The Times West Virginian


June 25, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN: Don Vincent was standout on WVU’s only No. 1 basketball team

MORGANTOWN — Don Vincent of nearby Shinnston was an outstanding guard on the most successful men’s basketball team in West Virginia University’s history.

That was in 1957-58 when the Mountaineers lost only to Duke by just four points in Durham, North Carolina, and finished the regular season with a 26-1 record and ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Unfortunately, Vincent broke a leg in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament at Richmond, Virginia. That was an 81-76 win against home-standing University of Richmond.

WVU then defeated William & Mary for the title without Vincent. But the Mountaineers were shockingly upset by Manhattan 89-84 in the first round of that year’s NCAA Tournament in Madison Square Garden.

During that WVU Golden Era of basketball, this 70-year veteran of sports reporting thought Vincent and Joedy Gardner were the best pair of backcourt performers I’ve ever seen in college competition.

Both were standouts not only in 1957-58 as seniors but also on teams of the previous two varsity seasons that posted records of 21-9 and 25-5.

The incomparable guard Jerry West and forward Willie Akers, who are still best friends, were other starters on that 1957-58 team. But they both were untested newcomers to varsity competition as sophomores.

So both Vincent and Gardner were named captains along with All-America center Lloyd Sharrar. Both Sharrar and Gardner were recruited from close high schools in Pennsylvania.

We’re talking about extremely talented basketball players, many of whom are already members of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. A couple of them have yet to be elected to that shrine.

All were recruited and coached by the late Fred Schaus, himself an All-American here in the late 1940s. He returned to his alma mater and held the coaching reins from 1955-60.

Schaus’ six-year record, 146-37, is the school’s best ever percentage-wise (79.8) and it ranks third in total victories. His teams also own the all-time record with six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

Don Vincent, who’s 79, lived at the late Ann DiNardi’s house on Beechurst Avenue. So did Jerry West and several other basketball players.

It was just a stone’s throw from the old Field House (now Stansbury Hall), where the Mountaineers practiced and played home games.

“We all got along very well together,” Vincent recalled recently. “We also got close to our fans, many of whom traveled with us for games away from home.

“Those were truly good ol’ times.”

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound playmaker had an impressive set of statistics for his three-year career. Vincent played in 86 games, averaging 28.8 minutes per outing.

He made 316 field goals in 769 attempts (41.1 percent) and cashed 145 of 263 free throws (71.4) for 780 points. He also grabbed 379 rebounds and dished out 135 assists.

Don and wife Jean Vincent have been married for about 56 years. They have two grown children, son Brett and daughter Jane Linn Citro.

There are three grandchildren: Kyle Citro, Cole Vincent and Ella Citro.

After graduating from WVU, Vincent taught at Bridgeport and Clarksburg Victory High School for about five years. Then he worked for the Hillyard Co. based in Missouri. Five years later he started selling automobiles in Clarksburg.

He has been retired for about 10 years and is now taking life easy.

Text Only
  • Return to Mountain State exciting for new sports writer

    When I packed my belongings out of my Morgantown apartment in May, fresh with a journalism degree from West Virginia University, I thought I had ended a chapter of my life and closed the book on my experience inside the great Mountain State forever.
    It wasn’t until I received a phone call back in my hometown of Canton, Ohio, from the Times West Virginian that the idea of a return to the area became a possibility. The opportunity to begin my professional career in an area that I’ve become comfortable with for the past several years was too good to pass by.

    July 29, 2014

  • Black Diamond.jpg Black Diamond Express looking to add elite players

     Travel sports are said to be the cream of the crop for young athletes.
    Generally, youth are selected to play on travel league teams based upon a heightened skill level or an ability that exceeds the everyday athlete.
    That’s what the Black Diamond Express softball team in Morgantown is looking for, along with a few new elite players.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers’ Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 28, 2014

  • All tickets claimed for LeBron’s homecoming show

    LeBron James’ Ohio hometown says fans quickly claimed the thousands of tickets available for the homecoming event expected to be his first public appearance in the state since announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    July 28, 2014

  • FSU to hold Falcon Fantasy Camp

    Ever want to be a college football coach? Now you’ll have your chance thanks to Fairmont State University’s Falcon Fantasy Camp.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lawyer: Wife plotted to take over Sterling trust

    A lawyer argued Monday that the estranged wife of Donald Sterling plotted to strip his client from the family trust that owned the Los Angeles Clippers after the head of the NBA said she couldn’t negotiate a sale of the franchise unless she owned all the shares.

    July 28, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • Steelers’ Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014

  • Post 17 #7 Post 2 #12 mw.JPG Post 17 falls short in Area II championship

    Sometimes getting a bad game out of your system is what a team needs.
    Post 17 Fairmont is hoping that they’ve now gotten all of its bad games out of the way, falling to Post 2 Morgantown, 10-0, via a 7th inning mercy rule, crowning Morgantown Area II American Legion champions.
    After playing 18 innings the night before, Fairmont couldn’t seem to get anything going at East Fairmont High School Sunday afternoon.
    As rain clouds loomed over the field, so, too, did one settle in over Post 17’s offense, Fairmont collecting just four hits the entire game.
    “Definitely not one of our better games as a team,” Fairmont’s Austin Norman said of his team’s performance. “We’ll come up tomorrow, hit and get on the same page.”

    July 28, 2014 7 Photos

  • Harrison’s 4 hits leads Pirates past Rockies, 7-5

    Josh Harrison had four hits, including a tiebreaking homer, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 7-5 on Sunday.

    July 27, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos