Oct. 10, 2008
WORCESTER, Mass. - Holy Cross athletic director Richard M. Regan, Jr., announced today that four all-time Crusader basketball greats will be honored at halftime of the November 16 men's basketball game between Holy Cross and St. Joseph's.
George Kaftan '49, Bob Cousy '50, Togo Palazzi '54 and Tom Heinsohn '56 will all be on hand to witness their jerseys being lifted to the Hart Center rafters - the first time Holy Cross has held such a ceremony for any former student-athlete.
"This is going to be one of the biggest events in the history of the Hart Center," Regan said. "These four men were not only accomplished basketball players, but also serve as outstanding representatives of the college. The tradition of Holy Cross student-athletes excelling on and off the playing field is a long and storied one. We are very proud to be honoring four such individuals on November 16."
The former Crusader standouts are the only four basketball players in school history to twice earn first team All-America honors. In addition, each of the four played on a Holy Cross national championship team - Kaftan and Cousy were part of the 1947 NCAA Championship, while Palazzi and Heinsohn were members of the 1954 NIT Champions.
The game is scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon tip off on November 16. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Holy Cross ticket office at 508 793-2573, or by visiting the Holy Cross webpage at www.goholycross.com and clicking on the link for "tickets." Tickets are $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for youth/seniors. The game is expected to sell out early, so fans are encouraged to get their tickets as soon as possible.
Kaftan (1,177 career points) was the first player in school history to top the 1,000 career point mark, and despite playing just three seasons he still ranks 26th on the Crusaders' all-time scoring list. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1947 NCAA Championship team, and earned first team All-America honors in both 1947 and 1948. He was inducted into the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1962.
Cousy (1,775 points) ranks seventh on the HC scoring list. Like Kaftan, he graduated as the school's all-time leading scorer. A member of the 1947 NCAA championship team, Cousy is the only player in Holy Cross history to earn first team All-America honors three times (1948, 1949 and 1950). He was inducted in the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame in its inaugural class of 1956.
Palazzi (1,633 points) ranks 10th on the Holy Cross all-time scoring list. His 1,086 career rebounds are the second-highest total in school history. He was the co-captain of the 1954 NIT Championship team, and earned Most Outstanding Player in that tournament. A two-time first team All-America honoree (1953 and 1954), he was inducted into the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1967. Palazzi returned to Holy Cross in the 1970s, serving as an assistant men's basketball coach for eight seasons, and head coach of the women's basketball team for five years (1981-85).
Heinsohn (1,789 points) has the fifth most points of any Crusader in history, and is also the college's most prolific rebounder. He holds the Holy Cross records for career rebounds (1,254), rebounds in a season (569 in 1956), and rebounds in a game (42 vs. Boston College in 1956). He was selected as the 1956 Crusader of the Year - in just the second year the award had been given. A first team All-America selection in both 1955 and 1956, Heinsohn was inducted into the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1962.
The four men - each of whom was chosen in the first (Cousy, Heinsohn and Palazzi) or second (Kaftan) round of the NBA draft upon graduation from Holy Cross - are also connected by their association with the Boston Celtics. Kaftan played for the Celtics from 1948-50, while Palazzi wore the Green & White from 1954-57.
Cousy (1950-63) and Heinsohn (1956-65) were both inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame after outstanding careers with the Celtics. During his tenure in Boston, Cousy was part of six NBA championship teams while Heinsohn's Celtic teams won eight championships. In 1957, Cousy was the NBA Most Valuable Player while Heinsohn won the league's Rookie of the Year award. It is one of just two times in NBA history where the awards were won by different players from the same college. UCLA graduates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lakers) and Sidney Wicks (Trailblazers) performed the feat in 1972.
While the jerseys of the four players are being lifted to the rafters, their numbers are not officially being retired. While at Holy Cross, Kaftan wore #12, Cousy wore #17, Palazzi wore #22 and Heinsohn wore #24. Current Crusader junior Adam May (Mentor, Ohio) will be wearing #12 this season, while sophomore Andrew Beinert (Floral Park, N.Y.) wears #22. Cousy's number is no longer eligible to be being worn at the collegiate level, as it is an illegal jersey number per NCAA regulations established in 1957.