Both the NCAA and SEC put Kentucky's basketball program on the shelf for the entire 1952–53 season, grounding Rupp and the Wildcats not for any involvement with gamblers, but for recruiting violations.

Meanwhile, Indiana (19–3) rose to No.1 in the final AP Top 20 and wound up meeting third-ranked Kansas (back despite the graduation of Clyde Lovellette and three other starters) in the NCAA final at Kansas City. The Hoosiers won, but needed a Bob Leonard free throw with 27 seconds left. Indiana's 6-10 center Don Schlundt had 30 points in the final, but Kansas' 6-9 center B.H. Born was named the outstanding player of the tournament with 28 points against Washington in the semifinals and 26 more against Indiana.

Back in New York, the 12–team NIT field narrowed to a Seton Hall-St. John's final with the Hall, led by 6-10 center Walter Dukes, winning 58–46.

The one-and-one free throw was introduced and both team and individual scoring averages soared. Frank Selvy of Furman led the nation in scoring with a record 29.5 points a game (he would hit 41.7 in 1954) while the Paladins averaged over 90 points an outing. Another rule change ended the option of waiving free throws in favor of taking the ball out of bounds.


NCAA Tournament (22 teams)

East Regionals

West Regionals



at Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City


Indiana 80, LSU 67


Kansas 79, Washington 53

Third Place

Washington 88, LSU 69


Indiana 69, Kansas 68

Most Outstanding Player

B.H. Born, Kansas


Born and Dean Kelley, Kansas


Bob Leonard and Don Schlundt, Indiana


Bob Houbregs, Washington

Consensus All-America (In alphabetical order)

  First Team

·         Ernie Beck, Penn

·         Walt Dukes, Seton Hall

·         Tom Gola, La Salle

·         Bob Houbregs, Washington

·         Johnny O'Brien, Seattle

  Second Team

·         Dick Knostman, Kansas St.

·         Bob Pettit, LSU

·         Joe Richey, BYU

·         Don Schlundt, Indiana

·         Frank Selvy, Furman


1. Indiana
2. Seton Hall
3. Kansas
4. Washington
5. LSU
6. LaSalle
7. St. John's
8. Oklahoma State
9. Duquesne
10. Notre Dame


1. Indiana
2. Washington
3. LaSalle
4. Seton Hall
5. Kansas
6. LSU
7. Oklahoma State
8. N.C. State
9. Kansas State
10. Illinois

NCAA Results

First Round:
Notre Dame 72, Eastern Kentucky 57
DePaul 74, Miami (Ohio) 72
Holy Cross 87, Navy 74
Lebanon Valley (Pa.) 80, Fordham 67
Seattle 88, Idaho State 77
Santa Clara 81, Hardin-Simmons (Tex.) 56

Regional Semifinals

Notre Dame 69, Penn 57
Indiana 82, DePaul 80
Holy Cross 79, Wake Forest 71
Louisiana State 89, Lebanon Valley (Pa.) 76
Kansas 73, Oklahoma City 65
Oklahoma A&M 71, Texas Christian 54
Washington 92, Seattle 70
Santa Clara 67, Wyoming 52

Regional Third Place

East: Penn 90, DePaul 70; Wake Forest 91, Lebanon Valley (Pa.) 71
West: Texas Christian 58, Oklahoma City 56; Seattle 80, Wyoming 64

Regional Finals

East: Indiana 79, Notre Dame 66; Louisiana State 81, Holy Cross 73
West: Kansas 61, Oklahoma A&M 55; Washington 74, Santa Clara 62

National Semifinals: Indiana 80, Louisiana State 67; Kansas 79, Washington 53
National Third Place: Washington 88, Louisiana State 69
Championship Game: Indiana 69, Kansas 68.

Indiana Regulars: F Charles Kraak, Jr.; F Dick Farley, Jr.; C Don Schlundt, So.; G Bob Leonard, Jr.; G Burke Scott, So

All-NCAA Tournament Team





B.H. Born




Bob Houbregs




Don Schlundt




Dean Kelley




Bob Leonard





Site: Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, Mo.

Most Outstanding Player: B.H. Born, Kansas

The tournament expanded from 16 to 22 teams; the field would vary from 22 to 25 teams until 1968. In the final, Indiana's Bob "Slick" Leonard was fouled with 27 seconds left in a 68-68 game. He missed the first shot but hit the second to put the Hoosiers ahead. Kansas held the ball waiting for a good shot, but reserve Jerry Alberts had to throw one up in the final seconds. It missed.

Notable Performance: Washington star Bob Houbregs scored 18 in the first half of a semifinal against Kansas but fouled out early in the third quarter. Houbregs had scored a tourney-record 45 in the regional semifinals against Seattle and later had 42 in the third-place win over LSU.

Significant Fact: Born, who scored 25 and 26 points in the Final Four, became the first player from a non-championship team to be named MOP.

It's a Small World: This was a rematch of the 1940 final, with IU coach Branch McCracken once again getting the better of KU coach Phog Allen.

