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At a Glance
NCAA Champion--Cincinnati (27-3; coached by Ed Jucker/first of five seasons with Bearcats; won Missouri Valley title with a 10-2 record, which was one game ahead of Bradley).
NIT Champion--Providence (24-5; coached by Joe Mullaney/sixth of 18 seasons with Friars).
NCAA Probation--Auburn, Indiana, Kansas, Loyola (La.), Montana State, North Carolina.
NCAA Consensus First-Team All-Americans--Terry Dischinger, F-C, Jr., Purdue (28.2 ppg, 13.4 rpg, 57.6 FG%, 83.5 FT%); Roger Kaiser, G, Sr., Georgia Tech (23.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 86.7 FT%); Jerry Lucas, C, Jr., Ohio State (24.9 ppg, 17.4 rpg, 62.3 FG%); Tom Stith, F, Sr., St. Bonaventure (29.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 52.6 FG%); Chet Walker, F, Jr., Bradley (25.2 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 56.3 FG%).
National Player of the Year--Lucas (AP/UPI/USBWA).
National Coach of the Year--Fred Taylor, Ohio State (27-1/UPI, USBWA).
Scandal reared its ugly head again. The only player to score 40 or more points in a Final Four contest and not eventually play in the NBA was St. Joseph's forward Jack Egan, who scored a tourney-high 42 points in a four-overtime, 127-120 triumph against Utah in the national third-place game. Egan became a third-round draft choice of Philadelphia but forfeited the opportunity to play in the pros when he was implicated in a game-fixing scandal. Egan, who scored a school-record 47 points at Gettysburg earlier in the season (mark subsequently tied), was susceptible to such shenanigans inasmuch as he was the father of two children and his wife had suffered a miscarriage just before the campaign started. Teammate Harry Booth, who averaged 3.1 ppg, went on to coach the Hawks for four seasons from 1974-75 through 1977-78.
North Carolina State forward Don Gallagher was also an ideal target for gamblers' enticements, given his poor-class family background and the fact he was a married man struggling to make ends meet. After his life was threatened by underworld figures, Gallagher was pressured into enlisting three teammates to help alter the outcomes of games (Brooklyn natives Anton Muehlbauer and Stan Niewierowski and Louisville product Terry Litchfield).
A total of 37 players from 22 schools, including legendary Brooklyn playground heroes Roger Brown and Connie Hawkins, who spent their freshman years at Dayton and Iowa, respectively, were implicated in point-shaving transgressions. While in high school, Brown and Hawkins reportedly associated with gambler Jack Molinas, who bought them a few meals and let them use his automobile.
"We just knew him from the playgrounds," Brown recalled. "How did we know he was a gambler? People don't just walk up to you and say, `Hi, I'm a known gambler.' We had no reason to question him because he was a practicing attorney."
Brown and Hawkins were banned from the NBA, but the ban was later rescinded and their "blackball" suit against the NBA was settled out of court. "They found me guilty without even a trial," Brown said sharply. "I was led to believe that's not the way it's done in the United States."
Indiana's Walt Bellamy set a Big Ten Conference mark with a school-record 33 rebounds in a game against Michigan when the Hoosiers (95) and the Wolverines (57) combined for an NCAA-record 152 rebounds (see accompanying box score). . . . Bowling Green's Nate Thurmond established a Mid-American Conference single-season standard by averaging 18.7 rebounds per game.
Gonzaga's Frank Burgess, an Air Force veteran, closed his season with a 37-point outburst to win the scoring title with a 32.38 average, edging East Tennessee State's Tom Chilton, who was second with a 32.13 average. Burgess (against UC Davis), Chilton (Austin Peay) and Purdue's Terry Dischinger (Michigan State) tied for the national high in scoring with 52 points. The outbursts for Burgess and Chilton were school records. . . . Burgess, Chilton, Pacific's Ken Stanley (24 ppg) and Bucknell's Joe Steiner (22) set school records for highest scoring average in a single season. Chilton's average is the highest in Ohio Valley Conference history.
