Sutton's wisdom, dedication impress players

Saturday, January 15th 2005, 6:49 pm

By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Ivan McFarlin searched and searched for the right words to describe a coach who'd won 768 games in a career that spanned four decades.

Patient. Flexible. Dedicated. They all work, but there was so much more that words failed to say about Eddie Sutton _ the man whose smiling face was emblazoned next to a bright orange 768 on his T-shirt.

``There's so many things you can't describe,'' McFarlin said.

With an 83-73 win against Iowa State on Saturday, Sutton passed his mentor, Henry Iba, to move into seventh place on the career coaching wins list. After the game, Oklahoma State officials announced that the floor at Gallagher-Iba Arena would be named Eddie Sutton Court.

Joey Graham, who scored 20 points in the win, said it was time to honor Sutton.

``It's a great feeling,'' Graham said. ``Eddie Sutton is a great coach. I'm glad that they named it after him, as a matter of fact. He's got all these wins, so they should name something after him around here.''

Sutton, who was given a plaque to commemorate the occasion, thanked his wife, Patsy, his assistant coaches and players and took little credit for all the wins he amassed at Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State.

``He's a humble person,'' McFarlin said.

Sutton started coaching at the collegiate level at Creighton in 1970. He was 82-50 at Creighton, 260-75 at Arkansas, 88-39 at Kentucky and has a 338-129 record so far at Oklahoma State.

``This is a great moment for him, and it's not over,'' McFarlin said. ``He's got a lot more wins to get.''

McFarlin, who came to Oklahoma State as a partial qualifier, said Sutton helped push him to graduate in 3 1/2 years to gain an extra year of eligibility. And he said there are many more ways he's benefited on the floor.

``There's so many things that he's done for me,'' McFarlin said. ``I just think that there's a lot more that he can give. He's given a lot. I just kind of keep my ear open to get all of it.''

McFarlin compared Sutton to a wise professor he can keep going back to when he wants to learn more.

Many times, McFarlin said, Sutton's wisdom doesn't show up until during the game when he'll realize: ``He just taught me that.''

``It's like he has so many things in a jar that he just brings out,'' McFarlin said. ``He's amazing. He keeps so much information.''

After the game, Sutton looked more like the smiling man on McFarlin's T-shirt than the one who's better known for his angry scowl.

But McFarlin said even that ``mean look'' is a defining part of the legendary coach.

``To me, that's a sign of his hungriness,'' McFarlin said. ``He's a hungry person. He wants the best out of everybody.''

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