Transformative ceremonies for St. Francis gym, closing forever

This weekend belongs to Danny Lynch

November 15, 2022 Andy Furman
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DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — It’s being billed as “Legends of Remsen Street.” This weekend, St. Francis College will recognize more than 50 years of athletic excellence at 180 Remsen Street.

Remsen Legends across all sports will be recognized the entire weekend, and ticket packages that include entry to the weekend events, a cocktail reception and a Sunday brunch have been made available through the college.

“180 Remsen has been an incredibly special place for me during my time at St. Francis,” said Irma Garcia, the school’s Athletic Director and former basketball performer, in a prepared statement announcing the weekend’s festivities. “I am honored to have the opportunity to see Remsen Street off in a way only St. Francis can.”

The final two basketball games in Daniel Lynch ’38 Gymnasium will be played when the men host St. Peter’s University Saturday, (Nov. 19th) at 2 p.m.; and the women’s team plays host to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), a day later, at 1 p.m..

Future Terrier basketball games will be played at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute – 200 Willoughby Avenue – the new St. Francis College facility at 179 Livingston Street does not have a basketball facility, but this event truly belongs to Daniel Lynch.

photo of Daniel Lynch and his college coach at St. Francis, Rod Cooney. Photo courtesy of Dan Lynch Jr.

The greatest head coach in the program’s history, Lynch was a graduate of St. Francis College and played basketball for the Terriers from 1943-38 under head coach Rody Cooney.

When Lynch took over in 1948, the Terriers became the first team in the New York City area to have a game televised.

The Terriers defeated Seton Hall in its inaugural telecast on WPIX-TV (Channel 11).

Lynch is the Terrier head coach with the most wins in program history (283). He also served as the school’s Athletic Director and Professor in the Physical Education Department.

And from 1950-56 he guided St. Francis to five-consecutive winning seasons going 121-43. 

The current – and final – home court is appropriately named the Daniel Lynch Gymnasium ’38.

“I think he may have achieved more than any New York City basketball person,” said his son Dan Jr., who coached the Terriers’ baseball team from 1974-79. “Think about it. He was a First-Team All-City high school basketball player (St. Francis Prep), two years; a three-time high school Coach of the Year; a high school City Championship coach and was high-scorer four years at St. Francis College.”

Add to that, over 500 victories as a coach; named All-Met coach three times.

“No one has done it all, but him,” Dan said.

From 1949-51 the Terriers participated in four National Catholic Invitational Tournaments (NCIT). The NCIT was a premier post-season tournament in those years. The Terriers went to the NCIT finals three consecutive times and won the championship in 1951. 

Lynch’s 1950-51 squad defeated the Redhawks of Seattle University, 93-79 in the finals. Ray Rudzinski scored 26 points, Vernon Stokes scored 22 and Roy Reardon scored 21 in the game that took place in Albany, New York.

The Terriers appeared in the 1955 NAIA Division I men’s basketball tournament, losing in the first-round to Quincy University.

Lynch also led the Terriers to three NIT appearances – 1954, ‘56 and ‘63 – the ‘53- ‘54 squad won the Metropolitan New York Conference regular season championship and were invited to the 1954 NIT where they defeated Louisville in the first round before losing to Holy Cross in the quarterfinals.

The 1956 squad made it to the NIT and lost to St. Joseph’s to finish fourth.

The 1955-56 season was the Terriers best. Lynch led them to a 21-4 record, and they were ranked 13th nationally in the AP polls. That squad included legends Al Innis, Dan Mannix, Walt Adamushko and Tony D’Elia. At one point, that team won 18 consecutive games and upset Niagara to reach the NIT semifinals before falling to Dayton.

Dan Lynch during his career at St. Francis. Photo courtesy of Dan Lynch Jr.

The Terriers were the fourth best defensive team in the country in 1963 – they fell to the University of Miami, 71-70 in the NIT – which featured future NBA star Rick Barry.

The St. Francis men’s basketball program was founded in 1896 and is the oldest collegiate program in New York City. The program has won six regular season championships and has participated in four National Invitational Tournaments.

In fact, St. Francis is just one of seven NCAA Division I programs in New York City and in 2011 attending a Terriers game was named one reason to love New York by New York Magazine in their seventh annual Reasons to Love New York 2011 piece.

Originally, the Terriers played most of their home games in their gymnasium at their Butler Street campus – that lasted until 1955. Beginning in the late 1940s the Terriers would also host games at the 14th Regiment Armory in Park Slope.

By 1956, the Terriers were exclusively hosting games at the Park Slope Armory since the college was in the process of moving its campus from Butler Street to Brooklyn Heights.

And in 1960 the Terriers decided to relocate to the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. Occasionally their games could not be played there, because of military drills, as an alternate the Terriers would host games at Bishop Ford High School.

By 1968, the plans for a new gymnasium of their own at the Remsen Street campus was in progress.

Daniel Lynch was a large proponent of the Terriers having their own basketball court and by 1971 they finally had their own gymnasium.

“Lynch 38 Gymnasium has played host to some of the greatest moments and greatest players in program history,” said current men’s basketball coach Glenn Braica. “While we will certainly miss playing in this historic building, we are thrilled to honor our legends around the final games on Remsen Street.”

“Every single person who met my dad,” Dan Jr., said, “From the ticket-takers to the opposing head coaches, considered him a very down-to-earth person who treated everyone the same. He never held a grudge once the game was over; he was a great leader and a great friend.

“We were at a bar once,” he continued, “When an interview with my dad was being shown on TV. The bartender looked at the TV, then looked at my dad sitting at the bar, and was stunned!”

The Daniel Lynch ’38 Gymnasium will be operating for the last time this Saturday and Sunday – the memories will certainly remain. Hopefully so will two more wins.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He served as Sports Information Director for St. Francis College from 1975-77. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR

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