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Metcalf dies; set SWC wins record at Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Shelby Metcalf, whose homespun humor often overshadowed his penchant for winning basketball games at Texas A&M, died after a long illness. He was 76.

Metcalf died Thursday at a College Station hospital, the university said.

In 27 seasons as coach of the Aggies, Metcalf won a record 239 Southwest Conference games and six league titles, including one in his first season in 1963-64. When he left midway through the 1989-90 season, he had a career record of 438-306, including 239-158 in conference.

But his knack for the one-liner will be how many remember him. A tribute to him on the Texas A&M Web site listed several examples of his wit, including his famous reply to a player who had four F's and a D on his grade report.

"Son, it looks to me like you're spending too much time on one subject," Metcalf told him.

Metcalf's teams went to five NCAA Tournaments, including the round of 16 in 1980, when the Aggies were 26-8. Texas A&M didn't win another NCAA Tournament game until last year, when Billy Gillispie led the Aggies to the second round and a near-upset of Final Four qualifier LSU.

Gillispie has revived a program that was dormant for 15 years after Metcalf left. He embraced Metcalf's legacy, recently starting the Shelby Metcalf Classic. Metcalf was known as the "King of the Tournaments" for taking the Aggies to 74 in-season tournaments.

Metcalf joined the Aggies in 1958 as coach of the freshman team, compiling a 41-19 record in five seasons.

In 1974, Metcalf earned a doctorate in philosophy from Texas A&M with a dissertation titled "Crowd Behavior at Southwest Conference Basketball Games."

"He was A&M basketball," said associate athletic director John Thornton, who played and coached under Metcalf. "He was a very intelligent guy. It was beautiful to watch him disarm people and recruit people with his wit and humor. There was nobody like him."

Metcalf was an All-American guard at East Texas State, now Texas A&M-Commerce, where he helped lead the team to an NAIA national championship his senior year.

After graduating, Metcalf coached one year of high school basketball in Texas before joining the Air Force. He played and coached for service teams as an officer stationed in Germany before going to A&M.

"You knew it was always going to be a tough, physical game against the Aggies," said Gerald Myers, Texas Tech athletic director and former coach. "I thought Shelby's teams were as tough to play as anybody, and we had some pretty good coaches in that league back then."

Metcalf is survived by his wife, Janis, a daughter and two grandchildren. The funeral will be Monday in nearby Bryan.