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Paying Tribute

September 13, 2002 Columns No Comments



Paying Tribute

by Jed Tai

As the nation takes the time to mark the anniversary and reflect back on one of the most tragic events in the country’s history, we here at Hoopville would like to do the same. The events of September 11, 2001 touched us all, and no segment of society was spared in the United States – including the world of college basketball. Many coaches were indirectly affected with the FAA’s shutdown of air travel during the week, stranded in various parts of the country during recruiting trips. But those delays were trivial compared to the 3000+ lives lost in tragedy, of which several had former connections to college basketball. Years later, we remember them with our tributes to those who passed away with hoops forever in their blood.

Terrance Aiken had a personality that was easy to remember. His love for the game of basketball and his energetic demeanor was infectious to all that knew him. The 6’3″ Aiken started his college career at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and had a successful two-year stint there. After a stint at Worcester State College in Massachusetts, his next move was to the College of Staten Island. The ultimate gymrat was an immediate hit in his one and only year at Staten Island in 1994-95, averaging 9 points and 3 rebounds.
He went on to play professional basketball overseas briefly in the Philippines before taking up an interest in computers. Aiken had just started working as a computer consultant with Vital Computer Services on the 97th floor of the Towers on September 4. He left behind a wife and three chidren, and his jersey at Staten Island has been retired. He was 30 years young.

John “Jay” Corcoran had a real passion for the sport of basketball. Growing up in Boylston, MA, he played hoops throughout his childhood and high school years, and continued doing so in college at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, from which he graduated in 1979. But while his statistics in college may not be well documented, his love for the game certainly was. A naturally humorous guy, Corcoran was a leader who not only kept his teammates loose but played with serious intensity on the court. And after his playing days, he kept close with the game by coaching and supporting youth leagues in his home of Norwell, Massachusetts. A merchant marine engineering officer, Corcoran was often on the road traveling to tours of duties overseas. He was a passenger on United Flight 175 headed to Los Angeles on September 11th. He was 44 years young.

Scott Davidson was a committed individual. Whether it was playing basketball, as a family man, or in the community, Davidson gave 100 percent each and every time out. On the court, he was a fierce competitor who not only scrapped on defense but also fought mercifully for rebounds despite his relative lack of height at 6’3″. A four-year letterman in high school at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School, Davidson moved on to the College of Staten Island, where he became the team captain his senior year in 1989-90, helping the Dolphins win 20 games
and capture the conference championship. Davidson graduated with a degree in history and obtained a teacher’s license, but his desire to serve others led him to pursue a career of firefighting, and he joined the Fire Department in 1994. Davidson still stayed close to the game, playing in various leagues and doing some coaching and refereeing on the side. He was working for Ladder Co. 118 in Brooklyn Heights, which was called into service after the second tower was struck. Davidson is survived by two children, and his jersey at Staten Island has been retired. He was 33 years young.

Tim Finnerty not only played the college game; he spent time coaching it as well. A crafty lefty, the 6’2″ Finnerty was a four-year letterman at Division III Scranton, and tasted success on the court when the Royals made it to the NCAA Finals in 1988. After graduating in 1990, he kept basketball in his blood, becoming a rising star as an assistant coach. After a graduate assistant stint at Fordham, he worked himself into the top assistant in charge of recruiting at Wagner. But the $7000 a year pay was not enough for Finnerty, and he eventually left the profession for Wall Street. But while he embarked on a new career, he would keep his love for basketball strong, volunteering to coach youth and AAU basketball in his native New Jersey. Eventually he would mirror his coaching career in the world of finance, becoming a rising star on Wall Street as well. He was a partner and senior broker with Cantor Fitzgerald. He was 33 years young.