Swan Song: Lebanon Valley College (Pa.) made its only NCAA appearance, beating Fordham 80-67 in the first round before losing to LSU 89-76.

Future First-Round Picks: Records are incomplete for drafts from 1947-56.

Top 10





Post-Season Result




NCAA 1st Place


Seton Hall


NIT 1st Place




NCAA 2nd Place




NCAA 3rd Place


Louisiana State


NCAA 4th Place


La Salle


Lost NIT quarterfinals


St. John’s


NIT 2nd Place


Oklahoma State


Lost NCAA regionals




NIT 3rd Place


Notre Dame


Lost NCAA regionals


All-America Team






Ernie Beck




Tom Gola


La Salle


Walter Dukes


Seton Hall


Bob Houbregs




Johnny O’Brien




Offense: Furman, 90.2
Defense: Oklahoma State, 53.8

Individual Scoring

Frank Selvy



Larry Hennessey



Johnny O’Brien



Walter Dukes

Seton Hall


Ernie Beck



Bob Houbregs





Ed Conlin



Walter Dukes

Seton Hall


Bill Chambers

William & Mary



• Seton Hall won the NIT, defeating St. John’s 58-46 behind Walter Dukes’ 21 points.

• William & Mary’s Bill Chambers set a record with 51 rebounds vs. Virginia.

• Scoring champion Frank Selvy had a nation-high 63 points vs. Mercer.

Little Hoosiers stand tall


By JOE GERGEN   For The Sporting News


By all measurements save one, Branch McCracken had enjoyed an enormously successful coaching career at his alma mater. He had won nearly 75 percent of his games at Indiana, struggled through only one losing season (in the aftermath of World War II) and directed the Hoosiers to the championship of the second NCAA Tournament.

The only thing missing from his portfolio as the 1953 season approached was a Big Ten Conference basketball title.

Curiously, the Hoosiers had finished second in the conference race seven times in his 11 years. McCracken still was teaching the same style of run-and-gun, and his players were executing the fast break as well as any team in the nation, but Indiana consistently was hampered by a lack of size.

The coach hadn't been able to recruit the big center so essential in the postwar era.

He thought he had his man in 1948 when Indiana high school star Clyde Lovellette, a 6-foot-9 prospect from Terre Haute, visited the campus and indicated he'd be returning soon with his belongings. Instead, he enrolled at Kansas. McCracken made do with a 6-2 center, and Indiana remained competitive but unfulfilled.

Don Schlundt changed that. He was a skinny 6-6 pivotman when McCracken came across him during a trip to South Bend, Ind. The youngster had shot up in his last two years of high school and showed signs of future growth as well. Not willing to take the same chance on this prospect as he did on Lovellette, McCracken suggested that Schlundt enroll in summer school, which he did.

When Schlundt reported for his sophomore season (1953), he stood 6-9. Furthermore, he was able to shoot with either hand and was not reluctant to use his elbows.

McCracken had struck it rich.

The final piece of the puzzle was fitted into place when the coach moved 6-3 junior Bob Leonard from forward to guard, filling the position vacated by Sam Esposito, who had signed a professional baseball contract.

Leonard was a natural leader and the perfect triggerman for the break. Indiana was a beautifully balanced club with junior forwards Dick Farley, an outstanding defender and Charles Kraak, a superior rebounder, surrounding Schlundt and sophomore Burke Scott, a fine ballhandler, opposite Leonard. The Hoosiers were young but smooth, in the image of Leonard -- who, in fact, answered to "Slick".

Indiana lost two of its first three games, both at the buzzer, in advance of the conference schedule. But the Hoosiers were ready for the Big Ten opener against Michigan. Their 88-60 victory was a glimpse into the future.

Opponents attempted to slow down Indiana, but the Hoosiers countered with pressure defense and forced the pace to their liking. McCracken's team reeled off 13 consecutive victories in conference play before hosting arch-rival Purdue at home. With the aid of a remarkable 4l-point quarter, Indiana demolished the Boilermakers, 113-78.

Defending conference champion Illinois was next on the schedule. In cramped Huff Gymnasium on the Illinois campus, the Hoosiers mauled the Illini. Indiana led 82-62 at one stage before settling for a 91-79 victory. McCracken finally had his Big Ten championship and was carried off the court on his players' shoulders.

Even a two-point loss at Minnesota -- again at the buzzer -- in the next-to-last game of the regular season failed to dent Indiana's confidence. The Hoosiers finished the round-robin Big Ten schedule with a 17-1 record and survived two difficult games in the East Regional.

In their first NCAA Tournament game, the Hoosiers slipped past DePaul, 82-80. The next evening, Indiana atoned for one of its three last-second defeats by routing Notre Dame, 79-66, as Schlundt established a Chicago Stadium scoring record with 41 points.

Despite its outstanding season, Indiana was not a commanding favorite as the survivors of the East and West regionals gathered in Kansas City for the Final Four. Many thought Washington, whose 6-7 center Bob Houbregs was the finest practitioner of the hook shot thus far in the modern era, was the team to beat.

