Saturday, September 15, 2012

Old-Time Boys Basketball Coaches You Should Know About

Congrats to the 2012 electees to the coaches halls of fame.

• The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association has elected Franz Boelter of Faribault Bethlehem, Ron Causton of St. Paul Highland, Don Roberts of Simley and Bruce Young of Long Prairie.

• The Minnesota State High School Coaches Association has elected Bill Quenette of Moorhead, along with 5 others representing other sports besides basketball.

• The Minnesota State High School League has not announced its 2012 inductees. Its most recent selections are Ziggy Kauls of Mounds View and Dean Verdoes of Henry Sibley in 2011.

Good choices all. But perusing the list of Hall of Fame members of each group, I was struck by one thing. Where are all the old-timers? By that I mean coaches whose primary claim to fame came before 1960. I mean, this is practically the entire single class era, 1960 being the 48th year of the state tournament, whereas we are now headed into the 53rd year since 1960.

Yet, the MBCA, for instance, has just 11 Hall of Famers who coached primarily before 1960 versus nearly 100 since then. The MSHSCA has 12 out of maybe 40 basketball coaches. That hardly seems equitable.

The problem, of course, is that so little is known about the old-time coaches...or so little was known. A lot more is known now, largely thanks to research by Matt Pederson, the face behind Minnesota Basketball Records.

But, just for the record, the old-time coaches who have made all 3 Halls are Ove Berven, Austin; Wayne Courtney, Mpls. Roosevelt; Mario Retica, Austin St. Augustine, Buhl, Hibbing; and Louis Todnem, Mankato.

Totally Missing

First, here are some coaches who are missing from all 3 of the Halls mentioned above--the MBCA, the MSHSCA and the MSHSL.

1. Ray Parkins, Mpls. Edison. Parkins brought Duluth Central to the 1922 tournament, but if elected he would surely be wearing an Edison hat. The Tommies made 6 state tournaments under Parkins, winning it all in 1937 with a team that was widely regarded as the best Minnesota team ever before WWII. Not only that, but he developed a number of great individuals over the years including:

• Mike Cielusak, class of 1927, later named by Gopher coach Dave MacMillan as one of his 2 best guards (MacMillan coached 1925-1948)

• Willie Warhol, class of 1937, star of that greatest of Edison teams, later a Minnesota Gopher

• Don "Swede" Carlson, class of 1938, later a Gopher about whom MacMillan said was the best defensive player he ever coached

• Marty Rolek, class of 1934, Gopher all-American in 1937 and 1938

• Tony Jaros, class of 1940, who set a slew of Minneapolis and Minnesota scoring records and later played for the Gophers and for the Minneapolis Lakers

Parkins retired in 1943 after coaching for, maybe, 25 years or so.

2. Dick Reinhart, DeLaSalle. Granted, he coached through 1969. But his reputation was made with 4 straight state Catholic titles at the end of the 1950s (and 7 overall). He finished at 373-107, the wins ranking #9 at the time of his retirement.

3. Edwin McKee, St. Paul Mechanic Arts. Coached the Trainers from 1916 to 1928, won the state title in 1925, runner-up in 1916. Still the top coach in St. Paul history on winning percentage (125-48, .765).

4. Harry Nelson, St. Paul Washington. Won 237 games from 1938 to 1959, the most in St. Paul history at the time of his retirement, and the state title in 1943.

5. Frank Cleve, Mpls. Patrick Henry. This guy had to be a greeeeaaattt coach! He was the very 1st guy ever elected to the MN Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Then, he led Concordia (Moorhead) to its only MIAC (basketball) title over a period of 60-some years in 1931. And, finally, he taught Jim McIntyre to play the game, and the 2 (and others, of course) combined to win the 1944 and 1945 state titles.