Doug Gardner was known for his stunning smile and his hearty laugh. The consummate friend and teammate, Gardner was a multi-sport athlete, but may have had passion for basketball the most. At Haverford College, he joined the varsity basketball team as as senior in 1982-83, and while he was a bit player and undersized at 6’4″, he was never afraid to bang the boards under the basket. Gardner graduated with a BA in Economics from Haverford in 1983, and moved onto various finance jobs in corporate America before joining Cantor Fitzgerald, where he became the executive managing director. Despite his extremely busy schedule, Gardner still found time to give back to the community, serving as a Vice President for Student Athletes, Inc., an organization dedicated to the enrichment (educationally and athletically) of inner city children. The new integrated athletic center at Haverford will be named after him in his memory. He left behind a wife and two young children. He was 39 years young.

Calvin Gooding spent virtually all of his life in New York City, where his love of basketball was quite evident. Raised in Queens, Gooding was a standout player at Parker Collegiate Institute before moving on to Haverford College, where he played for four seasons. His most shining moments came as a senior, when the 5’11” point guard was not only a co-captain, but led the team in total points, assists, free goal and free throw percentage. Gooding graduated with his degree in political science in 1984 and moved onto a career on Wall Street.
Gooding joined Cantor Fitzgerald in the early 90’s and traded international equities, eventually moving his way up to partner. While he worked, Gooding still maintained connections to his old neighborhood, organizing basketball camps in the area. The basketball court at the new integrated athletic center at Haverford will be named after him in his memory. He is survived by his wife and two young daughters. He was 38 years young.

Tom Hannafin was one of those guys that was successful in everything that he did. Especially when it came to his family, his career, and sports. On the basketball floor, the 6’2″ Hannafin was a heady point guard who always played under control. A four-year varsity player at the College of Staten Island, Hannafin had his most success his senior year in 1986-87, when he not only averaged 12 points and seven rebounds, but also set a single season school record for steals. He finished his Dolphins career ninth all-time in career assists and tenth all-time in career steals. After graduation, Hannafin’s calling was the community, and he became a New York City firefighter, but the
game never left him, he excelled on the Fire Department Basketball Team which traveled to tournaments across the country. Early in 2001, Hannafin was a member of a gold medal-winning three-on-three hoops squad at the World/Police Fire Department Games in Indianapolis. He was serving with Ladder Co. 5 in Greenwich Village, which was called into action when Tower 1 was struck. Hannafin left behind a wife and two children, and his jersey at Staten Island has been retired. A YMCA Basketball League in West Brighton has also been named after him in his memory. He was 36 years young.

Farrell Lynch came from an athletic family. The oldest of four brothers, the Centerport, NY native set a precedence for his younger siblings with his accomplishments. After a three-year career at St. Pius X High School, the 6’2″ swingman started his college career at SUNY-Brockport, where he averaged 12.3 points as a sophomore in 1982-83. There at Brockport, Lynch befriended a teammate by the name of Jeff Van Gundy, and the both of them transferred to Nazareth College for the following year. At Nazareth, Lynch played one season, averaging 1.4 points and 0.4 rebounds on one of the school’s best-ever squads that finished 22-6 and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III
tournament. While that season would be his last on the team, Lynch remained close friends with roomate Van Gundy after graduation, and stayed close to the game, coaching CYO basketball and soccer. Lynch worked with Cantor Fitzgerald as a partner assigned to the collateralized mortgage obligation desk. He is survived by his wife and three daughters. A Memorial scholarship at Nazareth has been set up in his name. He was 39 years young.

Darryl McKinney may have been one of the more explosive players in the history of Division III Elmira College. He also saw plenty of team success early in his career as a member of a ECAC title team his freshman season, and a member of Elmira’s first NCAA Tournament team as a sophomore. The 6’1″ McKinney moved into the starting lineup his junior season, and after a year off, started once again as a senior at the point, averaging approximately 12 points his final year. McKinney’s success wasn’t just limited to the court, as he was also an excellent student, picking up a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Education. McKinney stayed in close contact with
Elmira after graduation, keeping tabs with the program and played in some alumni games. He worked in various jobs in corporate America and the community in the NYC area after his playing career, and was last with Cantor Fitzgerald as a brokerage clerk. He was scheduled to take his brokerage exams on September 22. He was 26 years young.

