Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coach Fred Taylor and the 1960 Basketball Buckeyes

Fred Taylor was an Ohio boy who grew up in Zanesville and went on to graduate in 1950 from the Ohio State Unversity. He played center on one of the best ever Buckeye teams.

During his senior year, the Buckeyes has a 22-4 season, a record until ten years later when Fred coached the team to a 25-3 season and the NCAA Championship. That team was so outstanding that the 1959-60 season was described as “The Year of the Buckeyes.”

Center Jerry Lucas, forwards John Havlicek and Joe Roberts and guards Larry Siegfried and Mel Nowell deserved every bit of praise they received. This group of Ohio natives, led by Lucas, became the nation's top scorers, hitting nealyr fifty percent of their field goals. The 6’8” Lucas from Middletown, Ohio, had been the country's top high school scorer, wracking up 2,460 to break Wilt Chamberlain’s 2,252 point record set at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia.

Lucas was a straight shooter off the court as well. An “A” student majoring in business, Lucas carried a full course load and was proud that he was attending the Ohio State on an academic scholarship.

Lucas’ teamates were also an impressive group. Larry Siegfried was the Bucks' leading scorer in 1958, averaging nearly twenty points a game as a sophmore. Under Fred’s coaching Larry sublimated his desire to be an offensive star and teamed with Columbus native Mel Nowell, an unbelievably tough guard.

Forward John Havlicek also figured into Fred’s emphasis on defense. An all-state high school athlete in all sports, Havlicek once told a reporter that if the team members had tried to score individually as they had in high school, the scoreboard would have shown one hundred-fifty points a game.

“I knew that wasn’t going to happen,” he said, “so I forgot about the offense because I knew that concentrating on defense was the quickest way to make the team.” John’s patience was rewarded. He got his chance to shoot for the Boston Celtics and became the fourth leading scorer in the NBA history.

Joe Roberts, another tall and talented member of that famous team, was a fine forward and aggressive player who unselfishly and repeatedly set up Lucas to shoot. Although he was not one of the five starters, Dick Furry was another excellent forward who got a lot of play. Also on that famous team was Bobby Knight, who while not a star, showed a lot of hustle.

Like football coach Woody Hayes, Fred Taylor did everything in his power to see that his players graduated. He was not a “user” who saw these players as finely-tuned athletes whose sole purpose was to bring glory to Ohio State. Fred was very realistic and urged his players to be realistic about their chances of turning pro.

He often reminded even his most talented players that only a handful of college stars were selected by the professional teams. “The odds are not very good that you’ll make it,” he told them bluntly. “If you don’t get your degree while doing something you enjoy, then it isn’t worth it to you.”

To his credit, all of Fred Taylor’s players graduated.

Jimmy Crum,
From Jimmy Crum: How About That!

No comments:

Post a Comment