Pat Wennihan never yelled. He was a gentle, mild-mannered man that liked to have fun. Above all, he was modest — except when it came to his deep jumpers in basketball.
“People always ask him, ‘What would your 3-point percentage be if they had 3-point shots back then?’” his son, Pat Wennihan Jr., recalled. “He goes, ‘What was my shooting percentage? Because all of my shots were 3-pointers. They were 25 feet and beyond.'”
Pat Wennihan, a Bakersfield community sports staple and Cal State Bakersfield’s second ever men’s basketball coach, died early Thursday morning. He was 76.
Wennihan had been on dialysis for about two years and was in poor health recently, including heart arrhythmias in the past few days, his son said. Pat Wennihan was scheduled to have a pacemaker put in in about a week.
Funeral arrangements have not been finalized but services are being planned for Hillcrest Memorial Park and Mortuary late next week, Pat Wennihan Jr. said.
Pat Wennihan coached CSUB from the 1975-76 season through the 1980-81 campaign. His best year was his first, when the Roadrunners went 23-5 and won their first California Collegiate Athletic Association title. CSUB made it to the NCAA Division II Regionals that year.
The Roadrunners went 83-77 under Pat Wennihan's guidance and he was named the D-II Region 6, 7, and 8 Coach of the Year in 1975-76.
“When you look at those early years it took somebody to establish a good, solid base and he certainly was part of that,” former CSUB athletic director Rudy Carvajal said. CSUB's first season came in 1971-72.
Pat Wennihan Jr. recalled being the ball boy for games at the Civic Auditorium. Not once did he hear his father scream at anyone. Some of the games had to be played at local high schools, Carvajal said.
The father and son would constantly play basketball related games such as Around the World in the backyard rather than take it too seriously. Pat Wennihan never missed any of Pat Wennihan Jr.’s games and attended nearly every practice.
Pat Wennihan originally moved to Bakersfield from Jennings, Kansas while in high school in 1953, according to a 1978 CSUB media guide. He played basketball for Bakersfield High School and helped Bakersfield College to two Metro Conference Championships in 1961 and 1962.
He finished his college career at Cal State Hayward — now called Cal State East Bay — and started coaching in 1964. Pat Wennihan spent time at North High School and Shafter High School before guiding Highland High School for four years as the varsity basketball and baseball coach.
He was an assistant for at least one year under CSUB’s first head coach, Jim Larson, before taking over in 1975.
Pat Wennihan stopped coaching for the most part once he left CSUB, Pat Wennihan Jr. said. A doctor was concerned about Pat Wennihan’s blood pressure if he kept coaching.
Even recently, though, his confidence in his deep shot never waivered. Pat Wennihan placed himself above the likes of NBA star and 3-point record holder Stephen Curry.
“A couple guys will ask him about Steph Curry with the Warriors,'" Pat Wennihan Jr. said, "and he said, ‘Eh, I always go deeper than that.’”