Herald-Whig

Celebrating milestones not part of Pinkston's DNA

West Hancock boys basketball coach Reno Pinkston. | H-W Photo/Mat Mikesell
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 18, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 18, 2019 2:26 am

The gesture was genuine.

So was Reno Pinkston's reaction.

Before the lineups were introduced before last Thursday night's boys basketball game at the Pit, the Quincy Notre Dame administration took a moment to congratulate Pinkston on his 600th career victory as a coach. They flashed a message across the video board and had the public address announcer read a short statement.

Standing in front of his team's bench to the right of the announcer's table, the West Hancock coach realized what was about to happen. His body language told you exactly how he felt.

Pinkston didn't want the attention or the distraction.

He was in game mode and ready to get on with the game.

He did take a minute to shake hands and share a laugh with QND coach Kevin Meyer at midcourt, and he was genuinely appreciative of QND's acknowledgement of the milestone. He would have liked it more had the Titans knocked off the Raiders to give him victory No. 601.

As it was, that had to wait until the next night against Central.

But that pregame moment where he looked momentarily pained to deal with anything other than coaching was quintessential Pinkston.

It's why he is the area's winningest coach, surpassing Pittsfield's Dave Bennett a couple of seasons ago. It's why he became the 38th coach in state history to reach 600 victories, as his teams have averaged 21 victories during his 28 seasons. It's why he's revered as one of the best basketball minds around.

Pinkston is a gamer in every sense.

His laser focus is legendary. His demeanor is fierce. His passion is unparalleled. His preparation is unmatched. His teams compete tirelessly.

And he's all business, all the time.

That's why Pinkston had moved past the No. 600 milestone moments after last week's 56-50 victory over Keokuk gave him the magic number. He didn't want his players focusing on it either.

"I want them to want to win No. 601, 602, 603," Pinkston said. "Those mean more right now."

Those are the ones that ensure the Titans are ready for the postseason. Those are the ones that would help Pinkston guide a team back to the state tournament. Those are the ones that push his legendary career forward.

Pinkston has never rested on his laurels or settled for anything. He demands effort, energy and commitment from his players. He demands more from himself and doesn't like anything steering him or his team off course.

"Some people have said to me they wished I coached their sons," he recently said. "I tell them, ‘Be careful what you wish for.'"

Some see him as rigid, but you can't argue with the results.

Pinkston wants No. 600 to be just another victory on the road to bigger and better things, but it's a milestone worth noting.

Whether he likes the attention or not.