The Huskies, directed by Tippy Dye, former Ohio State coach, had stormed to a 27-2 regular-season record and advanced easily through their half of the West Regional bracket at Corvallis, Ore., to gain a berth in Kansas City.

Bob Pettit, an aggressive 6-9 junior, had led once-beaten Louisiana State to victory in its half of the Eastern Regional at Raleigh, N.C. Of the four national semifinalists, in fact, only Kansas was an unexpected visitor.

With the graduation of Lovellette and three other starters from the 1952 national championship team, the Jayhawks were expected to struggle. But B.H. Born, a 6-9 junior, proved to be more than adequate as a replacement for Lovellette, and the rest of the starters, none taller than 6-1, transformed Phog Allen's pressure defense into a lethal weapon.

Kansas narrowly won the Big Seven Conference title and then overcame Oklahoma City and Oklahoma A&M in the Manhattan, Kan., portion of the West Regional.

Indiana's Leonard had a hot hand in the semifinals and his long shots opened the middle for Schlundt, who then ripped open LSU's defense. The guard had 22 points and the center 29 in the Hoosiers' 80-67 triumph for the Eastern title. Pettit's 29-point performance simply was not enough against Indiana's superior firepower.

The Hoosiers were feeling pretty good as they trooped out of their dressing room to watch the second game between Washington and Kansas. Their expressions changed in the course of the first half as the Jayhawks' press caused repeated turnovers and eventual panic. Leonard thought Kansas was awesome and said so to his backcourt partner, Scott.

"How are we ever going to beat this team?" he wondered.

By the time Kansas had made its 21st and last steal and completed a 79-53 demolition of the Huskies for the Western championship, the Hoosiers were back in their hotel wondering and fretting about the outcome of their season. Clearly, the Jayhawks were playing at the top of their game and would be a difficult opponent, particularly with a crowd composed largely of Kansas rooters.

It was no small irony that Indiana, in its first trip to the title game since 1940, would be facing the same team on the same court it did 13 years earlier. And the presence of a Phog Allen team served to heighten the drama. McCracken had neither forgotten nor forgiven Lovellette's "defection." The final was a classic in every sense of the word.

Indiana and Kansas met pressure with pressure. Neither team cracked.

Kansas held the biggest lead of the game, at 39-33, in the first half while Schlundt was on the bench with three fouls. His return sparked the Hoosiers to an 8-2 run and a 41-41 halftime tie.

Dean Kelley had been particularly effective against Leonard in the first 20 minutes, holding him to one basket. But the Indiana captain became more of a force in the third quarter as the intensity mounted. Late in the period, officials whistled a foul on Born. According to the scorers, it was his fifth. He had fouled out.

But Allen hustled to the scorer's table. The Kansas book, he said, showed Born with only four fouls. The scorers rechecked and determined Allen was correct. McCracken raged along the sidelines.

"Your book shows five personals," the Indiana coach shouted. "Born should be out. We're your guest and you re robbing us."

Born did foul out, but not until midway through the fourth quarter. By then, the strain was showing on both sides. Schlundt and Leonard each had been charged with a technical for questioning an official's call in an indelicate manner.

Then, with the Hoosiers clinging to a 68-65 lead -- their largest margin -- late in the game, Kraak was called for charging, his fifth foul, and angrily slammed the ball. The subsequent technical gave Kansas three free throws and possession of the ball.

Fortunately for Kraak, junior forward Hal Patterson made only one of two free throws after the personal and Al Kelley, Dean's brother and Kansas' No. 2 scorer in the '53 season, failed on the technical. But Dean Kelley's drive succeeded in tying the score at 68-68. There were 65 seconds remaining.

Indiana attempted to work the ball for a final shot but Dean Kelley bumped Leonard, sending him to the foul line with 27 seconds left. He missed the first attempt and Allen called a timeout to make Leonard stew over the failure.

"I had been to the line so much under pressure all season," Leonard said.

He took his time, measured the shot and made it. The Hoosiers led, 69-68.

Allen had a play for just such an occasion. It called for the Jayhawks to run precisely 22 seconds off the clock while setting up Al Kelley for a short jump shot. But when the time came, the opening wasn't there.

Surrounded by defenders, Kelley passed to Jerry Alberts, a rarely-used reserve who had replaced Born, in the corner. Alberts had no choice but to shoot as the clock ran down. It was an off-balance shot from a difficult angle. Still, Leonard tensed. The Hoosiers' only three losses had come amid just such a last-ditch scenario.

"I thought," Leonard said, " 'Please don't let this go through.' "

It did not. Indiana grabbed the rebound. The national championship belonged to the Hoosiers. Although Schlundt had scored 30 points and Kraak 17, Leonard had emerged the hero with his 12th point.

In the dressing room, a beaming McCracken told reporters that his captain "had ice water in his veins." The description war relayed to Leonard.

"If that was ice water," the player said, "it sure felt warm to me." Then he smiled.


Copyright © 1997 The Sporting News. All rights reserved.