|Only time will
tell, but there's no doubt that the
similarities between Bill Self and Scott
Sutton are ironic. Self was a protégé of
Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton. Of
course, Scott is the youngest son of the
legendary coach and has borrowed a few notes
from Dad as well.
|Scott Sutton enters his
ninth season as head coach at Oral Roberts
University in the midst of ORU’s most successful
stretch in nearly 30 years. Over the past three
seasons, ORU has won 69 games, captured three
Mid-Continent Conference regular-season titles,
won consecutive Mid-Con Tournament titles, and
played in two NCAA Tournaments and one NIT.
Hired as an administrative assistant by former ORU
head coach Bill Self prior to the 1995-96 season,
Sutton’s early ORU career has often been compared
with Self’s. But the current ORU boss has clearly
made a name for himself. Sutton was honored as the
NABC District 12 co-Coach of the Year for 2004-05,
sharing the award with his father, Oklahoma
State’s legendary Eddie Sutton.
Last season, Sutton handed his teacher a stunning
defeat when the Golden Eagles handed Self’s
third-ranked Jayhawks a 76-71 setback at Allen
Fieldhouse in mid-November.
With the second-longest coaching tenure in ORU
history, Sutton ranks second on the school’s
all-time victories list with 144. Former ORU coach
Ken Trickey set school records with 214 career
wins in 11 seasons spread out over two campaigns.
In seven seasons at ORU, Sutton is 144-102 (.585).
Since the start of the 2001-02 season, Sutton has
guided the Golden Eagles to a 121-66 (.647) mark.
During that same span, ORU has finished either
first or second in the Mid-Con standings five
Under Sutton’s leadership ORU’s basketball revival
continued during the 2006-07 season. With seniors
Caleb Green and Ken Tutt playing their last season
for the Golden Eagles, ORU won 23 games, captured
the Mid-Con regular-season and tournament titles,
and played in the NCAA Tournament for the second
Green capped his record-setting career with his
third straight Mid-Con Player of the Year, and
also became the conference’s all-time leader in
points and rebounds.
Tutt, always the Robin to Green’s Batman, also
went out in style, albeit in a more dramatic
fashion. Tutt hit the game-winning shot with 31
seconds left in ORU’s win over Oakland in the
Mid-Con title game, the seventh game-winning shot
of his clutch career.
It was another up-and-down season, one which began
with the muchcelebrated win at Kansas, but ended
with a disappointing loss to Washington State in
the NCAA Tournament first round. For the second
straight year ORU was one of the underdog
favorites, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t make a
halftime lead hold up against the Pac-10
Sutton led ORU to 20 wins for the third straight
season in 2006-07, the second longest such streak
in school history.
The 2005-06 season saw Sutton and the Golden
Eagles finally reach their ultimate goal of
advancing to the NCAA Tournament, one season after
suffering a heartbreaking defeat in the Mid-Con
championship game. But while the season ended on a
high note, it was one of Sutton’s most challenging
A veteran team, one which featured just a single
newcomer, was for the third time in four years the
consensus pick to capture the Mid-Con crown and
advance into the post season. Some publications
boldly predicted a Sweet 16 appearance for the
Golden Eagles, and for the first time recent
memory, ORU received votes in the Associated Press
preseason Top 25 poll.
But a rash of injuries, combined with a murderous
non-conference schedule which featured eight
consecutive road games over 24 days in December
and early January, contributed to a slow start.
With only 10 scholarship players available at the
start of the year due to red-shirts and four-year
transfers, ORU was forced to play even more
shorthanded for much of the non-conference season
when guards Jonathan Bluitt, Andrew Meloy and
Chris Riouse went down with injuries. The trio
combined to miss 11 games during December’s rugged
stretch. Following a loss at Minnesota on Dec.
31st, the undermanned Golden Eagles stood on the
brink of Mid-Con play with a 5-7 record.
“We realized we put the team in a tough spot with
such a tough schedule in December,” said Sutton.
“The injuries only made it tougher. After the
nonconference season ended, we tried to stay
positive with the guys. We overcame a lot of
adversity and never lost our focus. It toughened
us up. Winning our first two conference games at
the end of that road swing really set the tone for
the rest of the season.”
Through it all, Sutton held the Golden Eagles
together, reminding them that their goals were
still reachable with a strong conference season.
ORU started league play well, winning their first
three conference games. But the injury bugstruck
again, when two-time all-conference shooting guard
Ken Tutt suffered a foot fracture and was forced
to miss 10 games.
Again, Sutton kept the Golden Eagles focused. ORU
was 8-2 in Tutt’s absence, and in position to win
the regular-season title. The Golden Eagles closed
with three straight league victories following
Tutt’s return, and earned a share of their second
straight Mid-Con regular-season crown.
