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Family: Tarkanian ‘doing a lot better’ in hospital

    FILE - In this April 11, 2011, file photo, former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian listens during a news conference in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that former Tarkanian is hospitalized and recovering from a "mild heart attack." Tarkanian's daughter, Jodie Diamant, told the newspaper that her 81-year-old father was alert and joking after being moved into intensive care. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

LAS VEGAS >> Former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian’s condition has improved considerably since he suffered a mild heart attack last week, family members said Sunday.

Son Danny Tarkanian said his 81-year-old father has been moved from the intensive care unit to a regular room at Mountainview Hospital because he’s “doing a lot better.”

The former coach’s heart attack Tuesday involved a small artery, he said, and it was a minor problem that was dealt with immediately.

But he said his father’s lungs had been a bigger concern, and it has since been determined he was having trouble breathing because of bronchitis.

“He wasn’t getting enough air into his lungs, but they have the problem under control,” Danny Tarkanian told The Associated Press. “We’re hoping he’ll be out of the hospital in another day or two.”

The family was relieved that Tarkanian did not have pneumonia, which could have been serious for someone his age, he said.

His father still hopes to take up Kentucky coach John Calipari’s offer of a couple of Final Four tickets in New Orleans next week, Danny Tarkanian said.

Tarkanian coached the Runnin’ Rebels from 1973 through 1992, taking his team to back-to-back Final Fours and winning the school’s first national championship in 1990. He finished with a 509-105 record at the school.

Tarkanian, nicknamed “Tark the Shark,” also coached at Long Beach State and Fresno State.

He was known during his career as much for his wins on the court as for his colorful personality and clashes off the court with NCAA and school administrators.

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