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Vic Bubas

Vic Bubas (born 1926 in Gary, Indiana) is a legendary former basketball coach of Duke University.

Early life

Bubas graduated from Gary Lew Wallace High School in 1944. He then went on to North Carolina State University where he played for Everett Case. Bubas was an All-Southern Conference selection twice. After he graduated in 1951 he stayed on as a freshman coach till 1955 and as a varsity assistant coach until he was hired by Duke University in 1959.

At Duke University

During the 1960s Bubas expanded Duke University's basketball program. He took it from a successful regional program that won a lot of games to a national program.


Bubas is widely credited with pioneering the art of recruiting by targeting players very early and gathering information on them before other coaches had learned of them and would send newspaper clippings of Duke games to prospects. As North Carolina legendary coach Dean Smith once stated,
"Vic taught us all how to recruit, we had been starting on prospects in the fall of their senior years while Vic was working on them their junior year. For a while, all of us were trying to catch up with him."

Bubas's tireless efforts paid off as he brought in future All-Americans from all over the country. His first big coup was getting eventual National Player Of The Year Art Heyman to go to Duke. Heyman was originally set to attend North Carolina but a near fight between Heyman's stepfather and UNC head coach Frank McGuire (McGuire took it personally when Heyman's stepfather referred to his program as "a factory") sent Heyman on a different path and Bubas stepped in and was able to convince Heyman to attend Duke.

Another big coup was getting eventual two-time All-American Jeff Mullins from the state of Kentucky and legendary Adolph Rupp. Paired together, Heyman and Mullins formed a devastating duo.


Times were different. Freshmen were not allowed to play on the varsity and only the winner of the ACC Tournament could go to the NCAA Tournament. Vic Bubas' Duke teams still flourished. What began during that 1959-60 season grew rapidly over the course of the decade. In that first season, Duke was blown out twice each by Wake Forest and North Carolina. But in the ACC Tournament, Bubas got revenge, stunning 16th-ranked North Carolina and 18th-ranked Wake Forest in the title game for Duke's first ACC championship. Duke received the automatic bid in the NCAA tournament, where the Blue Devils won two games before losing to 12th-ranked NYU. It was a very surprising first season for the young coach. As his program progressed, Duke would finish in the AP Top-10 basketball poll in seven of his ten seasons. He led Duke to the NCAA Final Four three times (1963, 64 and 66). His teams finished first in league play on four occasions and won four ACC championships, competing in the ACC Tournament championship game in eight of his ten seasons. Bubas led Duke to a 213-67 record, which was the 3rd-highest win total in America during the Sixties. His .761 winning percentage ranks tenth all-time among NCAA coaches.


Bubas retired from coaching in 1969 and then served as a Duke administrator, eventually becoming the Vice-President of the university. In 1976, he became the first commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference, a position he held for fourteen years until his retirement. It was recently announced that Bubas would be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.


Duke University's record during the Vic Bubas Era.

  • 1960, 17-11, (4th in ACC) ACC Champions,# 18 final ranking, NCAA elite 8.
  • 1961, 22-6, (3rd in ACC) #10 final ranking.
  • 1962, 20-5, (2nd in ACC) #10 final ranking.
  • 1963, 27-3, (1st in ACC) ACC Champions, #2 final ranking, NCAA Final Four.
  • 1964, 26-5, (1st in ACC) ACC Champions, #3 final ranking, NCAA Final Four. (2nd place)
  • 1965, 20-5, (1st in ACC) #10 final ranking.
  • 1966, 26-4, (1st in ACC) ACC Champions, #2 final ranking, NCAA Final Four.
  • 1967, 18-9, (2nd in ACC) #19 final ranking (coaches poll).
  • 1968, 22-6, (2nd in ACC) #10 final ranking, NIT Tournament (1-1 record).
  • 1969, 15-13, (T3rd in ACC).

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