The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

March 25, 2014

Ex-Bama star Douglas leads Tuskegee's D-II run

— TUSKEGEE, Ala. (AP) — Leon Douglas is once again coming up big in the NCAA tournament, just on a smaller stage and wearing a suit instead of a jersey and shorts.

Nearly four decades after posting two of the University of Alabama's best postseason performances, Douglas the coach has guided eighth-seeded Tuskegee into the Division II quarterfinals Wednesday against Metro State in Evansville, Ind.

The Tigers (21-11) pulled off three straight upsets to win the South Region while the other seven No. 8 seeds fell in the first round. Like at Alabama, Douglas is doing it at a school better known for football.

He even drew a chuckle at his job interview from a skeptical administrator when he listed competing for an NCAA title as one of his goals eight years ago.

"Really, this has been a football school," Douglas, 59, said recently. "Basically, everything is centered around football. When I went to Alabama, Alabama was all football. For the four years I was there, we were able to transform it into not only just football but make it football and basketball.

"I'm trying to do the same thing here at Tuskegee."

The 6-foot-10 Douglas has done it in Division I, too. He had 35 points and 17 rebounds in an opening-round win over North Carolina in the 1976 NCAA tournament before losing to unbeaten and eventual national champion Indiana 74-69.

The year before, he racked up 29 points, 21 rebounds and seven blocked shots in a 97-94 opening-round loss to Arizona State.

Douglas still holds Alabama's single-game NCAA tournament records for rebounds and blocked shots in a game and is second in points scored.

As Tide teammate Wendell Hudson pointed out to Douglas recently: "Now you've got another chance on that stage."

"It's a miracle, it's a blessing," Douglas said. "It's a combination of things, but for us to be at this particular point is incredible."

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