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In Memoriam 2002

January 2, 2003 Columns No Comments

In Memoriam, 2002

by Jed Tai

As we say hello to 2003, we should also take this time to remember, reflect, and pay homage to those who died in 2002.

A number of former coaches and players with ties to college basketball passed away in 2002, some of them even doing what they loved – coaching and playing hoops. Our goodbye to those who are no doubt nearby that great basketball court in heaven:

Jim Barnes, 61, September 14.

Barnes was a consensus Third Team All-American in 1963-64 at Texas Western, and finished his career with 1308 points and 965 boards (all-time UTEP leader) in only two seasons. He holds the school’s all-time single season and single game records for points and rebounds. He later was the #1 overall pick of the New York Knicks in the NBA Draft and was a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team.

DeWayne Bonner, 28, May 14 (cancer).

Bonner played multiple positions at Tulsa in the mid-90’s. A deep reserve his first three seasons, Bonner stepped up to the role of point guard as a senior, averaging 7.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in helping lead Tulsa to the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row in 1996. A Dallas native, Bonner led South Oak Cliff High School to a 4A state title as a prepster.

Cedric Barovero, 19, April 4 (irregular heartbeat).

Barovero had just completed his freshman year at Anderson (SC) College, where he had appeared in six games for the varsity squad (scoring two points and grabbing three rebounds) and ten games for the junior varsity team. He collapsed in the team’s locker room after playing in a pick-up basketball game. The 6-5 guard was a native of Argentina.

Hubert Clemmons, 77, July 6.

Clemmons was head men’s basketball coach at Arkansas-Pine Bluff from 1956 to 1977, compiling a 296-217 record with high-scoring teams that often recorded 100 point games. His association with UAPB lasted 56 years, as he also served roles as an assistant football coach, an assistant professor in health, physical education, and recreation, and as athletic director for nine years – where he helped resurrect football and move the school’s athletic programs to Division I.

Richard Cofield, 19, October 16.

Cofield was a freshman at Westfield State College in Massachusetts, and was a projected starter for the team, which competes in Division III. He collapsed during a pre-season afternoon basketball practice and could not be revived. A native of Boston, Cofield was a standout player at Taunton High School and dreamed of playing professionally.

Bison Dele, 33, September (lost at sea; suspected foul play).

Dele, known as Brian Williams during his college days, started his collegiate career at Maryland in 1987-88 before moving on to Arizona, where he starred for two seasons, 1989-90 and 1990-91. He left after his junior season to become a lottery pick of the Orlando Magic, and went on to play in the NBA for eight seasons, picking up an NBA Championship ring with the Chicago Bulls in 1997.

Dennis Getzlaff, 52, February 13 (cancer).

Getzlaff was the head coach at Concordia (Minnesota) for 12 seasons from 1988 where he posted 142 victories and led the team to five NAIA Tournament appearances. He also helped the school transition to the NCAA Division II level in 1999-2000, his final season as head coach. He served as athletic director at the school from 1990 to 1997. Prior to Concordia, he was a standout high school coach in Kansas.

Dennis Goodson, 36, June 25 (heart failure).

Goodson was a four-year player at Jersey City State College from 1983 to 1987, where he was considered the best all-around point guard ever coached by head coach Charles Brown. The 6-2 guard known as “Schoolyard” started and averaged 10.4 ppg and 5.5 apg as a junior on JCSC’s Division III Final Four squad in 1985-86 that finished with a 24-8 record.

Al Grenert, 83, August 10.

Grenert was a legendary coach in the state of New Hampshire, and served as head coach at St. Anslem’s College for 22 years, from 1949 to 1971. As a player, Grenert played at New York University, where he was a member of the 1945-46 squad that made the finals of the NCAA Tournament. He also played professionally in the Southern Basketball League and the New York State Basketball League before entering the coaching profession.

Reed Green, 90, February 1.

Green was one of the pioneers of athletics at Southern Mississippi, and served as the school’s head basketball coach for six seasons starting in 1936, assembling a 24-37 record. He is in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, and the basketball arena at Southern Mississippi is named after him. He also coached football at and later served as the school’s athletic director until 1973.

Bobby Joe Hill, 59, December 8 (heart attack).

Hill was the point guard and leading scorer (15.0 ppg) for Texas Western’s 1966 NCAA title team that signaled a new era in college basketball history, as the Miners fielded a starting lineup of five African-American players. Hill led the team with 20 points on that historic night, and his two steals in the first half served as the turning point in the historic victory. Lee

Morton Hutto, 85, March 21.

Hutto served terms as assistant and head basketball coach, head men’s golf coach, athletic director, and associate professor of physical education at Hendrix College in Arkansas from 1946-56 and 1963-79. His coaching career also included a short stint at Henderson State University in Arkansas. He was a track star at Hendrix during the late 1920’s.

