Former Washington State University basketball coach George Raveling once described Craig Ehlo (’86 Soc. Sci.) as “playing on the ragged edge of being out of control.” In other words, Ehlo made things happen. His full-speed-ahead approach on the court produced some turnovers, but also a host of steals resulting in easy baskets for the Washington State basketball team.
The former Cougar star was one of 10 inaugural basketball inductees into the Pacific-10 Conference Hall of Honor. The ceremony was held during the Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Staples Arena in Los Angeles in March.
Other inductees included coaching greats John Wooden (UCLA) and Pete Newell (Cal). They were joined by former players Sean Elliott (Arizona), Byron Scott (Arizona State), John Dick (lone survivor of Oregon’s 1939 NCAA championship team), Gary Payton (Oregon State), Bill Sharman (USC), Hank Luisetti (Stanford), and Bob Houbregs (Washington).
Ehlo led WSU to its last NCAA tournament victory, a 62-52 win over Weber State, in 1983. The Cougars were eliminated by Virginia, 54-49, and its 7-foot-4 center, Ralph Sampson. WSU finished 23-7.
As a senior, Ehlo averaged 12 points in the Pac-10. His 136 assists established a then WSU season record for conference games. He ranks fifth on WSU’s single-season steals list, averaging two per game. In 1983, he was a third-round NBA draft pick by the Houston Rockets and played professionally for 14 years.
The transplanted Texan now lives in Spokane, where he has coached the John Rogers High School boys’ varsity basketball team for three seasons.
He remembers Raveling as “a unique person” . . . one who made everyday a wonderful experience. He was always doing something different.” For example, he subscribed to nearly every major newspaper in the country as part of his recruiting strategy.
“He had the newspapers delivered to practice and read us [non-sports] stories out of The New York Times or The Washington Post. He wanted us to know something more than basketball,” Ehlo says.
He credits Joe Michalka, his old high school coach in Lubbock, for being a role model.
“Deep down, playing basketball at all levels during the years, I thought I would like to coach at this [high school] level because of the influence you can have on these guys,” he says.
“I try to take simple principles–sports principles like hard work, discipline, and dedication–and have my players relate them to everyday life.”
Ehlo and Jani Webb Ehlo (’83 Speech) are parents of three children—Erica, 13, Austin, 10, and Gavin, 5. In addition to coaching, Ehlo says he enjoys taking care of the kids, freeing up time for his wife. With the two older children in school, he spends a lot of “quality time” with Gavin.
Jani’s late father, Ron Webb, pitched for the WSU baseball team in the late ’50s. Her brothers, Steve (first base) and Stan (pitcher), also played for the Cougars.
It should come as no surprise then that the young Ehlos have taken to sports.
“My daughter loves volleyball and is very good at it,” Craig says. And both of his sons “love to shoot” the basketball.
Just as their dad did.