Coach and Players of WWII Basketball Teams Set the Standard

Written March 22nd, 2012 by WVaBuckeye

We live in a time today where it would be very difficult to imagine what life was like during the second World War. Our country has been through a lot as of late, but it doesn’t really compare to what the millions of people went through in the 40’s.   My grandfather fought in WWII and Korea and if he were still alive today would be in his 90’s. As it is, he passed away of cancer in 1983 and never spent a lot of time discussing his time in battle. I do know he was a gunner’s mate who manned the big turrets on merchant marine ships and was sunk three different times.  I also know that he was a railroad worker, and eventually worked at an alloy plant, manufacturing steal for the government here in southeast Ohio.

What I did not know about the era he grew up in was how sports in general survived such a harrowing time in our history.

This is the story of one of those teams that flourished during this time and set the standard for success in basketball at THE Ohio State University.

One of the best to wear the Scarlet and Gray

During all of my research for tBBC All-Time Tourney, I have come across some amazing men that have contributed to the history of the basketball program. From Dennis Hopson, the all-time leading scorer — to Jerry Lucas, arguably the best that’s ever played, maybe anywhere. I have enjoyed learning more and more about our great University and it’s basketball program.

When Joe Dexter and I were going through our teams to put into the tourney, we actually discussed putting the team from the 1944 through 1946 seasons in there. What stopped us was the era they came from and we wanted to keep the tourney as modern as possible so that our readers would identify with most of the participants. Clearly we weren’t going to be able to leave the 1960 team out because they are the only National Champion in OSU history. But maybe we should have at least given the 1945 team a chance. Let’s take a look at the 1944 through 1946 squad as a whole.

    Starting Line-ups

1944

Paul Huston

Bob Bowen

Arnold Risen

Donald Grate (C)

Jack Dugger

1945

Paul Huston (C)

Warren Amling

Arnold Risen

Donald Grate

Jack Dugger

1946

Paul Huston

Warren Amling

Jack Underman

Bob Bowen

Ray Snyder (C)

Harold G. Olsen is NOT in the Ohio State Varsity O HOF, longest career for a coach in Basketball at tOSU

He is the longest tenured head coach in the history of Ohio State basketball. Harold G. Olsen is enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame for his efforts as an administrator in the sport nationally. He is given credit for spearheading the effort to create a national tournament that is now known simply as “March Madness” in 1939. He had previously campaigned to have the ten second backcourt rule put in place in 1937. Olsen coached at Ohio State for twenty four seasons from 1922 to 1946 and compiled a record of 260 wins and 196 losses. He won the Big Ten five times during his career and amassed an overall record of 154 wins and 135 losses in conference. Coach Olsen saved his best work for last as his final three teams. All made the final four and with good reason, he had one of the best teams Ohio State would ever see. After his career with the Buckeyes, he enjoyed a short stint with the NBA’s Chicago Stags and would draft his own point guard Paul Huston who was a four year starter for Ohio State from 1944 to 1947. Interestingly enough, Coach Olsen is not in the Ohio State Varsity O Hall of Fame but definitely warrants a look.

 

Before I get into the players of this great Buckeyes team it’s important to note that there were no 1,000 point career scorers. Not one single player who scored 500 points in a season. There was only one player who made All-American during this time and none of the players are listed as Buckeye Greats in the media guide. I had to scrape and scrounge just to find what little records were held by anyone on the team and have had to do a little more research on Paul Huston which will come later.  I say this was one of the best teams in Ohio State history because it had five players that deserve mention.

Don "Buckeye" Grate once threw a baseball 445 feet and 1 inch

Don Grate, a Greenfield, Ohio native, would be the lone player during the 44 through 46 seasons that would receive All-American recognition as a unanimous second team selection in 1945. He was All Big Ten in 44 and 45 and led the team in scoring with 272 points in 21 games. Grate led the Buckeyes out of the East Regional and into the Final Four where they lost to NYU in overtime 70-65. Grate was a two sport star while at tOSU and played two professional sports as well. He played baseball for the Phillies and basketball for the Sheboygan Redskins in the NBA.  Playing at the forward and shooting guard positions for the Buckeyes, “Buckeye” Grate was able to cause mismatch issues with opposing teams being the primary utility player for coach Olsen.

