COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 1960 national title team was honored at halftime of today’s game vs. Minnesota at Value City Arena.
Prior to the game, the team met with the media and took a team picture with each player in the same position as the 1960 team photo.
At halftime, each team member was introduced, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, before a banner honoring head coach Fred Taylor was unfurled from the Value City Arena rafters.
Click on the links above to watch the halftime ceremony or hear comments from Bob Knight, Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek and Mel Nowell.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio State’s fans showered a half a century of cheers on the 1960 Buckeyes.
Led by stars Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek – along with substitute Bob Knight, who would become the winningest college coach ever – the school’s only national championship basketball team received a warm and emotional welcome home Sunday.
Grayer, more stooped and heavier in their dotage, the 1960 Buckeyes received a lengthy standing ovation as they were introduced – a spotlight pinpointing each player as they walked slowly and deliberately to midcourt – during halftime of the current Buckeyes’ game with Minnesota.
The Buckeyes beat the Golden Gophers 85-63, attributing the victory to not wanting to disappoint the honorees.
Knight then honored the man who brought them all together originally, late coach Fred Taylor. A banner was unfurled from the rafters celebrating Taylor’s 18 seasons as head coach, which included seven Big Ten titles, four trips to the Final Four and that 1960 title.
There was a delay as the banner was revealed, prompting Knight, a winner of 902 games at Army, Indiana and Texas Tech, to crack: ”I thought we had a referee involved for a minute.”
A capacity crowd roared.
The players, now in their 70s or close to it, returned to Ohio State for what turned into an emotional tribute to one of the few members of that team who wasn’t on hand at Value City Arena.
Taylor, the coach who assembled a disparate group of individuals into a close-knit, 25-3 squad, died in 2002. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he was an innovator and team builder who went 297-158 and wasn’t even 50 years old when he resigned in 1976.
After the players were introduced one by one, Knight gave a moving elegy for his old coach and friend.
”You deserve a great painting because there’s a great painter,” Knight said. ”You deserve a great building because there’s a great architect. When there’s a great basketball team, there’s been a great coach.”
Knight has seldom made appearances at his alma mater over the years. But he made an exception to be with his former teammates – perhaps for the final time.
After introducing the last surviving member of Taylor’s coaching staff, Frank Truitt, Knight added, ”No team won a national championship with a better head coach than Fred Taylor.”
Several hundred people attended a reception and ceremony on Saturday night at St. John Arena, where the 1960 Buckeyes actually played their games. Each player received replicas of the national championship trophy.
They also had a chance to renew old acqaintances and remember their college days.
”It was a great group of people,” said Lucas, a two-time national player of the year who averaged 26.3 points and 16 rebounds a game as a sophomore on the title team. ”Fred had to blend guys who were stars on their teams for years and make them into a cohesive unit.
Havlicek, who went on to win eight NBA titles with the Boston Celtics, said it was a rare mix of personalities.
”The chemistry came from winning traditions,” he said. ”(Celtics coach) Red (Auerbach) did it at Boston and Fred did it here at Ohio State. Red had a theory that it’s not what stats you have that measures your value to the team. Everyone wants to score 25 or 30 points a game and grab 15 or 20 rebounds. But you had to work together to be successful.”
Four members of the team are in the Hall of Fame, with Taylor and Knight in the coaches wing, with Lucas and Havlicek – both of whom were selected as one of the NBA’s greatest 50 players ever in 1997 – joining them as players. All five starters, including Larry Siegfried, Joe Roberts and Mel Nowell, played in the NBA.
The Buckeyes hit 84 percent of their shots from the field to build a 37-19 lead over Cal in the national title game at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. They coasted to a 75-55 victory. The underclassmen also made it to the championship game the next two seasons, but lost each time to in-state rival Cincinnati.
One teammate became a doctor, others went into education, two picked up their Ph.D.s and others left a lasting imprint in business.
”We went different directions, but we’re all pretty good friends,” Knight said.
All came back to remember that one, special season.
”It was a great group of people,” Lucas said. ”Great citizens, great players, great people. A real love affair (with fans) began then and it continues to this day.”
