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S.I. Ranks Canisius 1956 NCAA Win As Biggest Upset Ever

11:38 PM, Apr 8, 2013   |    comments
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Buffalo, N.Y. - Recently, Sports Illustrated ranked the greatest upsets ever in the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament.

At the top of the list at number one? It was Canisius College's 1956 four overtime win over North Carolina State.

If there was ever a David versus Goliath game, this was it.

North Carolina State was a powerhouse - it came into the tournament with a 24-3 record, and had won the ACC tournament.

It had a legendary coach in Everett Case and an All American center, Ronnie Shavlik.

Coming into the tournament, N.C. State was ranked second in the country and the experts believed the team would wind up in the championship game.

Before the game against Canisius at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Canisius' star forward, Hank Nowak remembered that Case, the N.C. State coach, provided Canisius with some bulletin board material when he met with reporters.

Hank Nowak: "They asked him to comment on Canisius basketball and he said 'hell I can't even spell Canisius or pronounce Canisius.'"

Within a day, Case would learn a lot about the small school with the funny name.

Nowak said despite N.C. State's record and its reputation, Canisius wasn't intimidated.

Hank Nowak: "We knew they could only put five men on the court at the same time so we knew if we played tough we could get lucky. If we played as a team both defensively and offensively we could stay with them."

And stay with them they did.

Canisius coach Joe Curran came up with a plan to double and triple teamed Shavlik, state's All American center.

Hank Nowak: "I think we surprised them by the tenacity we could show as a team. Everybody helped everyone on both offense and defense. We probably had an advantage because we did play so well as a team."

The game was tied at the end of regulation, and at the end of the first overtime, and the second overtime, and the third overtime.

In the fourth overtime, Canisius was down by a point with time running out when its sixth man, Frank Corcoran got the ball.

Frank Corcoran: "I knew we didn't have much time- either we make something or get fouled or do something, but it had to be in the next few seconds. I was probably around the top of the key, maybe a little bit closer and let it go and it went in and I heard the crowd go crazy."

Final score: Canisius 79 mighty N.C. State 78.

Corcoran was carried off the court by his teammates and some of the 400 Canisius fans who had made the trip to New York City for the game.

Hank Nowak played every minute of the game, 60 in all, and led all scorers with 29 points.

After the game he could barely stand up.

Hank Nowak: "I was a tired little guy at the end."

Canisius went on to win another game in the tournament before being knocked out one game shy of making the Final Four.

Although Nowak was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks, he chose instead to go to law school.

Nowak wound up having a pretty good post-basketball career: he served for 10 years as Erie County Comptroller and then 18 years as a congressman from Buffalo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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