Memphis Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Larry Finch

Memphis Tigers Basketball

Don't miss the University of Memphis Men's Basketball team in action at the FedEx Forum. Photo by Bob Hazlett.

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Memphis Sports Hall of Fame

Larry Finch was a player (1969-73) and coach (1979-97) for the University of Memphis men's basketball team. He is perhaps most famous for leading the Tigers to the NCAA men's basketball championship game in 1973 against the UCLA Bruins and star Bill Walton.

Finch was born in Memphis and played basketball for Melrose High School. 

In his senior year, Finch led the team to the Final Four. But in the championship game, Finch’s 29 points were no match for John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins. Finch graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Memphis history, and is currently the second all-time leading scorer for the University. 

In 1973, Finch was drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Lakers, but instead opted to join the local American Basketball Association team, the Memphis Tams. Finch played professionally for two years. 

"Larry Finch is one of the two most important figures in the City of Memphis' history, along with Elvis Presley.” - Current University of Memphis Head Coach, Josh Pastner

In 1986, Finch was named head coach at the University of Memphis (at the time Memphis State). During his tenure, Finch had seven 20+ win season and six NCAA tournament appearances. He was responsible for recruiting and developing players like Penny Hardaway, Lorenzen Wright and Elliot Perry. In 1992, his team went to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. 

Finch left the university at the end of the 1996-97 season. His 220-130 record ranks as the school’s all-time winningest coach (a record that stands today). 

In 2002, Finch suffered a stroke. On April 2, 2011, Finch died after a long illness.