An updated glimpse at the 1959-60 Ohio State national champions:
–Mel Nowell, 6-foot-2, sophomore, Columbus (East HS), Ohio
An All-Ohio selection as a senior in high school, Nowell ended up as the Big Ten’s second-leading scorer for the 1960 team at 14 points a game. Drafted by the Chicago Zephyrs in the 12th round of the 1962 draft, Nowell played only one season in the NBA. He also played in the Eastern League and ABA. He was state budget director under Ohio Gov. James Rhodes for 2 1/2 years, then went into retail, real estate and construction. Now semi-retired, he and his wife have four children and 10 grandchildren.
–Gary Gearhart, 6-2, sophomore, New Lebanon, Ohio
Gearhart scored 49 points in 19 games, then worked as a manufacturer’s representative for a high-school jewelry company in Lima, Ohio.
–John Havlicek, 6-5, sophomore, Bridgeport, Ohio
Havlicek averaged 14.6 points over his Ohio State career, and helped the ”Super Sophs” compile a 78-6 record. Many might be surprised that Havlicek was the Buckeyes’ second-leading rebounder. A great all-around athlete, he thought about playing for the Cleveland Browns, who took him in the seventh round of the NFL draft, before joining the Boston Celtics, who had selected in the first round in 1962. He helped the Celtics win eight NBA title and was immortalized by Johnny Most’s 1965 call of his play that helped win a title, ”Havlicek stole the ball! Havlicek stole the ball!” He scored more than 26,000 points in 16 seasons and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. He was selected one of the top 50 players of the NBA in 1997.
–John Cedargren, 6-5, senior, Columbus (North HS), Ohio
While taking a five-year mechanical engineering class, Cedargren contributed some key moments off the bench, scoring 16 points in 13 games as a backup for Lucas. Cedargren died in 1966.
Autographed basketballs signed by 5 starter’s available:
Fans can purchase an autographed basketball signed by the five (5) starters of the 1960 championship team. The balls are available for purchase for $299.00. The balls are available for purchase at all remaining Ohio State home games.
–Jerry Lucas, 6-8, sophomore, Middletown, Ohio
Still considered one of the greatest high school players ever (2,460 points, 76-1 record) for the Middies, Lucas was a first-team All-American all three years he played at Ohio State (freshmen were not eligible,. He also led 1964 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal. A brilliant student, Lucas maintained an A average that put him in the top 4 percent of his class in Ohio State’s College of Commerce and Administration. Taken in first round of the NBA draft by the Cincinnati Royals, he sat out his first year after signing with the ABA’s Cleveland Pipers before finally joining the Royals. He starred for 11 years in the NBA, averaging 15.6 rebounds for his career. He won a championship with the New York Knicks in 1973 while starring as a rebounder and long-range shooter. Selected as one of the greatest 50 players in NBA history in 1997, he has written text books and popular books about memorization. Now with five grown children, Lucas lives in Templeton, Calif., and still travels, putting on memorization seminars. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979.
–Dick Furry, 6-7, senior, Columbus (West HS), Ohio
More than almost anyone else on the Ohio State team, Furry stood to lose the most by the arrival of the sophomores. After starting and averaging 11.5 points as a junior, he had to share time at forward with Havlicek and ended up averaging 5.1 points as a senior. After graduation, he became president of a paint, dye and ink company in suburban Cleveland.
–Richie Hoyt, 6-4, junior, Mt. Vernon, Ohio
Another valuable sub on the team, Hoyt once scored 50 points in a high school game. He totaled 58 in 23 games for the 1959-60 Buckeyes, then became an executive for a workers’ compensation company.
–Joe Roberts, 6-6, senior, Columbus (East HS), Ohio
Roberts thrived in coach Fred Taylor’s offense, averaging 11 points and seven rebounds. He was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals in the third round, and played three years in the NBA with the Nationals and one year in the ABA. He went into coaching and spent several years as an assistant in college ranks and the NBA. He eventually went into education before retiring in California.
–Dave Barker, 6-2, senior, Columbus, Ohio
Scored 23 points in 16 games as a backup guard. After graduation, he became owner of David Barker Art Gallery in Columbus.
–Gary Milliken, 5-11, junior, Waynesburg, Pa.
Milliken did not score in two games. After graduation, he became manager of a utility company in Pittsburgh.
–Larry Siegfried, 6-4, junior, Shelby, Ohio
Ohio State’s MVP in 1959 and a consensus second-team All-American in 1961, Siegfried was drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Royals in 1961. He passed up the NBA to spend two seasons in the ABA. Like Havlicek, he eventually found a home with in Boston and spent seven years playing for Red Auerbach, helping the club win titles in 1964-66 and 1968-69. He played for three more teams before retiring after the 1972 season, having scored almost 6,000 points. He later coached, counseled prisoners at the Mansfield Correctional Institution and did motivational speaking.
–J.T. Landes, 5-11, sophomore, Columbus (North HS), Ohio
Saw action in only six games, scoring four points for the Buckeyes. He became a school administrator in Green Bay, Wis.
–Bob Knight, 6-4, sophomore, Orrville, Ohio
Better known as a coach than a player, Knight averaged 3.7 points as a sub on the national championship team. He would go on to win more games (902) than any college coach. He spent six years (1965-71) at Army, going 102-50, and 29 years (1971-2000) at Indiana, where he went 661-240, won 11 Big Ten titles and NCAA championships in 1976, 1981 and 1987. He closed out his successful yet turbulent coaching career with seven years (2001-08) at Texas Tech, going 138-82. He is now an analyst on ESPN, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.
–Nelson Miller, 6-3, sophomore, Reading, Ohio
Miller scored five points in six games with the Buckeyes in 1960. After graduation, he moved to Monticello, Ill.
–Jim Allen, 5-9, junior, Columbus, Ohio
Allen played in seven games, scoring seven points, and went on to become an emergency-room physician in Malibu, Calif.
–Howard Nourse, 6-7, senior, Springfield, Ohio
Nourse averaged 3.1 points backing up Lucas, and eventually became an educator. He was a vice president of Milligan College in Tennessee.
Ernie Biggs (trainer). Brigg was Ohio State’s head football and basketball trainer from 1945-1972, and held a patent for a knee brace he designed. A portion of the football practice facility is named in his honor, and he went into Ohio State’s athletic hall of fame in 1980.
Frank Truitt (freshman coach). A graduate of Otterbein College, Truitt left Ohio State to become the head coach at LSU in 1965, then at Kent State in 1966-74. He also spent five years coaching golf and four coaching soccer at the school. After retiring in 1978, he moved back to Columbus and worked in real estate before retiring.
Jack Graf (assistant coach). After graduating from Ohio State, he picked up a master’s degree at Harvard before returning to his alma mater to assist Taylor while working in the family business. Inducted into the Ohio State athletic hall of fame in 1988, Graf died on Sept. 14, 2009, at age 90.
Fred Taylor (head coach). A native of Zanesville, Ohio, Taylor came to Ohio State as a student in 1942 but left to join the military. He returned to play on the 1948-50 teams, and was good enough in baseball that h e played four years in the Washington Senators organization. Ohio State asked him to return as a freshman basketball and baseball coach in 1953. He guided the Buckeyes basketball team as head coach for 18 years, posting a record of 297-158 and winning five straight Big Ten titles (1960-64). The Buckeyes played in three consecutive NCAA title games, losing to Cincinnati in 1961 and 1962. He also led the Buckeyes to the Final Four in 1968, when the Big Ten co-champion finished third behind a stack offense that featured big men Bill Hosket and Dave Sorenson. He won his last conference title in 1971, conceding he lost much of his motivation after an ugly incident in 1972 at Minnesota, when Golden Gophers players Corky Taylor, Ron Behagen and Dave Winfield attacked Ohio State players in a wild melee. Taylor resigned after the 1975-76 season and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1986. He died on Jan. 6, 2002.
~ content compiled by AP