William & Mary's Jeff Cohen (49 points vs. Richmond), Missouri's Joe Scott (46 vs. Nebraska) and Tulane's Jim Kerwin (45 vs. Southeastern Louisiana) set school single-game scoring records. . . . Oklahoma State didn't finish among the top three in national defense rankings for the first time in 26 years. The top four defensive teams all were from the San Francisco Bay Area--Santa Clara (48.7), San Jose State (50.3), San Francisco (51.4) and California (54.2).
Tom Meschery, the West Coast Athletic Conference player of the year, finished his career as St. Mary's all-time leading rebounder. Meschery was born in China in 1938, and placed in a Japanese concentration camp at the beginning of World War II. His father was a white Russian military officer and his mother an employee at the American Consulate in China. The Meschery family was reunited after the war in San Francisco by the Christian Brothers priests. "I went into basketball because it was the fastest way to become accepted," Meschery said. "I was a foreign kid who didn't speak English very well. One of the best ways to be accepted by your playmates is to be good as an athlete."
Sylvester Blye, a 6-5, 220-pound sophomore forward, collected 23 points and 11 rebounds for Seattle in his debut and farewell game, an 86-81 loss to Memphis State. The following day it was discovered that he had played briefly the previous season with the New York Clowns, a touring pro team, and Blye was declared ineligible for further college competition.
Manhattan, coached by Ken Norton, compiled its first losing record (8-11) in 25 competitive seasons (did not field teams in 1943-44 and 1944-45 because of World War II). . . . Forward Ernie Davis led Syracuse in rebounding average (9.6 per game). The next school year, the halfback earned football's Heisman Trophy. Also, future NFL Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey played in six basketball games for the Orangemen. . . . Connecticut's streak of consecutive winning seasons ended at 15 when the Huskies lost their last five games to finish with an 11-13 mark. They suffered their only defeat to New Hampshire in a 50-game stretch of their series from 1939 through 1968. . . . Rutgers (11-10) registered its first winning record in 12 seasons. . . . Seton Hall (15-9) defeated Final Four-bound Cincinnati and St. Joseph's in a three-week span the first month of the season while St. Bonaventure (24-4) beat Final Four-bound St. Joe's and Utah in back-to-back outings. . . . Seton Hall coach Richard Regan won all five of his games against eventual Big East Conference members in his first season with the Pirates before going 7-38 in that category in his last nine years through 1969-70.
St. Bonaventure finished among the Top 20 in a final national poll for the fourth straight season. The Bonnies' 99-game homecourt winning streak, which started in 1948, was snapped by Niagara, 87-77, when the Purple Eagles shot 70 percent from the floor in the second half. Elsewhere, Drake stopped Bradley's 46-game homecourt winning streak, 86-76, and Mississippi State ended Auburn's 36-game homecourt winning streak, 56-48. . . . Lehigh lost 34 consecutive games in its series with Lafayette until edging the Leopards, 60-58. VMI lost 32 straight games to Virginia until defeating the Cavaliers, 75-63. . . . Providence defeated St. Louis in the NIT final, 62-59. It was the third consecutive year for the Friars to beat SLU in the NIT. . . . Bob Mlkvy, Penn's leading scorer and rebounder for the second straight season, is a younger brother of Temple All-American Bill Mlkvy, who led the nation in scoring in 1950-51. . . . Holy Cross finished in a final Top 20 poll for the eighth time in 12 years. . . . Bill Connors, who averaged 6 ppg for Syracuse, went on to become a reliever for the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets later in the decade.
Louisiana State posted a losing record (11-14), but the Tigers managed their lone victory over Kentucky (73-59) in the first 36 games of their series from 1933 to 1972. . . . Kentucky (19-9), coached by Adolph Rupp, incurred four two-point defeats in a nine-game, mid-season span. . . . Georgia Tech All-American guard Roger Kaiser went on to capture four NAIA Tournament championships as coach for West Georgia (1974) and Life (1997, 1999 and 2000). . . . The Citadel's Keith Stowers set a school single-game record by grabbing 23 rebounds against Richmond. . . . George Washington ended West Virginia's streak of six consecutive Southern Conference Tournament championships. GWU entered the tourney with a 6-16 record. Jon Feldman, 5-10, scored 45 points for the Colonials in the championship game against William & Mary. . . . Wayne Yates, the leading scorer (17.5 ppg) and rebounder (14.4 rpg) for Memphis State's NIT team, went on to coach his alma mater in the 1976 NCAA Tournament. . . . North Carolina's Doug Moe, an All-ACC first-team selection after averaging 20.4 ppg and 14 rpg, eventually coached the NBA's San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets. . . . The Ohio Valley Conference supplied six of the top 22 free-throw shooters in the country (minimum of 100 successful foul shots).
