BY JEREMY HOECK
Dave Boots isn’t the kind of guy to sit back and gloat about his illustrious career, nor will he openly make an effort to point out his accomplishments.
That’s just the kind of guy he is.
The head men’s basketball coach at USD would rather credit his players, their hard work and efforts, and instead focus on his next game — one of his most famous lines is “the most important game is your next game.”
But make no mistake, 600 career wins is a huge feat.
Boots, in his 31st year of coaching college hoops, reached the elite class Monday night when his Coyotes held off NAIA Tabor 69-63 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
The sluggish contest didn’t really allow much of a celebration for the veteran coach, but he did offer some inside thoughts in his post-game press conference.
“This is exactly where I’ve always wanted to be,” said Boots, who is now 600-263 in his career. “It’s a great place to coach. I appreciate everything everyone’s done for us.”
The 56-year-old Boots was hired by USD in April 1988 after a stint at his alma mater, Augsburg (Minn.).
Since taking over the Coyote program, he has posted a 485-200 record in 24 seasons, has recorded sixteen 20-win seasons, won six conference titles and has never had a losing season.
“We’ve had a lot of really, really good players,” he said Monday. “If you keep doing it as long as we’ve done it here, you better have a lot of good ones. They’re the ones who let you win the games. They get out and perform. We’ve been blessed with that.”
Yet, for all the talented players and assistants in his tenure, it’s been the influence of Boots that has made USD successful.
He is now the 64th coach men’s basketball history to reach 600 career wins, and is only the 14th still active with that many victories — a list that includes Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Jim Calhoun (Connecticut) and Roy Williams (North Carolina).
The athletes currently playing for Boots recognize the magnitude of Monday’s win.
“It’s special for me. He gave me an opportunity to play here, so I’m glad I could help him get there,” senior Charlie Westbrook said. “I love playing for him. I’m excited for him, just glad we came out with a win.”