Schuck's Clipboard

Thought-provoking Pinkston poured everything into coaching

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 19, 2020 12:01 am

Time obviously escaped everyone.

The beads of condensation running down the sides of the beer cans because of the summer humidity had pooled or evaporated entirely. The pizza boxes were nearly empty, aside from a couple of pieces that had dried out from sitting uncovered too long.

And the afternoon sun turned into a dusty moon as the conversation finally started to wane.

That's what happens when you get a group of legendary basketball coaches together to tell stories and talk strategy.

The group assembled around the kitchen table -- Ron Felling, Pat Rafferty and Reno Pinkston -- piled up enough victories, championships and tales to entertain for hours. So it came as no surprise time passed without anyone checking their phone or looking at the clock.

As I sat there soaking up the camaraderie and enjoying every ounce of hardwood chatter, my attention continually shifted to Pinkston. These were his mentors. He played for Rafferty at Noble High School and developed a relationship with Felling through Rafferty.

They influenced his coaching, his approach to the game and his love for competition.

That day, more than ever before, I could see how. They made him think, something that set Pinkston apart during his Hall of Fame career. He resigned this week as the West Hancock boys basketball coach, bringing an end to a 29-year career that yielded 620 victories and one state championship.

For all the nuances and traditions that made his career unique -- you knew what you were up against when you heard "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osborne play as a Pinkston-led team came out of the locker room -- his approach is what set him apart.

Pinkston looked at the game differently, very cerebral and introspective. He demanded a lot from his players, while demanding more from himself. He assessed every aspect of every game, not just the effort and execution, but the preparation, the game plan and the thought process.

Pinkston understood strategy and movement as well as any coach, but his overall success averaging 21 victories per season was a direct result of getting his players to think about the game the way he did.

It wasn't ever easy, but few coaches ever have won as consistently as Pinkston with so many unique roster pieces. He didn't have all-staters on every team, but he had kids who listened to him and were willing to be pushed to unprecedented levels.

He pushed hard because he knew they could handle it, and he wanted them to see all they were capable of doing.

He did it to make them better basketball players, more responsible young men and people who wanted to chase dreams, not just sit on their dreams.

Pinkston chased his dreams, ones born as a shooting guard for the Rafferty-led Noble teams.

Those days seem like a lifetime ago until the stories get relived and the roots of Pinkston's success feel like they took hold just yesterday. He spent 29 years pouring his passion into coaching, and his love for the game and coaching will lead him back to a gym in some capacity.

In the meantime, listen to Pinkston when he tells stories, talks strategy and enlightens everyone with his unique way of thinking about the game.

If you're lucky enough to be sitting at the table when such a conversation starts, embrace it. Time will escape you, and that's OK. Unforgettable moments shouldn't have a timeframe.