Michael Isenhour, 23, June 14 (leukemia).

Isenhour was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia prior to what would have been his senior season at Georgia Tech in 2001-02, but graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in May. He spent three years in the program, averaging 1.0 ppg and 1.0 rpg in two full seasons. He started his career at Air Force, where the 6-8 forward averaged 1.2 ppg and 1.6 rpg in 21 games.

James Jenkins, 19, May 30 (hiking accident).

Jenkins walked-on as a freshman at San Jose state in 2001-02, and ended up appearing in 30 of 32 games, starting once, and averaging 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds. The 6-7 forward/center was projected as a possible starter for his sophomore season. He had gone hiking with his father in the mountains outside the Mammoth Lakes, California area before the pair had gotten separated.

Ed Jucker, 85, February 2.

Jucker coached the Cincinnati Bearcats to consecutive NCAA titles in 1960-61 and 1961-62 and almost a third in 1962-63. His career tournament percentage of .917 is unmatched in NCAA history. He also coached UC baseball in the 50’s, and his jersey number (#12) was retired by the school in that sport. He later coached in the NBA and at Division II Rollins College.

Bogdan Konontsuk, 20, January 12 (heart failure).

Konontsuk, a native of Estonia, was a sophomore forward at McLennan Community College in Texas. The 6-8 Konotsuk collapsed in the middle of the first half of a home game against Grayson County College and later passed away at the hospital. He had originally signed to play with Stephen F. Austin in 2002-03.

Bob Lackey, 53, June 4 (cancer).

Lackey was a two-year letterman at Marquette in 1970-71 and 1971-72, where he was known as the “Black Swan”. As the team captain his senior season, Lackey helped lead Marquette to the NCAA Tournament while averaging 15.2 ppg and 8.1 rpg. He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, but signed with the New York Nets of the ABA where he played parts of two seasons before continuing his career overseas.

Abe Lemons, 79, September 2.

Lemons won 599 games over a 34 year college coaching career, which featured stints at Texas-Pan American, Oklahoma City, and Texas. He led Texas to an NIT title in 1979 and retired after the 1989-90 season at Oklahoma City. A true personality, one could always count on Lemons for a quick quip or quote. His teams made eight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Willie Little, 52, January 7.

Little was a long-time head coach at multiple levels, most recently Kennedy-King College in Chicago. His coaching career spanned over 25 years, including a stint at Illinois-Chicago from 1983-87 where he accumulated a 66-52 record, earning Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1984. He also coached Chicago’s Manley High School to a Illinois state title in 1980.

Al LoBalbo, 82, January 5.

LoBalbo coached at all levels of basketball, with his only head coaching experience at Fairleigh Dickinson from 1969 to 1980, posting a 128-142 record. He served as an assistant to Bobby Knight at Army from 1967 to 1969, and to Lou Carnesecca at St. John’s from 1981 to 1996. LoBalbo won several state titles at the high school level at St. Mary’s High School in Elizabeth, NJ, and served briefly as an assistant with the Buffalo Braves in the NBA.

Hank Lusetti, 86, December 21.

Lusetti was credited with introducing the one-handed jump shot, which completely changed the game of basketball in the late 30’s. He was a three-time All-American at Stanford from 1936 to 1938 and was also the first player to score 50 points in a game, still a Stanford single-game record. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959.

Edward Martin, 75, February 25.

Martin was head coach at Tennessee State from 1968 to 1985, where he accumulated a 301-143 record. Prior to that, he coached at South Carolina State for 27 years, where he picked up 501 more wins. He finished his coaching career as an assistant to C.M. Newton at Vanderbilt. He is a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Prior to his coaching days, Martin was a standout baseball player who played in the Negro Leagues and the Cincinnati Reds system.

Gary McQuay, 24, August 15 (leukemia).

McQuay, a 6-8 forward, was a three-year letterwinner at Purdue from 1996-97 to 1998-99 where he was teammates for one year with twin brother Greg. He transferred to Florida Atlantic in 1999, but never arrived there after being diagnosed with leukemia and had been at Purdue working on his degree. He averaged 4.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg over 94 career games in West Lafayette.

Don Odle, 81, March 7.

Odle was a long-time head coach at Taylor (IN) University, coaching at the school for 32 years starting in 1947. He won 468 games during his career. Odle also spearheaded several Christian-related basketball programs, including Venture for Victory where he took a squad of all-stars on tours of foreign countries. He was named to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Richie Regan, 72, December 24.

Regan played, coached, and served as athletic director at his alma mater, Seton Hall. As a player, Regan scored 1167 career points and helped lead the Pirates to an NIT title in 1953. He coached at the school in the 60’s for 10 seasons, accumulating 112 wins. As an athletic director, Regan helped coordinate Seton Hall’s entry in the Big East Conference in 1979.