6. Leonard Froyen, Braham. Went 402-176 from 1931 to 1967.

Missing from 2 of 3

1. Harvey Roels, Chisholm. The greatest coach in Minnesota history is a member only of the MBCA Hall of Fame. Had 499 wins, #1 in the state, at the time of his retirement after almost 40 years on the bench in 1954. He took the Bluestreaks to 6 state tournaments including 5 in a row from 1930 to 1934, winning the title in 1934.

Not only that but Harvey Roels kept the running game alive during the so-called "dead ball" era. In the 1920s and 1930s, most Minnesota teams played a slow, ball control style of game. The 1926 state title game ended with a score of 13-9. As late as 1933, it was 16-13. But Roels' state tournament teams were mostly known as "Point-a-Minute" teams. And Chisholm had such success that most Iron Range teams copied Roels' strategy. That's why Iron Range teams were so popular at the state tournament. They, and (usually) only they, ran with the damn ball. Fortunately, the dead ball era ended with the abandonment of a jump ball after every made basket in favor of the concept of alternating possession.

2. Glenn Hanna, Moorhead. Made it to 7 state tournaments including 6 in a row from 1926 to 1931, and was the 1st coach to repeat in 1928 and 1929. Yet he is a member only of the MBCA Hall.

3. Chet Bisel, Lynd, Lamberton. Won 344 games, which was good for #7 at the time of his retirement in 1956. Not only that, but he shocked the Minnesota basketball world in 1946 with an all-out fast break by Lynd, the likes of which had never been seen before in the state. Lynd shocked Crosby-Ironton and Stillwater to become the smallest school ever to make the single-class final before losing in the final to Austin. Bisel is a member of the MSHSCA Hall.

4. Bun Fortier, Bemidji. Not really an old-timer but is often linked with Ove Berven, so I don't want you to think I forgot about him.

2 Out of 3 Ain't Bad

1. Butsie Maetzold, Hopkins. Somehow Butsie has failed to get the nod from the MSHSL, though he's got the other 2. Reputed to have won 508 games while losing just 62, though a survey of their records does not appear to support such a claim. But then add the 1952 and 1953 state titles.... He also won 90 percent of football games over the same period....

2. Lloyd Holm, Red Wing, Duluth Denfeld, St. Louis Park. The only coach to take 3 different schools to the state finals. Holm also won 542 games, #1 in state history at the time of his retirement. But also missed out on the MSHSL Hall.

3. Herman Woock, Crosby-Ironton. Also missed out on the MSHSL Hall despite 6 state tournament appearances, including runners-up in 1944 and 1947.

4. Fred Kellett, Brainerd. Another who missed the MSHSL despite 368 career wins, #10 at the time of his retirement, and a .739 winning percent, #9 to this day. He also won the 1954 state title.

The Best of the Best

To the MBCA, MSHSCA and MSHSL: If any of these guys is missing from your Hall of Fame, elect him today.

1. Roels, Chisholm 1934
2. Maetzold, Hopkins 1952-1953
3. Courtney, Mpls. Roosevelt 1956-1957
4. Parkins, Duluth Central, Mpls. Edison 1937
5. Berven, Austin 1946, 1958
6. Reinhart, DeLaSalle 1954-1957, 1959, 1961-1962
7. Holm, Red Wing,  Duluth Denfeld, St. Louis Park 1947, 1962
8. Retica, Austin St. Augustine, Buhl, Hibbing 1942
9. Hanna, Moorhead 1928-1929
10. McKee, St. Paul Mechanic Arts 1925

11. Bisel, Lynd, Butterfield 1946
12. Woock, Crosby-Ironton 1944, 1947
13. Fortier, Bemidji 1954, 1961
14. Kellett, Brainerd 1954
15. Cleve, Mpls. Henry 1944, 1945

16. Froyen, Braham 1953
17. Burt Munson, Mountain Lake 1946-1947, 1952

18. Nelson, St. Paul Washington 1943
19. Todnem, Mankato 1949
20. Walter Chapman, Mpls. Marshall

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