Tim Floyd – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Head Coach, 1988-94
Tim Floyd, who led University of New Orleans men’s basketball to fun times and national prominence during the late 1980s and early 1990s, has been selected for induction in the 2020 class of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
Floyd’s UNO teams were 127-58 in six seasons (1988-94), winning four regular-season conference championships, earning two NCAA Tournament bids and three more to the National Invitation Tournament.
“I can honestly say that I never had more fun coaching than I did at UNO,” Floyd said. “I was never happier than I was at UNO.”
Floyd’s first UNO team was a major rebuild. It had no returning starters from the previous season and no starters taller than 6-feet-5. “That’s the first time no one in an airport asked me if I was with a basketball team,” Floyd said on the eve of his UNO debut, a tournament in San Marcos, Texas. Unheralded UNO won that tournament and finished the season with 19 victories, including a home upset of 12th-ranked Florida State. After winning the American South Conference regular-season championship, Floyd’s Privateers earned an NIT invitation.
“Tim Floyd was the whole package,” said New Orleans attorney David Sherman, who chaired the UNO search committee that helped hire Floyd. “He was an amazing recruiter, great coach and wonderful ambassador for UNO in the community.”
Of Floyd’s 13 college teams (including stops at four other schools) that reached 20 victories, his winningest was at UNO, when the Privateers were 26-4 in 1992-93, went 18-0 in the Sun Belt Conference and ranked 17th in the nation in the final regular-season Associated Press poll.
Floyd-coached UNO teams also scored victories against Power-Five programs such as Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pitt, Texas A&M and — in back-to-back seasons — Virginia.
“UNO was an urban job in a city that was loaded with basketball talent,” Floyd said, “with a relatively new building (Lakefront Arena) in a city that I loved. I didn’t have the pulls from the outside that I would experience at other places.”
Floyd also credited city rival Tulane — whose return to basketball after a self-imposed four-year shutdown coincided with Floyd’s second season at UNO — as a motivational factor.
“Tulane coming back forced us to work really hard,” Floyd said. “It was like a new Burger King opening across the street from McDonald’s. The service gets better, the pricing gets better, the bathrooms get cleaner.
“Fortunately, there were a lot of players in the area available, and we had assistant coaches who could go outside the area and find good players when necessary. This was a time when the state was really strong in basketball. There were enough good players around to service many good teams in the state.”
Floyd emphasized defense, rebounding, free throws and composure on the road. His teams regularly delivered on his demands. Five times the Privateers ranked among the top 25 in NCAA Division I in scoring defense. They won nearly two-thirds of their conference road games. The 1990-91 team led D-I with a 9.1 rebound margin. Two years later, Floyd proudly boasted of his 26-4 team making more free throws (552) than its opponents attempted (542).
“That doesn’t happen a lot,” Floyd said of the FTM-to-FTA ratio. “But it’s an important stat because you’re getting opponents in foul trouble and giving your team a chance to score with the clock stopped. It means you’ve got a pretty good team.”
Floyd’s most notable player success was Ervin Johnson, an unrecruited 6-11 center that he developed into UNO’s only NBA first-round draft pick, as well as a Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Famer. “I can’t say enough about coach Floyd and what he’s meant in my life,” said Johnson, who played 13 NBA seasons (1993-2006). “He took a chance on me when nobody else would. He kept working with me and motivating me to bring out the best in me. He never gave up on me, even though I wasn’t a good player when I got to UNO.”
Floyd also was a head coach at Idaho, Iowa State, USC and UTEP and in the NBA at Chicago and New Orleans. He finished with 444 victories in 24 seasons as a college head coach, and his best winning percentage — .686 — was at UNO. His college teams produced 20 winning seasons.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame was Floyd’s second in-state induction. He was enshrined in the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
Story by Ed Cassiere of the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee.