It was a "dream team" of college basketball, perhaps one of the finest in the storied program at Westminster College.
The 1961-62 Titan powerhouse had it all. Pin-point shooting. Tremendous rebounding. Solid defense. Winning chemistry. All were Titan trademarks that memorable season.
Yesterday, members of that team were honored, first at a dinner at Russell Hall, and then at halftime of the Titan vs. Grove City College basketball encounter.
It seems only yesterday that the 1961-62 Titan team had area fans buzzing. I had just returned from a two-year stint with Uncle Sam across the waters in Germany. During my service, I had played with the 16th Artillery (4th Armored Division) team located near Stuttgart. I thought we had a decent team until getting my first glimpse of that Titan team.
Coached by the late C.G. "Buzz" Ridl, the Titans were devastating, rolling up a remarkable 26-3 record and advancing to the NAIA National Championship where they were turned back by Prarie View A & amp;M.
Included in the victory list that season was a 63-60 triumph over Duquesne University at Pitt Field House on Feb. 14. The Dukes that season were the No. 5 Division I team in the nation.
Ridl was named NAIA National Coach of the Year for his efforts and his team was voted the top small college team in the nation by the Associated Press and United Press International.
Even more: It didn't end there. Westminster and Grambling University were chosen by the U.S. State Department to participate in a six-week goodwill tour of South America during the summer of 1962.
Grambling was led by Willis Reed, who went on to a career with the New York Knicks.
Ron Galbreath, who went on to be head basketball coach at Westminster, was a member of that 1961-62 team.
"It was a team where everyone could handle the ball and every player was a good shooter," he said. "All of the good things you need for a successful team were there."
Dr. Galbreath was an All-American point guard that season. He later served as Titan head coach for 25 years (1968-69, 1974-98).
The team also featured four NAIA First Team All-Americans. Galbreath and Warren Sallade were named All-Americans following the '61-62 season. Lou Skurcenski earned All-America recognition following his senior year in 1963-64, while Bob Oravetz was honored following the 1964-65 season.
Attendees: Following is a list of the team members who had confirmed their attendance at last night's 40th reunion ceremonies:
Sandy Dalglish, Erie, Pa., sales representative; Bill Douds, Bethel Park, Pa., works in private business; Bob Douds, Delaware, Ohio, retired sales representative, PPG Industries; Ron Galbreath, New Wilmington, Pa., coach/professor, Westminster College; Bill Hennon, Chatauqua, N.Y., teacher/basketball coach; and Bob Orabetz, McMurray, Pa., teacher/basketball coach.
Others scheduled to attend were Stephanie Skurcenski (widow of Lou Skurcenski) and Betty Ridl (widow of C.G. "Buzz" Ridl.)
Every so often, a team comes along that possesses an insurmountable amount of talent, one that can mesh, blend and become a team that is mighty hard to beat.
That was the 1961-62 Westminster College Titan basketball team. Happy 40th reunion.