Illinois, coached by Harry Combes, dropped seven of its last eight games to finish with a losing record (9-15) for the first time in 33 seasons. Jerry Colangelo, who went on to become an executive with several pro sports franchises in Phoenix, led the Illini in field-goal percentage (128 of 279, .459). Among Colangelo's colleagues the previous year at Illinois were guard Mannie Jackson, who became a Honeywell executive and owner of the Harlem Globetrotters, and team manager Dennis Swanson, who became president of ABC Sports. . . . Bobby Bell became the first African American to play basketball for Minnesota when he appeared in three games. Two school years later, Bell won the Outland Award as the nation's outstanding interior lineman and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Terry Baker and Jerry Stovall. . . . St. Louis finished in a wire-service final Top 20 poll for the 10th time since the inception of national rankings in 1948-49. Kentucky (11) was the only school at that point to have more final Top 20 rankings than the Billikens. Prominent institutions such as Arkansas, Georgetown, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Purdue and Syracuse had yet to reach that lofty status. . . . Dayton finished in a wire-service final Top 20 poll for the ninth time in the last 11 years under coach Tom Blackburn.
Oklahoma's George Kernek, who averaged 5.3 ppg and 2.7 rpg, went on to hit .259 in 30 games as a first baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965 and 1966. . . . Junior Moe Iba, who led Oklahoma State in free-throw shooting (92.6 percent), eventually coached Big Eight Conference rival Nebraska to the NCAA Tournament. . . . Wichita State's Gene Wiley set a Missouri Valley Conference record by blocking 15 shots against Purdue. . . . Creighton's Dick Hartmann, one of the nation's top rebounders the previous year with 15.1 per game, died in a traffic accident prior to the start of his senior campaign. . . . Pat Foster, an All-SWC second-team selection who led Arkansas in scoring with 15.4 points per game, went on to coach in the Southwest Conference for Houston. . . . Texas (14-10), coached by Harold Bradley, had half of its games decided by fewer than six points. . . . Colorado State lost to Regis (Colo.) for the fifth straight season. . . . Sophomore Nolan Richardson, Texas Western's leading scorer with 21 ppg, eventually coached Tulsa to an NIT title in 1981 and Arkansas to an NCAA championship in 1994.
Southern California captured its last outright conference crown of the 20th Century. . . . California center Stan Morrison, who averaged 10.8 points per game, went on to become one of fewer than 25 coaches in history to direct three different schools to the NCAA playoffs (Pacific, Southern California and San Jose State). . . . Ron Abegglen, who averaged 5.9 ppg for Brigham Young, went on to coach Weber State to the NCAA playoffs in 1995 and 1999.
1961 NCAA Tournament
Summary: Paul Hogue, a 6-9 center who hit just 51.8 percent of his free-throw attempts during the season, sank only two of 10 foul shots in his two previous games before putting Cincinnati ahead to stay with a pair of pivotal free throws in overtime in a 70-65 championship game victory. Ohio State, undefeated entering the tourney, lost the national final against Cincinnati after almost getting upset in its opening playoff game at Louisville.
Outcome for Defending Champion: Ohio State overcame a five-point deficit with less than three minutes remaining to escape with a 56-55 triumph at Louisville in the Mideast Regional semifinals when Cardinals star John Turner missed the tying free throw with one second remaining. The closest the Buckeyes came to a setback during the regular season were games against St. Bonaventure (84-82 in holiday tournament at Madison Square Garden) and at Iowa (62-61).
Star Gazing: Three-time unanimous first-team All-American Jerry Lucas registered game highs of 27 points and 12 rebounds for the Buckeyes in the championship contest while teammate John Havlicek was limited to four points. Lucas outrebounded Kentucky by himself when he retrieved a tourney-high 30 missed shots in an 87-74 triumph over the Wildcats in the Mideast Regional final. . . . St. Joseph's reserve Paul Westhead, appearing in the playoffs for the second straight year, went on to coach La Salle and Loyola Marymount in the tourney. . . . Boston College transfer Kevin Loughery scored 12 points for St. John's in its 97-74 setback against Wake Forest in the East Regional. Loughery eventually became a longtime coach in the ABA and NBA.
