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Dolph Stanley

Excerpted from: Beloit Magazine (September 1990)
Legendary coach Dolph Stanley dies

     Dolph Stanley, who gained national prominence by coaching Beloit to a 238-57 basketball record that included a record-setting Chicago Stadium victory over DePaul in 1951, died July 9 in Rockford, Ill., his home for the last 30 years. He was 85.

     The courtly and debonair Stanley became coach and athlete director at Beloit in 1945 and remained here for 12 years. His powerhouse teams attained national attention by playing in the 1951 National Invitational Tournament and in arenas from New York's Madison Square Garden to the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Stanley's teams won 40 straight Midwest Conference games and six consecutive titles.

     Some of the most memorable games came during the 1950-51 season, when the Buccaneers crushed Cornell (Iowa) 141-53 to establish a Beloit College Field House scoring record and whipped Ray Meyer's DePaul team 94-60 to break the Chicago Stadium scoring record.

     Among Stanley's starts were Ron Bontemps, '51, captain of the 1952 Gold Medal Olympic team; Johnny Orr, '49, who later coached at the University of Michigan (leading the Wolverines to the national runner-up spot in the 1976 NCAA tournament) and is the current coach at Iowa State; and John Erickson, '49, former head coach at the University of Wisconsin and current director of basketball operations for the Big 8 Conference.

     After leaving Beloit in 1957, Stanley became the athletic director at Drake University. That career was short-lived, however, as he yearned to return to the bench. He began a new coaching career, at a Rockford high school in 1960.

     Over the years, he took five different teams to the Illinois high school championships -- also a record -- appearing in nine quarterfinals.

     In 1944, Stanley led Taylorville High School to a 45-0 record, his only state championship team and the first undefeated titlist in Illinois history.

     Named the all-time Illinois high school coach by the Chicago Tribune, Stanley remained active in coaching, at a private school, until he was 80.

     Stanley was born Jan. 23, 1905. A three-year letterman at Marion, Ill., High School, he scored all of his team's points in a 1924 12-8 overtime victory at Johnston City. He attended Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois.

     What made Stanley's teams so dominant was their advanced style of play, according to Bill Knapton, who succeeded Stanley at Beloit and, after 34 seasons, still is the Buccaneer's coach.

     "He was an innovator," said Knapton, who has a 457-280 career record. "He was one of the real creative geniuses, and his teams exemplified that genius. He was doing things that weren't being done in the 1940s and '50s."

     Stanley's teams had to be in good physical condition because the players tended to be less than giants ("The Lord never gave me tall players," Stanley once lamented). . and because he stressed a fast-break style of play.

     The Buccaneers were so dominant, that in May 1951, after their sixth consecutive Midwest Conference title, Beloit was ousted from the league by a 6-3 vote of its members. No specific charges were leveled, other than the allegation that the College had not conformed to the spirit and principles of the conference, but there was no doubt that Stanley's high-scoring, fast-breaking basketball team that had thrilled spectators across the land was the intended target. Although the action was a blow to the school, it was at least a tribute to Stanly's prowess as a winning coach.

     Survivors include his wife, Marilyn, and a son and a daughter.

     Through the efforts of Don Sudkamp, '49, a memorial scholarship fund has been established at the College.

 

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