NCAA Division I Sports
NCAA Division I Sports
Followers of Marquette athletics will recall 1959 as the year when the Warrior cage team returned to college basketball's Promised Land.
Not since the “Cinderella” team of 1954-55 finished its season as the eight ranked power in the country has a Marquette club approached the heights reached by the one of 1958-59.
Eddie Hickey, who succeeded Jack Nagle as basketball coach after an illustrious career at Saint Louis University, estimated that it would take two years to restore the Warriors to their former position of renown. But the team, using Hickey's crowd pleasing fast break offense as a springboard soared to a 22-4 record and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Mike Moran, a six-foot eight-inch senior center, led the way with 526 points, an 18.1 average. The lefthanded hook shot artist concluded his career as the possessor of every significant scoring record at Marquette. His 526 points set a single season record, and his 1,355 points represented a career record. Moran also set the single game high in 1957-58 with a 44 point explosion against Creighton.
Fowards Walt Mangham and Don Kojis finished with 387 and 403 points, respectively. Mangham, the national high school high jump champion in 1956, wrestled down 372 rebounds. His cat-like jumping feats were a continuous source of amazement to spectators. Kojis, generally acclaimed as one of the finest high school players ever developed in Milwaukee, climaxed a brilliant sophomore year by being selected to the NCAA all-tournament team. A fiery competitor, Kojis led the Warriors with 376 rebounds and placed second to Moran in scoring. Their combined efforts on the glass resulted in an amazing average of 56.9 rebounds per game, a school record that still stands nearly 50 years later.
Senior guard Jim McCoy was the team's chief outside threat. An excellent driver and steady ball handler, McCoy was often at his best when the chips were down. He tallied 337 points.
Junior guard Jim Kollar was the playmaker. He did not shoot much but scored 251 points. His .773 free throw percentage led the team. The players recognized Kollar's leadership value by electing him captain for 1959-60.
Marquette finished the season ranked 15th in the final UPI poll and 20th in the final AP poll.
Marquette received invitations to both the NIT and NCAA tournaments in February. Athletic Director Lawrence Mullins met with the Marquette Athletic board for three hours, before decided to accept the NCAA tournament bid. “It was awfully tough to decide which one to accept,” said Mullins. “Coach Hickey feels a strong attachment to the NIT, having gone to it nine times with his Creighton and Saint Louis teams, but exerted no pressure on the board members and feels very happy with their decision. We chose the NCAA because it is, of course, the governing body of all member schools and we figured we owed them the loyalty.”
“I couldn't be happier,” said Coach Hickey, when interviewed about the selection. “I view it as a tremendous tribute to a team that doesn't have too much in the way of reserves, but has nevertheless, hustled and scrapped all the way in every game. It's certainly a great honor too, for the school and it's alumni.”
Team Captain, Gene Suppelsa said that although the team would have liked to have been in the NIT in New York, the NCAA was fine with him. Suppelsa thought the only difference between the two tournaments was the sites involved and that the team would've like to have seen New York, but did acknoweldge that playing in the NCAA tournament in Evanston would give them the opportunity to play before a larger Marquette following.
“Sure, in a way I was looking forward a little to going to New York,” said guard Jim Kollar, “but the NCAA probably carries more prestige. After all, we'll be meeting the conference winners and they don't come much tougher than Michigan State or Kentucky. Then, too, we'll be representing Marquette and if we're fortunate enough to get to Evanston, the student body will have a chance to watch us. That partisan crowd makes a big difference to a ball club,” Kollar said.
Walt Mangham shrugged off a request to compare the two tournaments. “They name 'em, we'll play 'em,” said the junior forward. “No preference,” was the comment of forward Don Kojis. “All my life, I've dreamed of playing for Marquette and just being on a team like this one has been a tremendous, season-long thrill. A tournament selection, no matter which one, makes it all just perfect.”
Bob Walczak, a starting guard on the “Cinderella” Warriors 1954-55 team said he wasn't at all surprised by the selection of the NCAA over the NIT. “It's true that the tougher teams usually go to the NCAA, but I believe the team's chances are just as good there as they would be in New York. Marquette is used to playing Midwestern schools and the referees give a team a lot more leeway here, than they do in the East. A scrappy team like the Warriors might have a lot of trouble with fouls calls in New York,” said Walczak.
“I remember that our 1955 team actually preferred the NCAA. We had heard so much about Adolph Rupp and his great Kentucky teams, that we were dying to get a shot at them. They talk about publicity advantages in New York, but I honestly believe that we got more ink after knocking off Kentucky, than we could have by defeating any team in the NIT,” Walczak said.
|12/2/58||at UW-Madison||W 76-47||1-0|
|12/8/58||at Nebraska||L 60-62||2-1|
|12/9/58||at Creighton||W 53-49||3-1|
|12/13/58||Saint Norbert||W 82-74||4-1|
|12/18/58||New York||W 70-59||6-1|
|12/22/58||#9 Xavier (OH)||W 86-71||8-1|
|1/3/59||at Detroit||W 78-63||10-1|
|1/5/59||Loyola (IL)||W 70-59||11-1|
|1/9/59||Air Force||W 67-46||12-1|
|1/13/59||at Valparaiso||W 96-74||13-1|
|1/31/59||#17 Louisville||W 66-62||14-1|
|2/4/59||Bowling Green||W 73-62||16-1|
|2/7/59||at Loyola (IL)||W 90-60||17-1|
|2/9/59||at DePaul||L 80-89||17-2|
|2/14/59||at Louisville||L 55-68||17-3|
|2/21/59||at Xavier (OH)||W 79-70||18-3|
|2/24/59||Notre Dame||W 95-76||19-3|
|2/27/59||at Western Michigan||W 81-71||20-3|
|2/28/59||at Toledo||W 56-53||21-3|
|3/7/59||at Notre Dame||L 35-51||22-4|
|3/10/59||vs Bowling Green||W 89-71||23-4||NCAA Tournament|
|3/13/59||vs #7 Michigan State||L 69-74||23-5||NCAA Tournament|
|3/14/59||vs #2 Kentucky||L 69-98||23-6||NCAA Tournament|