Boys basketball player of the year award renamed after Tom Andreasen

He no longer sits on the bench at basketball games, yet Tom Andreasen remains close to a sport that he has played, coached, worked as an administrator and simply enjoyed for nearly a half-century now.

A one-time Storey County High School - now Virginia City - star who played for state championship teams in 1959 and 1962, Andreasen went on to play at the University of Nevada (1963-66), then served as head coach of the programs at Virginia City and Carson between 1969 and '80, He spent 19 years as Carson's athletic director before he returned for one more stint as head coach for the Senators in the late 1990s. His combined record as coach was an impressive 213-120, including state championships at Virginia City in 1972 and at Carson in 1975.

Last week, Chuck Hildebrand announced that the Greater Nevada Player of the Year award presented by NevadaPrep.com online service has been renamed as the Tom Andreasen Award. The award is presented annually, and for the first time, the male and female players of the year recipients will receive $500 in scholarship money. The girls award has been named after Jessica Welch, the former Spanish Springs High star who died in a November automobile accident.

It would be hard to find a more appropriate name for Northern Nevada's boys player of the year.

"Talk about Nevada basketball history, Tom played high school ball here, he played at Nevada and he's coached at just about every level," said Jerry Hughes, executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. "He knows about everybody in the state and he's just a tremendous guy who has a great sense of humor, great knowledge of the game and he loves the kids."

Now ask Bob Rudnick, who played two seasons of junior high ball, one high school J.V. season and three varsity seasons at Virginia City, and was an all-state guard for the Muckers' 1972 1A state championship team.

"He's my all-time favorite basketball coach, a great mentor and role model," said Rudnick, now the Douglas County Undersheriff. "Tom Andreasen has had a profound impact on my life when it comes to basketball, as far as a player and as a coach. I coach youth basketball now and I teach my kids exactly the same way he taught me. And, here I am, 50 years old, I still play the game and I still play exactly the way he showed me."

These days, Andreasen simply likes to relax and enjoy watching games. It doesn't matter whether the venue is Lawlor Events Center, where the Nevada Wolf Pack plays ... or Dayton High, where his daughter, Shari Andreasen is now head coach of the girls program ... or Carson High, where he was Friday night to watch the Senators play the rival Reno Huskies.

"I still have a soft spot for Carson," Andreasen said. "I have a lot of memories there."

The list of players he coached and watched at Carson is considerable. From the 1975 state championship team there was Mike Longero, who went on to play four seasons for the Nevada Wolf Pack, and later served as an assistant under Andreasen when his son, Cody Longero, played for Carson. Another member of Carson's state championship team, Paul Gray, has coached at Reed over the past two decades. Craig Allison, Chris Padgett, Mike Dandos and future Major League pitcher Charley Kerfeld were members of the team Andreasen guided to a zone tournament title in 1980. His daughters, Shari and Amber both played basketball at Carson and later at Biola University (Amber also coached at Biola), while his son, Bob, played for Carson and San Francisco State.

And the 1972 Virginia City state championship team featured a backcourt combo of Rudnick and Bob Gallagher, who later coached and served as athletic director at Elko High.

"Allison ... Padgett ... Clark Wood ... Dandos ... Charley ... Longero ... or those little shooters up at Virginia City ... Yeah, I'd be interested in coming back to coach if I had those guys back," Andreasen said with a laugh.

Talent wasn't the only reason those teams were successful.

"He's a fundamentalist and a traditionalist. Boxing out, good defense, good helping on defense, and he always taught us that playing with heart was bigger than anything," Rudnick said of Andreasen. "Very often our teams were outmanned and outsized, but we won a lot of games because of fundamentals and just playing with heart."

They won a lot of games because of good shooting, too.

"If we got a good look, he instilled in us that there is no such thing as a bad shot," Rudnick said. "And that was back before the three-point line. I hate to think what we would have done to teams if we'd had the three-point line back then."

Andreasen was a post-sized player at Virginia City, yet he could shoot with any guard. Rudnick remembers playing with his mentor in Virginia City alumni games.

"He could shoot the lights out," Rudnick said. "But the thing I remember him saying was, 'Find me, I'll pick your man and you shoot.' I think he just got more joy watching his students play than he did in shooting himself."

Make no mistake about it, Andreasen wouldn't trade any of his coaching memories for anything in the world. Does he miss coaching from the bench? Well, there is a lot less stress and pressure up in the stands. He also enjoys watching high school games, and now gets a chance to watch Nevada (he played for the Wolf Pack's Far West Conference championship team of 1965-66).

"I have season tickets up at Nevada and I try to go see every game I can get to," Andreasen said. "They've done a great job of reviving the program up there. They have a darn good team."

Andreasen tries to make time to get out and watch the Dayton Dust Devils - where his daughter coaches the girls and former Carson assistant Rob Streeter coaches the boys.

"It's kind of fun," he said. "It's different, she's building a new program there, and she's doing a good job. She's very patient, and she knows the game, and those are two important qualities for any coach, whether you're talking about high school or college."

Tom Andreasen, who was inducted into the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2002, served as state tournament director from 1980 through 2004, though he won't have that responsibility this year because the state finals are being held in Las Vegas.

Andreasen is impartial when it comes to the tournament games, of course. Then again, he can't help but show at least a hint of favoritism.

"I'll be pulling for Carson and Paul (Gray at Reed)," he said with a chuckle.

Regardless of who wins, the Northern 4A playoff games should prove exciting.

"Every one of those games is going to be a battle," Andreasen said. "It's just a shame only one team gets to go because there are a lot of very good teams up North this year. Only one team goes and I don't know who it's going to be."

It doesn't matter. Andreasen will be there watching the kids play basketball.

Contact Dave Price at dprice@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-1220.

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