Jack Bruen stalked the Colgate sidelines like a bear for nine seasons, his feisty and animated style endearing him as one of the school's most admired and successful coaches.
Not even his battle with pancreatic cancer could sideline him.
On Friday, six days after coaching his Red Raiders to a final basketball victory, Bruen died at home, surrounded by his wife and children. He was 48.
"Knowing Jack, his idea of a happy death would be a solid lead in basketball game," said Morgan Wootten, the eminent Maryland high school coach who first hired Bruen as an assistant in 1972 and opened the door to his career.
"That was his love and his life. There was none better than Jack Bruen," said Wootten. "Just a magnificent human being."
Before Bruen's arrival, Colgate had endured 14 straight losing seasons. Bruen led the Red Raiders to their first NCAA tournaments in 1995 and 1996 while compiling a 109-124 record.
His 1992-93 squad won a school record 18 games and he twice was named the league's coach of the year. His biggest star, Adonal Foyle, was picked No. 8 overall by Golden State in last year's NBA draft.
To mark Bruen's passing, the school canceled its women's basketball game at home Friday night against Cornell and the men's game today at Harvard.
The team, now being run by assistant Paul Aiello, will attend Bruen's funeral, tentatively planned for Monday, then play at Seton Hall that night. Its next home game is Dec. 28 against Canisius, which has defeated Colgate each of the last four years.
A moment of silence is expected to be observed tonight in Marine Midland Arena prior to the Canisius-Providence game in honor of Bruen. At the Meadowlands on Friday night, a moment of silence was held prior to the start of the Jimmy V Classic, an event held to raise money for cancer research.
"I was very impressed with them every time I scouted them as an assistant," said Canisius coach Mike MacDonald. "He was emotional and let guys play and they got better.
"People remember where Colgate was (a perennial cellar-dweller in the 80s while with Canisius and Niagara in the North Atlantic Conference) and he turned it around and made it difficult to go play there."
Bruen was diagnosed in late October but continued coaching. Half of pancreatic cancer patients die within six weeks of diagnosis.
He attended his last practice Tuesday, his once-hulking frame diminished by chemotherapy. He coached his final game Saturday at home -- a win against Marist.
"He went out a winner in more ways than one," said Bob Cornell, Colgate's sports information director. "It was an intimate game. A lot of his former players came back. . . . I think everybody pretty much realized the chances were that it was probably going to be his last game. He showed tremendous courage right to the very, very end."
A Manhattan native, Bruen played point guard at Power Memorial High School alongside Lew Alcindor. Before arriving at Colgate in 1989, Bruen coached seven seasons at Catholic University, where he was 110-72.
Bruen is survived by his wife, Joan; an 8-year-old son, Danny; and a daughter, Kristen, who is a Virginia Tech senior.