By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Lewis Orr spent Wednesday afternoon at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C., observing yet another Sweet 16 basketball practice for the Marquette Golden Eagles.
This is becoming a spring ritual for Navarro College’s legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach, five years after retiring as the Runnin’ Bulldogs coach.
Orr continues in his role as consultant for Marquette basketball, working closely with Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams, who goes back 23 years with his mentor.
If you haven’t heard the story, it’s a great one — Williams has risen from student assistant at Navarro in 1990 to one of the nation’s top college basketball coaches.
The Golden Eagles are in their third consecutive Sweet 16 and will play Miami, Fla. at 6:15 p.m. Thursday night on CBS Ch. 11. Miami (29-6) is the No. 2 seed in the East Region while Marquette (25-8) is the No. 3 seed.
Orr has been along for the ride for all five seasons that Williams had guided the Golden Eagles. This has been another whirlwind month of March with the Big East Tournament in New York City, last week’s second and third round games in Lexington, Ken. and now in the nation’s capitol for Marquette’s regional semifinal game against the Hurricanes.
Orr agreed to be a consultant for Williams at Marquette after he completed his final season at Navarro in 2008, handing over the job to Johnny Estelle.
It has served as a second wind in coaching, Orr’s wife Carol said.
“This was God’s blessing for him,” said Carol, who is also in D.C. and was touring the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Smithsonian on Wednesday.
“Without a team to be a part of, he wouldn’t be the same person,” Carol said. “This was in his blood. He said when he retired, ‘I know it’s my time to retire and I know I need to do it for Johnny’s sake.’
And I said, ‘we’ll figure it out.’ And the next day Buzz shows up. It’s been a real blessing for our family.”
This has been a special March. Four of the Orr’s six grandchildren — Noah, Samuel and Gabe Gilfillan and Trevor Denbow — were able to spend spring break at the Big East Tournament.
Being able to experience Marquette’s success with their family has made it even more special.
“When Buzz started asking five years ago if our family would be willing to give (Lewis) up, we told him, ‘you have to do this.’” Carol said. “It’s Marquette.”
Marquette has been clutch at the end of its two tournament games, winning by a combined total of three points. The Golden Eagles’ latest win was a 74-72 comeback victory over tournament darling Butler on Saturday night.
“There’s been more excitement about this one maybe because there wasn’t as much expectations for this team,” Carol said. “They are not as talented as the other ones. But they are so close and they support each other so well. They are very unselfish.”