 

Warren Amling will probably hold a unique distinction forever. He is the only member of the College Football Hall of Fame to also start in a Final Four. His primary sport was football and he played during a hot potato era in football. He played for Carroll Widdoes for two years and finished his career with one year head coach Paul Bixler. After the success of Paul Brown at the turn of the decade the Buckeyes struggled to keep coaches. Once Wesley Fesler took over for a few years they found their man in Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes.

Amling was a star on the gridiron and it translated over to the hardwood.  The All-American on the field was an enforcer on the court. He spent two years as a starter under Olsen and was key in their success, which included back to back Final Fours for Warren in ’45 and ’46.

He was inducted into the Varsity O Hall of Fame at tOSU in 1981 for football and basketball. He was inducted into the  College Football HOF in 1984. Amling was drafted by the New York Giants in 1946 and elected to stay in school and practice veterinary medicine.

Arnie Risen spent Ten years in the NBA, 4-time All-Star and 2-time Champion in the NBA

 

Arnie Risen was the starting center for the 1944 and 1945  teams and is considered one of the better athletes to come out of this era having enjoyed ten seasons in the NBA with the Royals and eventually the Boston Celtics. He was an NBA Champion and All-Star with both teams and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1998.

During his time at Ohio State he was an all Big Ten performer and led the team to back to back Final Fours in 1944 and 1945. The Buckeyes were also Big Ten Champs in 1944 and finished second in 1945.

There are virtually no records on two of the fixtures and better players of the teams from 1944 through 1946. Bob Bowen was the team Captain of the 1944 team as well as a starter and Paul Huston was eventually a captain in 1947 but was a starter on all three teams — even as a freshman in 1944. According to records that I have looked up through the official Ohio State website, Bob Bowen didn’t start in 1945 but returned as a starter in 1946.  During the 1944 season, he had nine games in double figure scoring and averaged 9 ppg.

Paul Huston was a four year starter and eventually drafted in 1947 by Harold Olsen and the Chicago Stags of the NBA, where he only played one season. A point guard for the Buckeyes he was selected as all Big Ten in 1946 as well as a second team All-American. He  had several double digit scoring games in his four year career in Columbus. The Xenia, Ohio native was a part of a 1942 team in high school that was inducted into the Xenia Hall of Fame just last year. There’s very little to no information about him in the Ohio State history books. I have contacted a writer from Huston’s home town in hopes of getting more information about him and finding out how we can rectify the situation. Huston is definitely a figure in Ohio State basketball history that belongs in the Varsity O hall of fame along with his head coach Harold Olsen.

As a team, this three year run is only second to the teams from 1960 through 1962, which are getting a lot of mention right now because of the impending match-up with Cincinatti in the NCAA Tournament. They quite possibly would have made the finals of tBBC All-Time Tourney had we had enough information at the time to shed some light on their run. This group of guys made it to the Final Four three straight years but never made it to the championship game losing in the semi’s each time.

 

 

1944 (1-1) Eastern Regional, New York

OSU 57,Temple47 Regional Semifinals

Dartmouth60, OSU 53* Regional Finals/Final Four

1945 (1-1) Eastern Regional, New York

OSU 45,Kentucky37 Regional Semifinals

New YorkU.70, OSU 65 (ot)* Regional Finals/Final Four

1946 (2-1) Eastern Regional, New York

OSU 46, Harvard 38 Regional Semifinals

North Carolina60, OSU 57 (ot)* Regional Finals/Final Four

OSU 63,California45* National 3rd-Place Game

 

It was without a doubt a different era in the game of basketball and in our country. Families everywhere across the land were losing their loved ones in a world war that could have destroyed the shape of sports. What it did is make sports better. People wanted veterans to play for them, and surprisingly the military academies enjoyed their greatest success in sports during the war and after. I for one am very glad that I came across the team by sure luck, because they deserve some recognition for what they accomplished during WWII and for what they represented.