Gene Rock, 80, October 31 (cancer).

Rock played three seasons at Southern Cal in the 40’s, serving a three-year stint in the Marines between his junior and senior seasons. The 5-9 forward earned team MVP honors as a senior in 1946-47, leading the team in scoring with 11.1 ppg. Rock played with the Chicago Stags in the NBA for 11 games in 1947-48. He later served as a captain in the Los Angeles police force.

Bobby Roberts, 74, June 22.

Roberts coached men’s basketball at the freshman and varsity levels at Clemson from 1962 to 1970. He first started out coaching the freshman team for four years, building a record of 50-20, before moving up to coaching the varsity squad where he remains the only coach to post a winning record in ACC play in consecutive seasons. Roberts played collegiately at Furman.

Fred Scolari, 80, October 17.

Scolari was a playground legend in the Bay Area before moving on to play for San Francisco in the 40’s. After his college career, he moved on to a long career professionally in the BAA and NBA, where he was a two-time All-Star and All-Pro selection. He even served as a player-coach with the Baltimore Bullets for one season in 1951-52. He is a member of the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Derek Smith, 19, May 5 (rare heart defect).

Smith was a redshirt freshman on the basketball team at Grand Valley State in Michigan. He had been playing pick-up basketball at the Fieldhouse Arena and was taking a break when he suddenly collapsed. He was a native of Grand Rapids and had starred at Grand Rapids Union High School.

Phil Smith, 50, July 30 (bone marrow cancer).

Smith scored 1523 career points over three years at San Francisco from 1971-72 to 1973-74, leading the team in scoring all three years. He went on to a six-year NBA career where he earned an NBA championship ring with the Warriors in 1975. He is one of only five USF players to have his number retired (#20).

James Smith-Betsill, May 5.

Smith-Betsill starred for NAIA school College of Steubenville in Ohio (now known as Franciscan University of Steubenville) from 1955-58, and still holds the NAIA record for most career rebounds with 2334 boards (20.8 average). He helped the Barons reach the NAIA Tournament three times, and had an opportunity to play with the Boston Celtics in the NBA, but unfortunately suffered an injury in the Armed Services.

Dave Sorenson, 54, July 9 (cancer).

Sorenson played at Ohio State from 1967-68 to 1969-70, where he was a three year starter. He led the team in scoring and rebounding his junior and senior seasons, and helped the team win the 1968 Big Ten Championship and reach the NCAA Tournament final Four as a sophomore. He completed his career with 1622 points, good enough for eighth all-time in school history.

Gene Sullivan, 70, February 21.

Sullivan was head coach at Loyola (IL) from 1980 to 1989, an overall record of 149-114, and led the Ramblers to their last NCAA Tournament appearance in 1985. His teams won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference three times, and he was twice named conference Coach of the Year. His career started at the high school level before he moved on to assistant coaching positions and the athletic director job at DePaul in the late 70’s. He most recently served as a radio analyst for DePaul basketball.

Fred Taylor, 77, January 6.

Taylor led Ohio State to seven Big Ten titles and three national championship game appearances – including a title in 1960 – during an 18 year coaching career. His teams had an overall 14-4 record in NCAA tournament play, and his overall career record was 297-158. He was twice named national coach of the year. Taylor also played basketball at Ohio State in the 1950’s. Some of Taylor’s former players include hall-of-famers Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, and Bobby Knight.

Milton Ticco, 79, January 26.

Ticco was a three-year letterman at Kentucky from 1940-41 to 1942-43, where he led the team in scoring as a senior with 10.1 ppg and was named SEC Tournament MVP. He was also a key member of UK’s first-ever Final Four team in 1942. A multi-sport athlete, Ticco also played first base and catcher for Kentucky, and later played both professional baseball with the Dodgers and Reds and basketball in the old ABL.

Ed Warner, 73, September 11.

Warner starred at forward for the City College of New York (CCNY) team that pulled off the only double-double in NCAA history, winning both the NCAA and NIT tournaments. He was named MVP of the NIT, but was convicted of point shaving in the scandal that rocked the college basketball world in 1951. He served in various officiating capacities for the New York City’s Public Schools Athletic League later in his life.

Byron “Whizzer” White, 84, April 15 (pneumonia).

White will no doubt be best remembered for his work as a Supreme Court Justice, where he served for 31 years. Athletically, he’ll also be remembered as a football star in college at Colorado and in the NFL with Pittsburgh and Detroit. But the 6-2 White also succeeded on the basketball court, helping Colorado reach the finals of the NIT in 1938. The Byron “Whizzer” White Award is given annually by the NFL to a player for his humanitarian efforts in the community.

Chris Flynn contributed to this article.


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