1955-56 Men's Basketball Team - The 1955-56 Golden Griffin basketball team was the first squad to ever earn Canisius College Hall of Fame honors. 14 players, two coaches and the team's trainer have all been inducted, including Fran Corcoran, whose game-winning shot at Madison Square Garden against second ranked North Carolina State is noted by ESPN as the sixth-best NCAA Tournament upset of all-time, winning the game in the fourth overtime 79-78. That year, the Golden Griffins defeat Dartmouth in round two before a two-point loss to Temple prevented the Griffs from reaching what is now known as "The Final Four." Prior to the tournament, the Griffs won 17 of 23 games that included triumphs over Syracuse, Villanova, Holy Cross, Boston College, Creighton and Fordham. They also held a 4-0 record that season against Little Three rivals Niagara and St. Bonaventure. The Griffs averaged 9,247 fans at 15 home games in the Memorial Auditorium, and four players were named to the College's pre-70's All-Century Team. The '55-'56 team finished with a 19-7 record, earning 2,067 points to the opponents 1,829.
1955-56 Team Roster:
Head Coach Joseph Curran: A third-year coach in 1955-'56, Curran improved the team to 19-7 from 9-14 his first season and 18-7 his second season. In the '56-'57 season, the Griffs took 22 of 28 wins on the season. Curran was head coach for six seasons.
Gene Bartkowski: Played in 11 games during the '55-'56 season, earning two field goals, three free throws, and seven rebounds...Also had the fewest fouls of any player on the team with three.
Greg Britz: Grabbed 26 rebounds through 19 games...Scored eight field goals and 16 free throws for 32 points during the season.
Fran Corcoran: Shot the game-winner against North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament...Earned 119 points on the season with 50 field goals and 19 free throws...Also pulled in 82 rebounds.
Jack Coogan: Played in 12 games, earning 19 rebounds, two field goals and two free throws.
Bob Kelly: Co-captain of the team...Started 26/26 games, earning 87 field goals and 81 free throws for a total 255 points on the season...Averaged 9.8 points per game and grabbed a total 166 rebounds during the season.
Joe Leone: The tallest member of the team at 6-5, Leone earned 261 rebounds during the season, ranking second on the team, and contributed on offense with 94 field goals and 69 free throws for a total 257 points...Currently ranks 6th on Canisius all-time career rebounds with 729.
Dave Markey: A 26-game participant, Markey was one of two players on the team under 6-0 at 5-10...He earned a total 251 points on the season from 82 field goals and 87 free throws...Also helped out on defense with 133 rebounds during the season...Averaged 9.6 points per game through all 26 games.
John McCarthy: Co-captain of the team...Led Canisius in scoring at 19.7 points per game in his senior year through 180 field goals and 154 free throws...Also ranked third on the team in rebounds with 175...Currently holds the 6th spot on Canisius all-time season field goal record with 483 for the '55-'56 season...Went on to a career in the NBA as well as with the ABL (American Basketball League).
James McCarthy: Played in 26/26 games through the season as a freshman...Scored 26 field goals and 11 free throws for a total 63 points in the season...Also grabbed 64 rebounds.
Jim McMullen: A 12-game participant, McMullen earned 17 points on the season through seven field goals and three free throws...Also pubbled in ten rebounds.
Hank Nowak: Posted 18.7 points and 12.5 rebounds on average per contest...Currently ranks number one in career attempted free throws (833) and second on career made free throws (557)...Made 161/246 free throws in the 55-56 season and earned 467 points including his 153 field goals and 161 free throws...Led the team in rebounds (321)...Drafted by St. Louis (NBA) as the fourth-round, fourth pick in 1957...Went on to become Congressman with the U.S. House of Representatives.
Bob Thrunk: The shortest member of the team at 5-7, Thrunk played in 12 games, earning 10 field goals and 14 free throws...Also brought in six rebounds for a total of 17 points during the season.
Dick Vann: Vann grabbed a total 55 rebounds through 11 games...Earned 45 points through the season with 18 field goals and 9 free throws...Earned an average 4.4 points per game.