PORTLAND — In the last few years, Cheverus High School boys’ basketball coach Bob Brown took time after each season to contemplate his coaching future.

“I would wait until the players had their banquet and then I would sit down and decide if I should go on as coach,” he said. “This was the first year that the answer was no.”

Brown, 73, resigned Friday, ending one of the most storied high school coaching careers in state history. He was the head basketball coach at seven high schools over 32 years, the last 11 at Cheverus.

Counting his years as an assistant coach and three stints on the college level, Brown coached for 52 years – 42 years as a head coach.

“I made up my mind Tuesday morning, but I’ve been mulling it much longer than that,” said Brown. “You want to leave while you’re still doing a good job, and I feel I have.”

Brown won four Class A state championships and had an overall high school record of 476-154. He guided South Portland to back-to-back state championships in 1979 and 1980, and led Cheverus to state titles in 2008 and 2010. Only twice did his teams fail to reach the regional tournament.

Brown said his retirement has been delayed in recent years by “the great kids, parents and administrators at Cheverus.”

His last Cheverus team finished 14-6 and lost to the eventual state champion, Deering, in the Western Maine Class A semifinals.

“This season, I had absolutely great kids. We didn’t get to the finals, but they were great kids,” said Brown. “It would have been fun to coach these kids and watch their growth, but at the same time it was time to step aside. I feel good about it. It’s time.”

Brown, a graduate of Cony High in Augusta and Boston University, started his coaching career at Belgrade High in 1960. Then it was on to Williams High (now Messalonskee) of Oakland. That was followed by coaching jobs at Rockland, South Portland, Edward Little, Bonny Eagle and Cheverus.

Brown left South Portland in 1981 to serve at Boston University as an assistant to Rick Pitino – who will coach Louisville today in the NCAA’s Final Four.

Two years later, Brown became head coach at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. He returned to high school at Edward Little for one season before beginning a three-year run at the University of Southern Maine. That was followed by four years as head coach at Boston University.

In 1996, Brown returned to high school coaching again, at Bonny Eagle, where he stayed for three seasons. He became the Cheverus coach for the 2001-02 season.

Marshwood High coach Mike Zamarchi, who played for Brown for three seasons at USM, was among the first people to hear from Brown about his retirement.

“Bob has been year-to-year, so I kind of knew it would happen,” said Zamarchi, who has been coaching at Marshwood for 17 years. “I was both sad and glad when he told me. Sad because we’re losing the best coach in Maine, and glad because I never beat him.

“Bob set the bar for coaches in the state,” he said. “He was better prepared than any coach you went against. When he went to Cheverus, I knew he was going to build a dynasty. Bob still had the passion and the energy at the end.”

Brown has been in demand as a lecturer at basketball clinics, nationally and abroad. One of his career highlights was sharing the stage with Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith of North Carolina at an International Basketball Conference in Greece.

Brown has also given clinics in Australia, New Zealand and Finland. His son, Brett, is an assistant coach with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and head coach of the Australian Olympic team.

Brown’s 1988-89 USM team reached the Division III Final Four, finishing third in the country.

“A team from Maine finishing third in the country?” said Brown. “That was pretty special and is one of the highlights of my career.”

Brown has been inducted into five halls of fame, including the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame.

“This is a sad day, not only for the Cheverus community, but for everyone in Maine who enjoys high school basketball,” said the Rev. William Campbell, the school’s president.

“Although he is known around the state as a fierce competitor, Coach Brown is, more importantly, known and respected as a man of integrity and character, both on the court and off. He has been a strong and positive influence on everyone here at Cheverus, and he will be greatly missed.”

In retirement, Brown will have more time to enjoy fishing and playing bridge and tennis. He and his wife, Bonny, plan to travel and spend more time with their children, Brett and Barbra, and their seven grandchildren.

Evaluating his career, Brown said: “I’ve been blessed. Nothing happens without good people around you. That, and being in the right place at the right time.”

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH