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In the News: 1956-1957


From the Daily Pennsylvanian, January 17, 1957:


Villanova Quintet Overwhelms Quakers, 63-47, in City Clash

By Bernie Schmeyer


Pennsylvania is still looking for a City Series victory, and, mainly because of three Wildcats, it didn’t even close to one last night in the televised Palestra doubleheader windup, before 1,181.

Captain Jim Smith (14 points and five helpful assists), Jack Kelly (13 counters) and big Jim Fahey (ten points and 13 important rebounds) just about did the job single-handedly, as Villanova romped to a 63-47 decision over the outmanned Red and Blue.

Of course, on the lumbering strength of Fahey and big Gene O’Pella, 6’5”, 235-pound sophomore, alone, the Cats could probably have finished in a cake-walk. They were just too strong off the boards-even elf-like Al Griffith, 5’10” guard, collared 11 rebounds – and with Penn posting a miserable .242 percentage from the field its lone chance for an upset went down the drain.

The one bright ray in the Penn picture was the announcement that Dick Csencsitz, who incidentally, was the lone Quaker in double figures (12) will share the Player of the Week Award with St. Joseph’s Ray Radszewski and Philadelphia Textile’s “Chick” Barnes, at the Basketball Writers’ luncheon today.

The Cats took the Palestra floor with obvious glee-it was their first home game after seven on the road-as Joe Ryan got them off to a 2-0 lead at 17:53 on a jump shot from the key, and Smith made it 4-0 seconds later on a tap that slipped off John Mangan’s hand. Ryan’s jumper gave the Cats a six-point margin, as Penn failed to capitalize on Villanova’s loose 2-1-2 zone.

Paul Kelso finally broke the Quaker scoring ice with two foul tosses at 15:02. A minute later, the blond Penn sharpshooter collided with Griffith and left the game with an injured left ankle.

Smith’s drive-in and two buckets by O’Pella sandwiched around Fahey’s jump shot provided the Mainliners with a commanding 16-4 lead at the halfway point of the opening round, while the Penn guns remained ominously silent.

It was the driving of Smith and the outside popping and rebounding of Kelly, who paced the Cats with ten first-half points, when he was inserted in the lineup at the halfway mark, that propelled Villanova to its imposing 30-17 halftime spread.

With Fahey and O’Pella controlling the boards with a lumbering ease, and Ryan and Smith ballhawking, Villanova made short shrift of Penn’s ineffective 1-2-2 zone defense early in the second half. Fahey dunked in on a “sleeper,” Griffith hit on a jumper, Smith converted two fouls and O’Pella tapped in a missed foul to vault the Cats into a 38-19 lead with 16 minutes gone.

Then, with seven minutes left, they struck with startling suddenness, as Kelly hit on a jumper, Griffith broke away from the field for a swift basket and Smith drove half the court with a stolen apple to make it ridiculously easy, at 54-33.

Villanova was content, in the closing minutes, to weave the ball around, as the Cats’ coach, Al Severance, offered his second stringers a chance to race up and down the floor in the comic confusion that always accompanies the end of a one-sided contest.

But “The Squire” probably wasn’t doing it out of the kindness of his heart. His Cats meet defending city champions St. Joseph’s on Saturday, and nobody likes to chance injury to his regulars when the subs can do the job.