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Sub-Series G: Men's Basketball, 1904-present



  • 1904-present

Biographical / Historical

From the turn of the 20th century, basketball at Manhattan College has been considered at major part of the college's athletics. It was introduced after the football team was disbanded in 1904 as a way of filling the gap in the sports' year. The first game Manhattan played was against the Newark Institute, where they lost 36-21. After six years without a full-time coach, Edward A. Hanrahan took control in the 1910-1911 season. Following Hanrahan were a number of short-term coaches, including Arthur T. Carroll and James Houlihan.

May 15, 1924 marked the dedication of the new college campus in the Bronx, moving from 131st Street and Broadway to 242nd street, and with this new location, athletics blossomed. It was in the years following the move, 1927 specifically, that the team name Jaspers, in honor of Br. Jasper, took hold.

In 1928 the pattern of short-term coaches ended with the appointment of Neil Cohalan to the job.Cohalan,himself, was a Jasper's basketball star. He coached the team for thirteen years wwith many successful seasons.

The 1940s began with a brillant showing by the Manhattan team, under the guidance of coach Joseph Daher, who replaced Cohalan and was appointed to his postion in October 1942. In 1943 Daher led the team to an National Invitational Tournament bid. However, after this season all athletics at Manhattan were disbanded because of the U.S. involvement in WWII and the drastic depletion of students from Manhattan.

The Postwar years saw the continued support and increased popularity in the basketball program at Manhattan. The first season after the Axis surrender was directed by coach "Honey" Russell. In October 1946, Mr. Kenneth Norton replaced Russell as head coach, because Russell became the coach of the Boston Celtics. Throughout these years, the team maintained respectable seasons and played most of their games at Madison Square Garden, as was done in the prewar seasons. In 1948, Manhattan College was invited to send their team down to Kansas City for participate in the National Intercollegiate Basketball Championship. However, the student-body objected on the grounds that black players were barred from this tournament. Although the Japsers had no black team members the school refused to send a team unless this restriction was rescinded. After the NIBC committee heard similar objections from other teams, it voted to allow black players the right to play. This is a fine example of the role Manhattan athletics played in the early beginnings of the civil rights movement.

Manhattan basketball was not always on the right side of national scandals. In 1950 the Jasper's star player, Junius Kellogg, was approached by a former Manhattan player who attempted to bribe Kellogg into throwing a game. The man, who offered Kellogg 1000 dollars, claimed that he and another former teammate had thrown games in previous seasons and did not get caught. Junius Kellogg approached coach Ken Norton, who contacted the proper authorities. This case led to the discovery of a nation-wide points-shaving ring that had been operating for years. Although some Manhattan basketball alumni were involved in this scandal, Kellogg's and Norton's honesty and integrity were beneficial for Manhattan College. A high point in 1950s Manhattan basketball was the teams championship win in the Christmas Festival at Madison Square Garden, in 1956. It was the first time a metropolitan team won the tournament. Manhattan took home the trophy, beating reputable schools, such as Ohio State and Notre Dame. Norton continued to lead the Japsers to new heights and in the 1957-1958 season brought the team to the NCAA tournament, where the Jaspers reached the Eastern Finals.

The 1960s saw a continuation of a relatively successfull basketball team under the auspices of coach Ken Norton, who remained in charge until after the 1968 season. The Jaspers did fluctuate from season to season, but six of the seasons in the 1960s saw more wins than losses.

For the next ten years the team was coached by Jack Powers, who guided the Jaspers through many successful seasons. During his tenure, Powers led Manhattan to four National Invitational Tournaments, two Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference regional qualifying tournaments, and had a collective record of 142 wins against 114 losses. In 1978. Powers stepped down and Brian Mahoney took over the reins of Manhattan basketball. Mahoney's tenure was short-lived and the 1981 season saw the installment of Gordon Chiesa as head coach of Manhattan.

Unforutnately Manhattan basketball of the 1980s was not very noteworthy. All but one of the seasons in this decade saw more losses than wins. In the 1986 season Bob Delle Bovi became head coach, but he did not last long. After only two seasons he resigned his post with a record of 13 wins to 43 losses. One infamous incident involving Bovi came in December 1987 when he pulled his team off the court to protest what he saw as poor officiating. This controversy did not help his image and most likely led to his resignation. The 1980s ended and the 90s began under the helm of coach Steve Lappas, who came from Villanova to become head coach after Bovi's resignation. The 1991-92 team saw a resurgence of Manhattan basketball. He led the team to a 25-9 record and to the quarterfinals of the National Invitational Tournament. Lappas' success did not with the 1991-92 season. In the 1993 season the team secured a spot in the coveted NCAA Tournament and the NIT in 1994.

The 1994-1995 saw the installation of yet another head coach, Fran Fraschilla, who continued the success of Lappas. his first season as coach saw the most winningest season yet with 26 wins and only 5 losses. The end of this season saw Manhattan winning an at-large bid in to the NCAA tournament, where Fraschilla led the Jaspers in an upset against Oklahoma. Although, Manhattan lost the next game to Arizona State, the season was an overwhelming success. Fraschilla ended his tenure at Manhattan after the 1995-1996 season to become the coach at St. John's University in Queens.


From the Record Group: 50 Linear Feet

Repository Details

Part of the Manhattan College Archives Repository

O'Malley Library, Room 200
4513 Manhattan College Parkway
O'Malley Library, Room 200
Riverdale New York 10471 United States