By Liza Zulick | Staff Writer
David Finoli, a Duquesne alumni, wanted to share the story of Duquesne’s national championship basketball season in 1955. On July 9, 2016, Finoli published “Kings on the Bluff: Duquesne University’s 1955 National Championship Season.”
In 1955, Sihugo Green, Dick Ricketts, Dave Ricketts, Mickey Winograd, Lou Severine, Jim Fallon, Lou Iezzi, Paul Lojpersberger, Ralph Leng, John Nosworthy, Tom Peszko, Bob Schneider, Dudey Moore and Red Manning led Duquesne’s basketball team to its first and only national championship in program history. This was also the only national championship in college basketball that the city of Pittsburgh has ever had.
“I always wanted to know more about the championship that we had especially since the last 37 years, it’s always been the greatest program,” said Finoli.
Finoli’s book, which features a chapter written by Duquesne journalism and public relations professor Robert Healy, includes individual detailed biographies of each player and coach, and a game by game synopsis of the campaign. The book also looks at the history of the NCAA and the African Americans first drafted on the team.
“Until the mid ‘60s the northeastern catholic schools were very aggressive in trying to find the best American basketball players,” Finoli said. “One of the reasons they were very powerful in college basketball was because they really weren’t concerned about the color of skin.”
Duquesne helped to mold the history of African Americans playing in the NCAA. Finoli also added that Duquesne once participated in a tournament in Florida where the opposing coach refused to play the Dukes due to the fact that they had African Americans on the team.
Through the years, Duquesne’s basketball team has changed drastically, especially in the funds provided for the program.
“There is a chapter written in the book basically beginning of the end of the program because they started pulling away from the finances at that point,” Finoli said. “The administration really cut the program in the 80s while I was at school, but I think with president Gormley we have in place administration who can bring the program back.”
Going into writing this book, Finoli was not sure what he was looking for. He simply wanted more information on a topic he was interested in.
“I was going in on this one blind and I found this one to be the most interesting,” Finoli said. “I spent months trying to find out research.”
Eventually Finoli decided to write an entire book due to the number of interesting facts and stories he found around the 1955 championship season.
“Kings on the Bluff: Duquesne University’s 1955 National Championship Season” is available on Amazon. Dukes fans can relive the glory of a basketball national championship through this book and gain hope that current head coach Jim Ferry can return this program to national prominence over the next few years.