Thursday, September 8, 2016

Longtime Gold Rush coach Denny Alexander dies at 70

NEW ORLEANS — Eugene Dennis "Denny" Alexander, whose Xavier University of Louisiana men's basketball teams won more than 200 games and multiple Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championships, died Tuesday (Sept. 6, 2016) in Michigan. He was 70.

Alexander coached the Gold Rush from 1978-90 and set a school record for career victories with 212. That record has been broken twice since then. Alexander's teams won three GCAC regular-season championships, including the league's first two, and a pair of NAIA District 30/GCAC Tournament championships. They made two NAIA national tournament appearances and produced five 20-win seasons.

He was a three-time GCAC Coach of the Year.

The best season under Alexander was 1981-82, when the Gold Rush won 29 in a row after an opening loss, won conference and district regular-season and tournament titles and qualified for nationals. That team finished 29-2 after a first-round loss.

Alexander also served as Xavier's director of athletics, as chairman of the NAIA District 30 men's basketball committee and as a rater/voter on the NAIA national poll.

"I will always cherish the memories and times I spent with coach Alexander," said Kenny Loyd, who played for XULA from 1982-86. "Coach enforced the importance of education and graduation, and he kept track of his players after college and offered support and advice to help us financially, spiritually and socially.
I am so glad the bond that we had at Xavier continued after college. Coach was very important in helping me develop into the man and the father that I am today."

The top five Gold Rush career scorers — Merlin Peters (1,960 points), Juan Mercier (1,735). Evan Robinson (1,662), Byron Williams (1,509) and Eugene Johnson (1,494) — played for Alexander. Mercier and Johnson played their entire XULA careers under Alexander.

Cause of death was not announced. Services will be next week in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Mich., with the viewing of the body Sept. 15 and the funeral Sept. 16.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

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