Biggest Upset: Tom Stith's 29 points weren't enough to keep third-ranked St. Bonaventure from bowing to Wake Forest, 78-73, in the East Regional semifinals.
One and Only: Guard Carl Bouldin became the only athlete to lead his championship team in scoring at the Final Four and play major league baseball in the same year. He helped Cincinnati win the NCAA title with a total of 37 points in two games at Kansas City before pitching in two games later that year for the Washington Senators. . . . Rhode Island's Ernie Calverley became the only individual to coach a team in the playoffs after leading the nation in scoring as a player (26.7 points per game for Rhode Island in 1943-44).
Celebrity Status: Mac Percival, who later led the NFL with 25 field goals for the Chicago Bears in 1968 when he tied for third place in scoring with 100 points, collected six points and a team-high nine rebounds for Texas Tech in a Midwest Regional semifinal loss against champion-to-be Cincinnati.
Numbers Game: St. Joseph's Jack Ramsay subsequently became the only coach to win an NBA championship (Portland Trail Blazers '77) after directing a college squad to the Final Four. . . . Wake Forest, coached by Bones McKinney, became the only team ever to trail by as many as 10 points at halftime of a tournament game (46-36) and then win the contest by more than 20. The Demon Deacons were behind at intermission (46-36) in the first round of the East Regional before rallying to defeat St. John's (97-74). St. John's, coached by Joe Lapchick, was making its lone NCAA playoff appearance in a 14-year stretch from 1953 through 1966. It was the only game Lapchick ever coached in the NCAA playoffs.
What Might Have Been: ACC regular-season champion North Carolina, which defeated NCAA representative Wake Forest twice by a total of 24 points, was ineligible for postseason competition because of an NCAA probation. The Tar Heels didn't participate in the ACC Tournament in order to prevent of possibility of the league being shut out of the NCAA playoffs. . . . Utah, coming off a 26-3 season and with twin towers Billy "The Hill" McGill and Allen Holmes slated to return, was a strong candidate to win it all. The Utes reached the Final Four although Holmes, the 1959 NJCAA Tournament MVP, didn't play after nearly losing his right leg in a summer auto accident. . . . St. Louis finished in a tie for third place in the Missouri Valley after losing All-MVC first-team center Bob "Bevo" Nordmann because of a severe knee injury. The Billikens, who defeated NCAA champion-to-be Cincinnati by 17 points (57-40), lost the NIT final to Providence.
Putting Things in Perspective: Cincinnati lost three times by a total of 44 points in a five-game stretch early in the season, including the Bearcats' first two Missouri Valley Conference contests--at Seton Hall (8-point margin), at St. Louis (17), and at Bradley (19). The highest single-game scoring output by an individual opponent against Cincinnati was 30 points by Houston's Ted Luckenbill.
Scoring Leader: Billy McGill, Utah (119 points, 29.75 ppg).
Rebounding Leader: Jerry Lucas, Ohio State (73 rebounds, 18.3 rpg).
Carl Bouldin, G, Sr., Cincinnati (37 points, seven rebounds in final two games)
John Egan, F, Sr., St. Joseph's (50 points, 21 rebounds)
*Jerry Lucas, C, Jr., Ohio State (56 points, 25 rebounds)
Larry Siegfried, G, Sr., Ohio State (35 points, 12 rebounds)
Bob Wiesenhahn, F, Sr., Cincinnati (31 points, 14 rebounds)
*Named Most Outstanding Player.
Championship Team Results
Regional Semifinal: Cincinnati 78 (Hogue team-high 24 points), Texas Tech 55 (Hudgens 26)
Regional Final: Cincinnati 69 (Wiesenhahn 22), Kansas State 64 (Comley 16)
National Semifinal: Cincinnati 82 (Bouldin 21), Utah 67 (McGill 25)
Championship Game: Cincinnati 70 (Wiesenhahn 17), Ohio State 65 (Lucas 27)*