Sarachek, who played basketball at New York University in the 1930s, is better known for being Yeshiva University's head coach for almost 40 years. The Red Sarachek High School Basketball Tournament is held annually at Yeshiva University, and brings together 18 Jewish high school teams from across the country.
Sarachek -- who died at 93 on Noveber 14, 2005 -- coached at a university that offered no athletic scholarships, had no home gymnasium and demanded much from its students in academic and religious pursuits. But, as Richard Goldstein observed in his obituary on Sarachek in The New York Times (November 19, 2005), "he became a well-known figure on the New York college basketball scene alongside coaches like Red Holzman, Nat Holman, Joe Lapchick, Clair Bee, Howard Cann and Lou Carnesecca.
"Sarachek's motion offenses, trapping defenses, schemes to beat a zone defense and imaginative in-bounds plays drew much attention. 'Young coaches would come and watch his drills in practices and take notes and use the same plays for their schools,' Jeffrey Gurock, an assistant at Yeshiva since 1979 and a professor of Jewish history there, said Tuesday in a telephone interview.
"Sarachek was 202-263 at Yeshiva, coaching from the early 1940's to the late 1960's, but the record books were only a small part of the story. His 1956-57 squad, coming off a 16-2 record the previous season, had a starting lineup of three predental students, a pre-med student and a rabbinical student. Sarachek sometimes drew up strategy while riding the subway with his players to Yeshiva's Upper Manhattan campus and said he never cut a player who was willing to devote himself to the program."
"The players are just unusual," Red told The New York Times in 1956. "They tell me they can't come to practice and I say, 'Why?' and they say, 'Gotta study,' and what can I say? Studies come first with these kids, but basketball is a challenge they meet. That they have time to play basketball is a miracle."
Known as a perfectionist, Sarachek acknowledged that "I screamed at the kids so much that they were so nervous they couldn't miss the basket."
Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1912 - d. November 14, 2005
After playing at NYU in the early 1930s, Sarachek coached at Yeshiva University. He remained at Yeshiva University as coach and athletic director from 1941-1980, winning 306 games during his career. In the 1940s and 1950s, he also coached professional teams, including Scranton of the American Basketball League, where he won the league championship in 1949-1951. Sarachek is a member of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (in Commack, New York), and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.
Brooklyn, New York
Sarachek played at New York University, 1931-1933.