Basketball's Week

April 03, 1961

After 14 weeks of competition, closing with an ugly scandal that threatened to spread to some of the nation's leading teams, the 1961 college basketball season ended in a rush of excitement. Cincinnati's streaking Bearcats successfully disposed of the notion that they were nothing without Oscar Robertson, trimmed Utah 82-67 and shocked mighty Ohio State 70-65 in overtime to win the NCAA championship at Kansas City (see page 18). Hustling Providence beat St. Louis 62-59 for the NIT title in New York.

THE NIT

Late last Saturday afternoon, Providence Coach Joe Mullaney, haggard and emotionally drained, embraced his assistant coach, trainer and every Friar player he could reach, then walked wearily but happily to mid-court in New York's Madison Square Garden to accept the NIT championship trophy. Even this standard procedure was greeted with a roaring cheer from the most exuberant and vocal band of rooters ever to invade the Garden.

That's the way it was all week. Three times the speedy Friars, urged on by supporters who kept the arena rocking with noise and song, had come scrambling from behind to win. Jazzed up by 5-foot-8 Vinny Ernst, a snub-nosed, puckish peewee with a lust for hustle, and John Egan, an exciting dribbler, driver and shotmaker, whose daring often led to costly errors, Providence seemed to take delight in tantalizing its opponents with a brief letdown and then overpowering them with a late rush.

Niagara thought it had the Friars trapped in their own carelessness when it led 36-28 at half time. But Egan, restrained by tenacious Al Butler in the first half, skillfully maneuvered his tormentor into screens and began to hit with jumpers and drives. He wound up with 23 points to go with 15 each by Ernst and 6-foot-10 Jimmy Hadnot, and Providence won 71-68.

Holy Cross, with a fine pop-shooter in skinny Jack Foley, but lacking the height to annoy big Hadnot, almost had Providence on the run. Trailing by eight points with 1:44 left, the Crusaders rushed in three quick field goals and four fouls, and suddenly the score was tied, 75-75. Ernst, fouled at the buzzer, missed his free throw, but he scored eight points in the subsequent overtime, passed off to Egan for four more, and the plucky Friars won again, 90-83.

Meanwhile, competent St. Louis, defending superbly and attacking carefully, methodically beat Dayton 67-60 in the other semifinal. The Flyers, who had squeaked by Temple 62-60 two nights earlier, made the mistake of trying to break through the middle against the Billikens' taut man-to-man defense. While Gordon Hartweger maintained a tight rein on Dayton's Gary Roggenburk, the other Bills batted the ball away, forced the Flyers into many mistakes and then outshot them at the other end of the court.

In the final, played before 15,673, St. Louis slowed down Providence's usually scrambling offense but had trouble piercing the Friars' shifting zone defense. However, Tom Kieffer and husky Bill Nordmann got through often enough to give the Billikens a seven-point lead with 10 minutes to play. Then, while the Friar boosters (aided by sympathetic Holy Cross fans at the other end of the arena) chanted, "Go, Friars, Go," to the rhythm of a bass drum, Providence began to move. George Zalucki, Tim Moynahan and Egan soon pulled the Friars into a 49-49 tie. Egan found the range with his jumpers, Ernst (chosen later as the Most Valuable Player) harried the St. Louisans with his ball-stealing, Hadnot stuffed in two quick baskets and two free throws and, almost before the startled Billikens knew it, Providence had the ball game 62-59 and the championship.

THE PROS

While the embryonic American Basketball League bravely announced plans to begin play with eight teams next fall, the NBA was still weaving tortuously through its extended playoffs amid brawls and angry words.

However, Boston's Eastern leaders, after surviving a player-fan fight in Syracuse, moved a full step ahead of the Western Division. The Nats, hopeful after beating the Celtics 115-98 at Syracuse, soon discovered that Boston was as tough as ever. The Celtics won the next two 133-110 and 120-107 and, with the Eastern title in sight, went all out in the fifth game at Boston. The pesky Nats managed to stay close for a while—in spite of Big Bill Russell's magnificent shot-blocking and rebounding (he got 33). But oldtimers Bill Sharman and Frank Ramsey let loose with a last-quarter burst of points, and Syracuse succumbed 123-101 to give Boston the series, 4 games to 1, and a spot in the final playoff.

In the West, first-place St. Louis and Los Angeles were all tied up after four games. The Lakers won the first, 122-118, as Elgin Baylor scored 44 points. In the second game St. Louis fans were at their raucous worst. Stirred up by a bitter exchange between Owner Ben Kerner and Referee Sid Borgia, they doused Laker Jim Krebs with beer, and he retaliated with his fists. When the rioting was stopped the Hawk front line (Bob Pettit, Clyde Lovellette and Cliff Hagan) did some pouring of its own, drowned the Lakers with 66 points, and St. Louis won 121-106. The two teams then moved on to Los Angeles, where the Lakers won 118-112. But Saturday night the Hawks pulled themselves together behind Pettit's 40 points, won 118-117 to even the series at 2-2 when Si Green and rookie Len Wilkens scored five points in the last minute.

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THE NATION'S LEADERS
(NCAA Statistics)

SCORING

G.

FG

FT

PTS.

AVG.

1. Burgess, Gonzaga

26

304

234

842

32.4

2. Chilton, E. Tennessee

24

295

181

771

32.1

3. Stith, St. Bonaventure

28

327

176

830

29.6

4. Dischinger, Purdue

23

215

218

648

28.2

5. McGill, Utah

31

343

178

864

27.9

FIELD GOALS

G.

FGA

FGM

PCT.

1. Lucas, Ohio State

27

411

256

.623

2. Gunter, Seton Hall

24

325

200

.615

3. Youngkin, Duke

28

253

146

.577

4. Dischinger, Purdue

23

373

215

.576

5. Lundy, Lafayette

24

303

174

.574

FREE THROWS

G.

FTA

FTM

PCT.

1. Sherard, Army

24

154

135

.877

2. Carl, DePaul

25

184

161

.875

3. Kaiser, Georgia Tech

26

203

176

.867

4. Thompson, Morehead St.

30

208

180

.865

5. Carlton, Arkansas

23

117

101

.863

REBOUNDING

G.

REB.

AVG.

1. DeBusschere, Detroit

27

514

19.0

2. Thurmond, Bowling Green

24

449

18.7

3. Bellamy, Indiana

24

428

17.8

4. Cohen, William & Mary

24

424

17.7

5. Lucas, Ohio State

27

470

17.4

TEAM OFFENSE

G.

PTS.

AVG.

1. St. Bonaventure

28

2,479

88.5

2. Loyola (Ill.)

23

1,989

86.5

3. West Virginia

27

2,325

86.1

4. Virginia Tech

22

1,874

85.2

5. Ohio State

28

2,383

85.1

TEAM DEFENSE

G.

PTS.

AVG.

1. Santa Clara

27

1,314

48.7

2. San Jose State

25

1,254

50.2

3. San Francisco

27

1,383

51.2

4. California

22

1,192

54.2

5. Portland

25

1,415

56.6

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)