Stephen Mulderry didn’t look like much of a basketball player when he graduated from Bishop Maginn Diocesan High School. A scrawny six-footer, the young point guard was known more for his scrappiness than any natural basketball talents he might have had. But his desire would lead him to SUNY-Albany, where the coaches had no choice but to be impressed with the gym rat with endless hustle and the willingness to work. After spending his freshman year on the JV squad, the kid known as “Zipper” moved up to the varsity his sophomore year. By his senior year in 1989-90, he was averaging 11.5 points and 5.7 assists per game as the starting point guard and co-captain of a 20-9 NCAA Division III tournament team. He finished his collegiate career with the school’s seventh highest assist total. After graduation, he moved up in the financial sector, becoming a broker and vice president of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods on the 89th floor of Tower Two. His basketball legacy lives on as a memorial fund in his name raises money for youth athletic programs in New York City. He was 33 years young.

Martin Niederer grew to love the game of basketball in middle school, and after a standout career at North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, NJ, accepted a scholarship to play the sport at the University of Vermont. The 6’2″ point guard’s freshman year was spent mainly on the bench, as his role was to give high scoring Eddie Benton some rest from time to time. He got into 16 games and 51 minutes of playing time, scoring 11 points and dishing out 4 assists. After getting recruited over in the fall, Niederer quit the team and decided to focus his attention on school and fell in love with the financial markets after a field trip to Wall Street. But despite no longer being a playing member of the Catamounts, he maintained friendships with his former teammates, many of whom became lifetime friends. Niederer began working as a securities trader at Cantor Fitzgerald in 2000. He was 23 years young.

Tim O’Brien was a multi-sport star as a young man. But while he excelled in both baseball and golf, basketball was the sport that he truly starred in. Over his four-year career at Hartwick College in upstate New York, O’Brien set 11 men’s hoops records, including the all-time leading scoring mark with 1799 career points (which still ranks third overall). As a senior he averaged a school record 24.4 points per game – which still stands – and was named a First Team All-American by the NABC. Even after graduation, O’Brien stayed in close contact with the Hartwick program for many years, and was a member of Hartwick’s first Hall of Fame class in 1995. At Cantor Fitzgerald, O’Brien was a partner in global securities trading and worked in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. On February 15, 2002, Hartwick held Tim O’Brien night to
honor his memory. O’Brien is survived by his wife and four young children. He was 40 years young.

Dan Trant was most familiar to hardcore basketball fans as the last pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, widely regarded of one of the best drafts of all-time. He was selected by the Boston Celtics, who often made a habit of picking local players in the later rounds. But the 6’2″ sweet-shooting Trant was more than just a token selection – he was a gifted college player. At Division III Clark, Trant was a lights-out shooter who averaged 22.5 points and 6.6 assists per game his senior season in 1983-84, where he helped lead the Cougars to the NCAA finals. He finished his career amongst Clark’s all-time leaders in scoring and assists; marks that still stand today. While he did not make the cut with Boston, he did carve out a pro career in the USBL and overseas in Ireland before quitting to concentrate on his family. Trant was a municipal bond trader with Cantor Fitzgerald. He was 40 years young.

Tyler Ugolyn was a highly regarded prep player in Connecticut; a Top 250 nationally-ranked recruit who was nominated for the McDonald’s All-American team as a senior. The 6’4″ forward spurned other offers to attend non-scholarship Columbia, where his basketball career unfortunately didn’t quite blossom, as injuries limited him to 2.2 points per game in six games over the span of two years from 1997 to 1999. But he would make the most of his limited time, putting up per-minute stats any stat geek would be proud of. And even though he was no longer playing the game, his love for hoops would have him sponsor a youth basketball clinic in the South Bronx among many other activities. After graduating from Columbia, he went to work as a research associate at Fred Alger Management, Inc., on the 93rd floor of Tower One. He was 23 years young.

Clearly, all of the men mentioned above were more than simply former college basketball players – they were dedicated husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, family men, and leaders. Their mark was left not only on the court, but certainly off of it as well. Years later, we continue to remember them with our tributes to those who passed away with hoops forever in their blood. May they rest in peace and their memories forever remembered by us all.

     

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