A member of the Towson University Athletics Hall of Fame, he was the Tigers’ head basketball coach from 1983 to 1997. During that time, he guided a very young Division I program and molded it into a very strong mid-major program.
During his 14 seasons as the Tigers’ head coach, he led Towson to seven winning records, three conference tournament championships and four conference regular season titles. Over his final 11 seasons, the Tigers were 177-143. Honored as the East Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1991, he was named as the Big South Conference Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1994.
In 1990, he guided Towson to its first NCAA Tournament appearance. The Tigers won the ECC championship with a 73-60 victory over Lehigh before a packed Towson Center and a national audience on ESPN. In their first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Tigers were paired with No. 1-ranked Oklahoma. The Tigers nearly pulled off a major upset and trailed by only two points in the final minutes before the Sooners pulled out a 77-68 win.
Despite the loss of four starters to graduation, the Tigers won their second straight ECC championship in 1991 with a win over Rider in the ECC championship game. For the second year in a row, Towson faced one of the top teams in the nation, Ohio State, in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State pulled out a 97-86 win.
In 1992, Towson became the first team in ECC history to win three consecutive championships when the Tigers beat Hofstra in the ECC finals. The following season, the ECC disbanded and Towson moved to the Big South Conference, where the Tigers won two conference regular season championships.
During his years as the Towson coach, Truax developed a reputation for leading his teams to upset wins over highly regarded opponents. In the 1993 Preseason NIT, he coached Towson to a 66-65 win at St. John’s. He also coached the Tigers to a win over West Virginia. In 2005, his Tigers shocked Louisville, 81-68.
A native of Hancock, Maryland, Coach Truax was a 1968 graduate of the University of Maryland. During his years in College Park, he played basketball for Coach Bud Millikin and was teammates with Gary Williams, the Terps’ Hall of Fame coach.
After graduation, he accepted a position at DeMatha Catholic High School where he served as the junior varsity basketball coach for Morgan Wootten. In two years at DeMatha, he helped the Stags win 50 straight games, and he coached NBA Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley.
After two years at DeMatha, he joined Coach Dean Smith’s program at the University of North Carolina. During a season at UNC, he helped the Tar Heels win the NIT championship while earning his master’s degree. From there, he spent almost 12 years as an assistant coach at Virginia, Florida, Colorado and Mississippi State.
After leaving Towson, he coached in Korea for one year and spent two seasons coaching the Baltimore Bay Runners of the United States Basketball League. He also served as the coach and athletic director at Yeshivat Rambam, a Jewish school in Baltimore. Truax coached at Hagerstown Junior College for one season and spent a year as the coach of the Birmingham Crusaders of the United States Basketball Association.
Most recently, he was an English teacher and basketball coach at Patterson School in Lenoir, North Carolina.
He was predeceased by his wife, Pam, in 2012. He is survived by his son Scott and daughter-in-law Deborah, his son Brad, and his daughter, Ann.
Obituary courtesy: Dan O’Connell