Remembering Red
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Remembering Red

Remembering Red

Joseph Leichman

ed Saracheck used to yell at his players so much that only the bad ones were spared. The coach of Yeshiva University’s basketball team from 1940 to 1969, Sarachek, who also coached in the American Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association, passed away two weeks ago at the age of 93. But his passing doesn’t mean that any of his players have forgotten his passion or enthusiasm.

"Red always yelled, Red never spoke," said YU basketball coach Jonathan Halpert, who has coached Sarachek’s old team for 34 seasons and played for Sarachek from 196′ to 1966. "Think of Bobby Knight," said Halpert, referring to famously hot-tempered coach of Indiana and Texas Tech universities, "but double the intensity, double the fire, and then you have a picture of Red on the sidelines."

"If he didn’t get on you," said Halpert, "he didn’t think you were any good."

Yeshiva University will memorialize their beloved coach with a short ceremony before their Wednesday, Dec. 14, game against the College of Mount Saint Vincent. The pre-game ceremonies also include the first- ever reunion for all previous YU basketball teams. The reunion celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the 1955-56 squad, whose 16-‘ record holds the YU mark for the highest winning percentage in a season.

Halpert said the team’s success was a testament to Sarachek’s attention to detail.

"Red was a great fundamentalist," Halpert said, "and he taught the fundamentals of the game. Many of his approaches and techniques were picked up by coaches today."

Halpert pointed specifically to Sarachek’s Scranton Miners of the American Basketball League, where he helped develop future coaching legends Red Holzman of the New York Knicks and Lou Carnesecca of St. John’s University.

His tenure at YU was interrupted in the early 1940s by World War II, when he was enlisted. But he returned to coaching shortly after the war, all the while maintaining his full-time job as owner of Circle Athletics, a wholesale and retail sporting goods store in Brooklyn, where he lived with his wife Belle and four children. But he never let his busy schedule affect his coaching.

"He [Sarachek] wanted to stay at Yeshiva because he was a very proud Jew," said Halpert, "and he enjoyed teaching those kids and letting them play basketball."

But he didn’t just let his players play — he let them have it.

Said Halpert, "Red always used to say, ‘When I stop yelling at you, that’s when you have to start worrying.’"

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