Poignancy may be the prevailing mood at the annual Dick Vitale Gala, but a little nostalgia always seems to get sprinkled in.
Consider USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory, who ran into a fairly prominent former college teammate — a dude named David Robinson — at Friday evening's event at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota.
Gregory spent the 1985-86 season at the U.S. Naval Academy, where Robinson was the low-post cornerstone. That season, the 7-footer who would come to be known as "The Admiral" led the Midshipmen to the Elite Eight.
"Well, we were kids at the time so I probably shouldn't say what I remember about him," Robinson, who would become a 10-time NBA All-Star and two-time world champion with the Spurs, said with a chuckle.
"Great guy. Loved basketball. He came into the Naval Academy and was just kind of a little basketball junkie, loved playing all the time. Super high energy. I only saw him really…just the one year, so I didn't see a ton of him, but he certainly showed a lot of promise, and he was a good kid."
Gregory transferred after that one season to Oakland (Mich.) University, where he would become a three-time all-conference pick. He recently completed his 15th season as a Division I head coach, leading USF (10-22) to its first season of double-digit victories in four years.
"I got a chance to spend some time with him, so it's funny now seeing him at this high level coaching," Robinson said. "He's had a good run."
In other USF hoops news, Gregory announced Saturday morning that veteran Division I assistant Larry Dixon has joined his staff. Dixon, who spent the past five seasons at Georgia Southern, replaces Chad Dollar, who joined new Georgia coach Tom Crean's staff.
A North Carolina native, Dixon also has served on staffs at Winthrop (2007-12) and East Carolina (2005-07).