to build my own program and hopefully establish my own legacy in college basketball."
Knight came to Lamar after 10 seasons at Texas Tech, including the final three-plus years as head coach. Named head coach designate at Tech prior to the 2005-06 season, Knight took over for his Hall-of-Fame father Bob Knight toward the end of the 2007-08 season.
In three-plus seasons as head coach of the Red Raiders, Knight compiled a 50-61 record. His 2009-10 squad posted a 19-16 overall record and advanced to the quarterfinals of the postseason National Invitation Tournament before falling at Mississippi in double overtime.
Knight, who is the 10th person to coach Lamar since the university became a four-year institution in 1951, guided the Red Raiders to an 83-80 win over fifth-ranked Texas in just his eighth game as a head coach, while his first victory on the college level came against No. 18 Kansas State five games earlier. The Red Raiders were a solid 40-20 (.667) at United Spirit Arena under Knight.
Knight served for nearly seven years as an assistant at Tech under his father that included four trips to the NCAA Tournament and a run to the Sweet 16 in 2005. Texas Tech enjoyed five 20-win seasons during Knight's tenure as an assistant.
Knight's professional career began as a scout and administrative assistant with the NBA's Phoenix Suns after his four-year playing career at Indiana. In 1997, Knight became an assistant coach with the Connecticut Pride of the Continental Basketball Association.
In 1998, Knight became a head coach for the first time, guiding the Wisconsin Blast of the International Basketball Association to a 19-15 record.
Knight began his college coaching career at his alma mater as an assistant for two seasons from 1998-2000. The Hoosiers were 43-20 during that time and played in the NCAA Tournament both years. In his second season at Indiana, senior guard A.J. Guyton earned AP First-Team All-America honors before becoming a second-round draft choice of the Chicago Bulls.
Knight then spent one season as an assistant at Akron before moving to Texas Tech.
A four-year letterwinner for the Hoosiers from 1991-95, Knight graduated in 1995 with a degree in sports management. During his playing days, Indiana appeared in the NCAA Tournament every season and advanced to the "Elite Eight" in 1993.
Knight and the former Amanda Shaw were married on May 10, 2002.
Winners in the annual Excellence in the Media contest sponsored by the Press Club of Southeast Texas were also announced at the banquet. Judges across the country chose winning works from more than 650 entries submitted by news media, public relations, academia, public affairs, corporate communication and public information professionals from the nine-county region.
Proceeds from the contest and banquet support the Press Club Memorial Scholarship for communication students at Lamar University. After many years of awarding scholarships directly, the club established the endowment in the LU Foundation in 2002, and it has grown steadily to become the largest endowment supporting students in Lamar’s communication programs.