The best of what people love about NCAA basketball is March Madness. Their head coach Harold Olsen is directly responsible for kicking off what we enjoy today and this is probably the first time you have learned of it.

1943-44

W: 15, L: 6; Big Ten: 10-2/1st

(H: 7-3, A: 7-2, N: 1-1)

W/L Opponent OSU-OPP

12/11W Denison……………………………………. 60-49

12/13 LKentucky………………………………….. 28-40

12/28 W @Norfolk Navy …………………………. 62-54

12/29 L @NorfolkNavy …………………………. 36-64

1/1 L @Great Lakes…………………………… 46-52

1/8W Pittsburgh…………………………………. 59-38

1/14W Indiana…………………………………….. 72-46

1/15W Indiana…………………………………….. 74-38

1/22 W @Northwestern ………………………… 40-42

1/24 W @Chicago ………………………………… 83-44

1/28 W @Michigan ………………………………. 53-49

1/29 W @Michigan ………………………………. 52-39

2/4 L Purdue ……………………………………… 49-59

2/5W Purdue……………………………………… 54-37

2/11W Iowa………………………………………… 63-49

2/12W Iowa………………………………………… 56-42

2/18 W @Illinois …………………………………… 52-41

2/19 W @Illinois …………………………………… 54-53

2/25 L DePaul ……………………………………… 49-61

3/24 W *vs.Temple………………………………. 57-47

3/25 L **vs.Dartmouth……………………….. 53-60

* NCAA Eastern Regionals,New York City

** Final Four,New York City

1944-45

W: 15, L: 5; Big Ten: 10-2/2nd

(H: 9-0, A: 5-3, N: 1-2)

W/L Opponent OSU-OPP

12/9 WMichiganState…………………………. 58-31

12/18W Utah………………………………………… 64-36

12/23 L @Kentucky(ot) …………………………. 48-53

12/28 W @Michigan State ……………………… 67-31

12/30 W @Michigan (ot) …………………………. 44-41

1/1 L !@Great Lakes ………………………….. 50-60

1/3W Wyoming………………………………….. 44-36

1/6 L @Purdue ………………………………….. 36-37

1/13 W Northwestern …………………………… 53-46

1/20W Michigan………………………………….. 61-47

1/22W Purdue……………………………………… 50-35

2/3W Wisconsin………………………………… 40-36

2/9 W @Wisconsin …………………………….. 63-34

2/10 W @Northwestern ………………………… 36-32

2/16 L @Illinois…………………………………… 41-56

2/17 W @Indiana …………………………………. 63-45

2/23W Illinois……………………………………… 60-44

2/24W Indiana…………………………………….. 85-52

3/22 W *vs.Kentucky……………………………. 45-37

3/24 L **vs.New York(ot) …………………… 65-70

!Cleveland,Ohio

* NCAA Eastern Regionals,New York City

** Final Four,New York City

1945-46

W: 16, L: 5; Big Ten: 10-2/1st

(H: 9-0, A: 5-3, N: 2-2)

W/L Opponent OSU-OPP

12/4 L !@Wright Field …………………………. 45-47

12/8W Pittsburgh…………………………………. 47-37

12/15 W @Illinois …………………………………… 50-46

12/21W Oregon…………………………………….. 57-41

12/27 WMichiganState…………………………. 62-42

12/29W Michigan………………………………….. 57-40

1/5W Purdue……………………………………… 57-50

1/12W Illinois……………………………………… 41-35

1/19 L @Indiana…………………………………. 39-44

1/21 W @Purdue ………………………………….. 48-38

1/26 L @Michigan………………………………. 46-62

1/28 W Northwestern …………………………… 47-41

1/30 W @Pittsburgh ……………………………… 43-33

2/9W Indiana(ot) ………………………………… 53-52

2/11W Chicago……………………………………. 46-25

2/16 L @MichiganState……………………… 41-64

2/22 W @Chicago ………………………………… 53-31

2/23 W @Northwestern ………………………… 53-46

3/21 W *vs. Harvard ……………………………… 46-38

3/23 L **vs.North Carolina………………….. 57-60

3/26 W **vs.California…………………………. 63-45

!Dayton,Ohio; * NCAA Eastern Regionals,New York City; **

Final Four, New York City

1946 Buckeyes — Final Four/3rd

Front row — Jim Hall, John Lovett, Stan Palmer and Chuck Goldman. Middle row — Bill Biel,Clark Elliott, Wayne Wells, Paul Huston, Ray Snyder, Warren Amling, Bob Bowen, Jack Underman and Wilbur

Johnston. Back row — Head Coach Harold Olsen, Athletic Director L.W. St. John, Assistant Coach Jack

Graf, Dave Hackett, Bob Merrell, Jack Russell, Charles Kuhn, John Wallin, Manager Bob Blake, Trainer

George Busenberg, Manager Jim DeLeone

 

If you’d like to learn more about sports in general and how they actually flourished because of the second world war, go here.

7 Comments

  1. bucknut in the southNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Nice article, WVa! Being a bit older than most Buckeye fans, I remember some of those names, particularly Arnie Risen and Warren Amling. My grandfather (Tucker Smith, Sr.) was head athletic trainer for the Bucks in the thirties. My father, who was in and around the athletic programs all during that time made sure I knew how many great athletes there were in those days (not the least of which was Jesse Owens – I have a pic of my grandfather sitting next to him for a track team picture), and how important it was to be loyal to your school no matter what. OSU’s basketball prowess in the early days of the NCAA is the equal of any other school’s, and it looks like that golden era is back again. Thanks for the research and the article – i would love to see more along these lines.

    [Reply]

    Shawn MeckfesselNo Gravatar
    July 6th, 2012 at 5:05 am

    Hello,

    I was wondering if you know what years your grandfather was trainer. I received a book from Chalie Maag that has his autograph in it. I am trying to find out more info so I can document it.
    Thank you for your time,

    Shawn

    [Reply]

    bucknut in the southNo Gravatar
    July 6th, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Shawn,

    I am going with my memory here, always a tricky proposition, but I believe he was there from 1928 – 1937.

    [Reply]

  2. SarahNo Gravatar
    June 1st, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Great article. My grandfather was Ray Snyder, captain of the 1946 team. It’s always been a family sentiment that this era of basketball deserves more credit (of course) but I am glad to see it being made known by others. Thank you!

    [Reply]

  3. Ross SnyderNo Gravatar
    June 1st, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    My name is Ross Snyder. I am the son of Ray Snyder, captain of the 1946 Buckeyes. I very much enjoyed the article about my Dad’s team, though, admittely just a little sad my Dad was not mentioned more, but I understand. My Dad was the captain of the 1946 team, was high point man for the season, and played at the East vs West all star game at MSG. He also played with Paul Huston on the Xenia High School baskeball team. He also played one season for the Buckkeye baseball team, started as an outfielder for the team, and set the season record for stolen bases that stood for many years. Followoing graduation, he turned down a contract offer from the NBA’s St Louis franchise, electing to teach and coach. Most of his career however was spent working with the YMCA. Ray died in 2005 and is survived by his wife Joan, daughter Rae Ann, and son Ross (me). My Dad was an avid Buckeye fan and thoroughly enjoyed the annual Captains night festivities. I thought you might appreciate this extra information.

    [Reply]

  4. Kyle HustonNo Gravatar
    June 4th, 2014 at 12:03 am

    My name is Kyle Huston I am the grandson of Paul Huston and being that I’m only 16 I never met him and he had passed away before I was born I have always had so many questions about him but all we have are books and stories that we’ve been told and I found this article and I saw the part about my grandfather and my Dad had told me that not to many people liked my grandpa because when he played defense he did what he could get away with and we were even told a story of when he knocked Lou Groza into a popcorn machine and knocked him unconscious so if anyone happens to know anything more on my Grandpa I’d love to know thanks.

    [Reply]

    WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    June 5th, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Kyle, thank you for the comment!! If you visit the following link, there is a lot about him at Ohio State!

    http://grfx.cstv.com/schools/osu/graphics/pdf/m-baskbl/1314_08_History1.pdf

    [Reply]

Comment On Article

Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE
Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE