WHEN WE REACHED THE finals of the 1948 National Invitational Tournament, I'm sure there were a lot of people around the country saying, "St. Louis University? I didn't know they had a team. I've never heard of them."
But we did have a team, and a pretty darn good one, too. And although a lot of other people hadn't heard of us and didn't give us much of a chance to win the NIT, we felt we could go into Madison Square Garden and beat New York University.
Back then, the NIT was huge. It was as big, if not bigger, than the NCAA Tournament is now. Back then, they moved the NCAA Tournament title game around to Kansas City and places like that, and there we were playing in the Garden. There was no comparison.
Madison Square Garden was the center of college basketball back then. There was so much excitement in the building. It didn't hurt, too, that there was a lot of gambling on college games at the time.
Until 1946 or '47, St. Louis had never done much in the Missouri Valley Conference. We were always on a lower rung than Oklahoma A&M and Midwest powers Kansas and Indiana. That finally changed in 1947, when we did well in the NIT. The crowd at Madison Square Garden really liked us because we had a fast-break team. Our coach was Eddie Hickey, and he loved to play fast-break basketball. We'd get the ball and just start running. The Garden fans loved us because with that style, they never knew what was going to happen on the court.
By 1948, we had finally arrived. We'd finished behind Oklahoma A&M in the Missouri Valley Conference race, but we entered the NIT with only three losses. We played Bowling Green in the first game of the tournament. They had Charlie Share, a big 7'0" center who went on to play several seasons in the NBA. We ended up beating Share and Bowling Green, then we beat Western Kentucky. That put us into the final.
NYU had a good team. Of course, they bad one of the best players of all time in Dolph Schayes. He was an amazing player, with amazing skills. They also had some other good players, including Ray Lumpp, who went on to play a few seasons in the NBA with the New York Knicks.
Most people looked at NYU's great reputation and the fact the game was being played in New York and figured' we were the underdog. Plus, the Violets had won 19 straight games heading into the final.
But we had beaten Holy Cross and Bob Cousy, and we had beaten Yale. So, in our minds, we could play with anyone, even if everyone across the nation was asking, "What's a billiken?" (By the way, a billiken is a good luck charm that was all the rave 80 or 90 years ago. Then someone in the 1930s said that St. Louis football coach John Bender looked like a billiken, so the team became know as Bender's Billikens. The name stuck, even though no one back in 1948 knew what a billiken was and nowadays I'm sure absolutely no one knows what it is.)
In the first half, we proved we could play with NYU. It was a close game. But in the second half, we just took control. We were the type of team that if we got a lead on you, it was difficult to catch us because we would keep running.
In the second half, we were up by double digits for most of the way. We didn't want to coast, though. When there's only five minutes left in the game, everyone's saying, "Oh, they have the game locked up now." But that's not how you look at it as a player. You never know what's going to happen, you keep going and playing hard.
We ended up winning, 66-52. I finished with 24 points and was named the tournament MVP. We held Schayes to eight points, which was amazing. I had the reputation of being a defensive player. We tried to do what a lot of teams hadn't done before--play in front of the offensive man. Until then, teams just played behind the offensive man.
I ended up playing against Schayes in the pros for 10 years, so I know that to hold him in check like we did took the efforts of the whole ballclub, not just one player. It just wasn't me who held him down. You had to protect against the pass over the top, backdoor plays, and everything else you could imagine. One man alone can't do all that.
I've played in some other memorable games. In the very next season, 1949, we met Kentucky early in the season at the Sugar Bowl in Texas. Back in those days, prior to the football game they would hold a basketball tournament. We beat Holy Cross and Cousy, and Kentucky beat Tulane. We met Kentucky in the finals and we were both undefeated. They were considered the favorites in that game. They had a lot of good players: Wah Wah Jones, Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, and others. We ended up winning.
Another big game for me came in 1958 when I was on the St. Louis Hawks team that won the NBA title. Bob Pettit had 50 points in the final game as we defeated my former team, the Boston Celtics.
But the game I'll never forget was the 1948 NIT final. That game brought a lot of recognition for the school and the city. Last season, St. Louis was one of the cities the Vancouver Grizzlies were considering moving to. I've seen St. Louis go crazy for basketball. I've seen that town really support a team. They loved us, especially after we won the NIT.
And after we won the title, people stopped asking "Who in the world is St. Louis University?"
Ed Macauley's Career Statistics SEASON TEAM G FG% FT% REB 1949-50 St. Louis Bombers 67 .398 .718 -- 1950-51 Boston Celtics 68 .466 .759 616 1951-52 Boston Celtics 66 .432 .799 529 1952-53 Boston Celtics 69 .452 .750 629 1953-54 Boston Celtics 71 .486 .758 571 1954-55 Boston Celtics 71 .424 .792 600 1955-56 Boston Celtics 71 .422 .794 422 1956-57 St. Louis Hawks 72 .419 .749 440 1957-58 St. Louis Hawks 72 .428 .724 478 1958-59 St. Louis Hawks 14 .293 .600 40 REGULAR SEASON TOTALS 641 .436 .761 4,325 POSTSEASON TOTALS 47 .437 .729 337 SEASON AST PTS RPG APG PPG 1949-50 200 1,081 -- 3.0 16.1 1950-51 252 1,384 9.1 3.7 20.4 1951-52 232 1,264 8.0 3.5 19.2 1952-53 280 1,402 9.1 4.1 20.3 1953-54 271 1,344 8.0 3.8 18.9 1954-55 275 1,248 8.5 3.9 17.6 1955-56 211 1,240 5.9 3.0 17.5 1956-57 202 1,187 6.1 2.8 16.5 1957-58 143 1,019 6.6 2.0 14.2 1958-59 13 65 2.9 0.9 4.6 REGULAR SEASON TOTALS 2,079 11,234 7.5 3.2 17.5 POSTSEASON TOTALS 128 648 6.6 2.9 13.8 1948 NIT Championship March 17, 1948: at Madison Square Garden, New York City St. Louis University 65, New York University 52 St. Louis (65) FG FTM PF PTS D.C. Wilcutt 7 2 1 16 Marv Schatzman 1 1 3 3 Cordia 1 0 0 2 Joe Ossola 1 3 2 5 J. Schmidt 1 1 0 3 Wrape 0 0 2 0 Ed Macauley 11 2 2 24 Bob Schmidt 1 4 3 6 Lou Lehman 0 2 2 2 Miller 2 0 0 4 Raymonds 0 0 1 0 Totals 25 15 16 65 NYU (52) FG FTM PF PTS Kelley 0 1 3 1 Joel Kaufman 6 2 3 14 Ray Lumpp 5 4 2 14 Barry 1 1 0 3 Dolph Schayes 4 0 1 8 Joe Dolhon 3 1 2 7 Kor 0 0 0 0 DeBonis 1 0 0 2 Derderian 0 0 3 0 Benanti 1 0 0 2 Daniel Quilty 0 1 0 1 Totals 21 10 14 52 Free-throw percentage: St. Louis University .750, New York University .588. Officials: Begovich and Abcatola.
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ED MACAULEY SOLD HIS INTERESTS IN A cable television venture in St. Louis a few years back and deiced to retire. He wanted to spend more time with is wife of almost 50 years, Jackie, their seven kids, and 17 grandchildren.
But retirement also has given him a lot more time to devote to church. About 10 years ago, Macauley, the youngest player ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, became a deacon in the Catholic Church. He has specialized in writing homilies, and has even begun to give others across the country and the world pointers on how to write better sermons.
"I've written a book with Monsignor Francis Friedl called "Homilies Alive: Creating Homilies That Hit Home," Macauley says. "I give the homilies in our church, and we do workshops with other priests and deacons and Protestant ministers on this subject."
In fact, Macauley has started his own Web site, www.homiliesalive.com, as a storage house of homilies for others around the globe to read and use.
"The Web site last week had just under 3,000 visitors," Macauley says. "That's 150,000 a year. There's a lot of Web sites that get 12,000 hits a minute, but not for homilies.
"We have 40 or so priests and deacons and people from other countries that write the homilies for us. It's been a lot of fun. We've gotten good reviews from our workshops and great reviews on our book."
Macauley got rave reviews as one of the best big men in the NBA during the 1950s. The college player of the year in 1949, he finished fifth in the league in scoring as a rookie with the St. Louis Bombers. When the Bombers folded, New York Knicks owner Ned Irish wanted Macauley so much that he tried to buy the St. Louis franchise for $50,000. Commissioner Maurice Podoloff nixed the deal and awarded Macauley to the Boston Celtics, where he became the first in a long line of great Celtics centers
"We didn't win much with the Celtics," Macauley says. "We didn't get past the first round most years, although we had Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, and myself We didn't have real size. I was 185, 190 pounds and playing against George Mikan and Vern Mikkelsen and Sweetwater Clifton and people like that."
Nicknamed "Easy Ed" for his fluid movements on the floor, Macauley was named MVP of the first All-Star Game in 1951, although he didn't find out about it until two years later.
"They didn't select an MVP after the first game," he says. "[The All-Star Game] wasn't a big thing back then No one wanted to have it. Finally, [Celtics owner] Walter Brown said, `I'll have it at the Garden.' But there was no hoopla. Guys came, played, and went home. They had it at the Garden the next year. Again, no hoopla.
"Then all these people starting selecting MVPs of this and that, so they said, `Shouldn't we have had one in our games, too?' So they selected me the MVP of the first All-Star Game two years later. People just love that story. They say, `You didn't find out about it until two years later?'"
In his six years with the Celtics, Macauley finished third in the league in scoring twice, fourth in the league twice, eighth once, and 10th once. But before the 1955-56 season, Macauley was dealt with fellow future Hall-of-Famer Cliff Hagan to the St. Louis Hawks in one of the biggest trades in NBA history. In return, the Celtics selected second in the draft, where they had their eye on a center from San Francisco.
"They traded for me for a guy, I don't know what ever happened to him. His name was Bill Russell," Macauley jokes. "I don't know if he ever succeeded or not."
Playing back in his hometown, Macauley helped the Hawks win the NBA title in 1958, where they bested the Celtics in the Finals. The next season, Macauley assumed the coaching reins for St. Louis. He would retire as a player during the 1958-59 season, finishing with 17.5 ppg and 6.7 rpg over 641 regular-season games. But he stayed on as coach and led the Hawks to two first-place finishes in the Western Conference.
At the end of the 1959-60 season, Macauley stepped down as coach. Later that year, at 32, he was elected to the Hall of Fame.
Today, Macauley's greatest thrill is watching his grandchildren grow up. Nolan is the tallest in his kindergarten class and loves soccer. "He's quiet," Macauley says. "I'll say, `Nolan, did your team win?' He'll say, `Yep.' I'll say, `What was the score?' He'll say, `5-3.' I'll say, `Did you get any goals?' He'll say, `Yep.' I'll say, `Well, how many?' He'll say, `Five.'" Another of his grandchildren, Patrick, once drove in 13 runs in a Little League game.
Sounds like they inherited some of grandpa's athleticism.