I was using one of the gigantic alumni scrapbooks the other day and as I flipped through the pages this 1942 clipping caught my eye:
My first reaction was that if I had ever known that the legendary University of Houston basketball coach had attended Rice I’d forgotten it. Next I wondered if it was really him. Surely there can’t have been two people named Guy Lewis from Arp, but then I recalled my confusion back in 2011 over what turned out to be two guys called Heavy Underwood from Honey Grove. So I went and checked.
Yes, it’s actually the real Guy Lewis. From the 1942 Campanile:
Lewis was an incredibly important figure in the history of basketball and the history of the University of Houston. He died only a few years ago and his New York Times obituary is here.
Bonus: I don’t know what this was all about.
Guy Lewis was the answer to the Jan. 6, 2010, Rice Update Trivia question (http://rubpa.rice.edu/blogs.aspx?blogmonth=1&blogyear=2010&blogid=269&page=2)
Q. Name the former Rice basketball player who won 592 games as a NCAA Division I head basketball coach.
A: Guy V Lewis played basketball at Rice for 2 years before World War II. After serving in the war, he attended UH where he graduated in 1947. As Cougars head basketball coach, he led them to 592 wins and 27 straight winning seasons.
(Jimmy Disch suggested this question.)
Hmmm, that’s what my husband and I have always heard, but the New York Times obituary says he attended Rice after his military service and then left to attend U of H…
Aha! I didn’t find Alan Shelby until 2011!
Bubble soccer looks insanely much more fun than real soccer.
Everybody know Guy Lewis played at Rice before UH. That’s part of Houston lore.
Not me! I was completely surprised.
In addition to the newspaper article and 1942 Campanile shown above, Guy Lewis is mentioned on page 4 of the Jan. 16, 1942, Thresher — “(Rice star Bill) Closs, (basketball coach) Buster Brannon indicated late Thursday afternoon, may yield his starting position to sophomore Guy Lewis if a troublesome charley-horse continues to hamper him Fridav.” — and also on the page 5 box score of the Rice vs. A&M game (https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/65650/thr19420116.pdf?sequence=1)
In the previous year (1941), Lewis is mentioned in the post-season outlook article on page 3 of the March 7, 1941, Thresher: “A quick glance at Brannon’s probable 1941-42 line-up has Closs, Kinney, Palmer, Gomez, and either Lambert or Walters in the first firing line, with plenty of support expected from other freshmen, including Lewis, McDonald, Blackburn, and Enloe.”
There were no box scores in the 1941 Threshers as there were in the 1942 issues. Interestingly, Lewis did not appear in any other box scores after that January 1942 A&M game.
Might he have been frustrated playing behind a future All-American (Closs) … or had academic issues (which affected many Rice students in those days) … or enlisted in early 1942 (his service record may be a findable public record)?
In any case, it’s certainly clear that Guy Lewis played at Rice during the 1941 & 1942 seasons … which would surely be before he served in World War II.
It’s time to do some Wikipedia editing. 🙂
It turns out that both the New York Times and Houston Chronicle have published articles about Guy Lewis in which they say he attended Rice before enlisting.
> NYTimes (March 31, 1983; http://www.nytimes.com/1983/03/31/sports/guy-lewis-faithful-to-houston-tradition.html ): “Lewis … began his college career at Rice Institute, where he played basketball and studied for two years before serving as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II.”
> Houston Chronicle (Sept. 2013; https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/article/Lewis-path-to-greatness-began-in-small-town-East-4796122.php): “It wasn’t until his sophomore season (of high school) that he picked up basketball, ultimately landing a scholarship to Rice Institute.”
And his Army enlistment record is public (https://aad.archives.gov/aad/record-detail.jsp?dt=893&mtch=1&cat=WR26&tf=F&sc=24994,24995,24996,24998,24997,24993,24981,24983&bc=,sl,fd&txt_24995=Guy+Lewis&op_24995=0&nfo_24995=V,24,1900&cl_24996=85&op_24996=null&nfo_24996=V,2,1900&sort=24993%20desc&rpp=10&pg=1&rid=1571057) and indicates that he had attended college for two years before enlisting.
Bob Kinney and Bill Tom Closs were both All Americans