Tutt led the way for the Golden Eagles in the
Mid-Con Tournament, earning MVP honors after
scoring 27 points in the championship game. After
enduring a shocking loss to seventh-seeded Oakland
in the Mid-Con finals one year earlier, Sutton
said the Golden Eagles’ 85-72 win over Chicago
State last year gave him peace.
”I knew,” said Sutton in the post-game press
conference, “that winning was the only way I could
ever get over that loss.”
He still believes that today.
“ I think we’re past that now, but the loss to
Oakland does still bother me some,“ he said.
“Although defeating Chicago State helped erase a
lot of the bad memories.”
After a loss to No. 1 seed Memphis in the NCAA
Tournament first round, ORU finished the 2005-06
season with a 21-12 record, giving the Golden
Eagles backto-back 20-win season for the first
time since the mid-1970s.
Though 2004-05 was a success by anyone’s
standards, it was also bittersweet. Sutton led the
Golden Eagles to 25 wins, the Mid-Con
regular-season title and several big victories.
ORU won its second straight Mayor’s Cup game with
a record setting rout of Tulsa. The Golden Eagles
also knocked off Georgetown in the Rainbow
Classic, Southwest Missouri State in the ESPN
Bracket Buster and captured road wins at St. Louis
and Valparaiso, the first by the Golden Eagles on
the Crusaders’ home court.
But ORU’s upset loss to Oakland in the Mid-Con
Tournament finals prevented 2004-05 from being
everything the Golden Eagles believed it would be
when the season began with an 8-0 start. Despite
the crushing loss, ORU was rewarded with an
invitation to the NIT, the program’s first
post-season berth in eight years. With high
expectations entering Sutton’s first campaign as
coach, the Golden Eagles stumbled to a 13-17
overall record. Five of those losses came in
overtime, while another four came at the end of
the season when he had to suspend two of his best
players for violation of team rules.
In his second campaign, minus six seniors from the
year before, ORU finished 10-19 overall. There was
hope early, as the Golden Eagles began the season
with an 87-83 triumph over Big 12 foe Nebraska at
the Mabee Center. However, the reality of the
team’s inexperience (10 new players) eventually
settled in as ORU had losing streaks of seven and
nine games, respectively.
Sutton finally reaped the rewards of his hard work
in year three. The Golden Eagles rebounded from a
2-7 start to finish 17-14 overall and second in
the Mid-Continent Conference. Had it not been for
a freak injury to leading scorer Reggie Borges in
the opening round of the Mid-Con Tournament, ORU
may have reached the NCAA Tournament much sooner
than expected. Instead, without Borges, the Golden
Eagles lost in the semifinals.
For his efforts, Sutton was named Mid-Con Coach of
the Year by a panel of league media members.
In 2002-03, ORU began the season 6-0 (the best
start in the program’s Division I history),
defeating Arkansas, SMU and Wichita State along
the way. The Golden Eagles finished the year with
an 18-10 overall mark, the school’s most victories
since the 1997-98 season.
In 2003-04, Sutton guided a team that consisted of
just one returning starter and six first-year
players to a 17-11 mark and a second-place finish
in the Mid-Continent Conference standings.
Growing up as the youngest son of a legendary
coach, Scott paid close attention to his father,
and has borrowed a few notes from Dad as well. He
also had the opportunity to play for his father at
Oklahoma State from 1992-94, helping the Cowboys
reach the NCAA Tournament both seasons.
With his father now retired, Scott is suddenly the
elder statesmen in the Sutton family among active
head coaches. Older brother, Sean, begins his
second season as head coach at Oklahoma State this
“I may have six-and-a-half years on Sean as a head
coach, but he’s been in the business a lot longer
than I have,” said Scott. “He was one of our
assistant coaches at OSU during my senior season.
He’s had a lot to do with their success over the
last several years, and I know he’s going to be a
fantastic head coach.”
From his days as a youngster watching his father
coach at Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky, to his
days as a player for him at Oklahoma State, to his
days as an assistant coach at ORU under the likes
of Self and Barry Hinson, Scott had learned a lot
about the game… and ORU.
“Of course I understand that it certainly didn’t
hurt my chances for getting this job being the son
of Eddie Sutton,” Scott said. “I do know that I
love this university. This is my university.
Oklahoma State may be my alma mater, but ORU is my
In truth, Sutton’s love and devotion to ORU, along
with his Christianity, basketball knowledge and
recruiting ability helped him earn his first head
coaching position. It has also helped him get
through the highs and lows he has experienced
since being named as ORU’s 11th head coach on
April 30, 1999. Sutton replaced current Missouri
State head coach Barry Hinson.