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February 8, 2014

Max Marquardt remembered fondly

NORMAN — Max Marquardt operated in a different time. 

He was a state-championship winning basketball coach at Norman High at a time when running the Tiger program and the one on the nearby university campus wasn’t necessarily so different.

Norman was a smaller, one-high-school town. The Tigers were followed in the community in a way they and their contemporary Timberwolves’ counterparts can hardly begin to understand.

Marquardt ran the NHS boys program from 1964 to 1984, won it all in 1970, put strong teams on the floor throughout, and was a

celebrated “old-school” coach before the term had even been coined, likely because it was the only school.

Friday, the day he died, Marquardt, who was 78, was being remembered for his utter friendliness, loyalty, ability to serve up side-splitting conversations and as the guy who taught so much of Norman how to drive.

“In the hospital,” his son, Brent, said “a quarter of the people would say, ‘Hey Max, you taught me how to drive.’”

Fred Rice, who played for Max and alongside Brent — the only father-son combination on NHS’ Wall of Fame — in the middle 70s, has very clear memories of Marquardt’s coaching style.

“He was very strong-willed,” Rice said. “He was fair, very fair, but tough … His way of showing appreciation to you was through playing time.”

Brent saw it simply.

“If he wasn’t yelling at you, you knew that you weren’t worthy of the effort,” he said. “You weren’t qualified.”

That hard-nosed approach unveiled itself in the way the Tigers played under Marquardt’s direction, too. 

“He was very aggressive,” Rice said. “He taught a very aggressive form of screening and blocking out. He was a Tiger.”

Said Brent, “When the clock started ticking, we started pressing. We were pressing as soon as they came out of the locker room. We’d get after them.”

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