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Ex-Cougars Come to Praise Lewis

February 6, 1996

HOUSTON (AP) _ As far as Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler are concerned, Guy Lewis is a Hall of Famer.

The retired University of Houston coach failed to win election Monday to the Basketball Hall of Fame, but that did not deter two of his finest former players from praising the man who made five trips to the Final Four.

``One of these years, he will be in the Hall of Fame,″ said Olajuwon, the Houston Rockets center honored as the 1994 NBA Most Valuable Player and NBA Playoffs MVP in 1994 and ’95.

``Normally, teams in Texas, the Southwest Conference and the Rockets, they overlook us at the national level. He was a great coach. He gave me a strong foundation. One of these days, people will finally acknowledge him.″

Lewis directed the Cougars through Elvin Hayes era of the 1960s and the Olajuwon-Drexler era of the ’80s. He retired in 1986 with 492 career victories.

``He’s a legend, certainly here and around the world, there’s no reason for him not to be in the Hall of Fame,″ said Drexler, the Rockets’ guard and one-time Houston high school star who went on to stardom with the Cougars and the NBA. ``As a former player and a close friend, there’s no doubt he should be there.″

Two other coaches, Don Haskins of Texas-El Paso and Jerry Tarkanian of Fresno State, also were nominated but failed to get enough votes for induction.

``I am disappointed naturally, but you go on,″ Lewis said. ``Anybody associated with basketball would like to be in the national Hall of Fame. But I’ve always said I’m not going through life thinking about it.

``Really and truly it’s an honor just to be nominated and I appreciate the people who nominated me.″

Lewis knows he got one vote.

``Elvin Hayes told me I’d get one vote because he was on the voting committee,″ Lewis said.

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