James Carney '28 (Basketball, Football, Track & Field)
James Carney played on one of the finest basketball teams in Catholic University history. The renowned “Reindeer,” from 1925-28, posted a record of 38-17 (.691). Carney, who played center, helped form the nucleus of the team with fellow 1977 CUA Hall of Fame inductees John Long, Ray Foley and Bill Harvey.
The Cardinals began the 1926-27 season 6-1 when an 11-0 Fordham team arrived in Brookland. The Rams, one of the nation’s top teams, were riding a 15-game winning streak. Behind Harvey’s game-high 13 points, CUA handed the powerful New Yorkers a 31-23 defeat. The Rams finished 19-2. The Cards also ended American’s 11-game win streak and handed CCNY its only home loss of the season, 13-12.
Carney only scored 47 points that season but was a defensive specialist. CUA’s student newspaper, The Tower, on March 9, 1927, referred to him as “… the best defensive player in the district.”
Carney was elected captain for the 1927-28 campaign, and the Cardinals won their first 10 games – the best start in the program’s first century – en route to a 14-4 ledger. Prior to its game against a strong Duquesne team that would finish 15-7, a Pittsburgh newspaper called CUA, “… a team rated by an Eastern critic as the best college team in the east, if not the best in the country.”
During Carney’s career, a jump ball was held at center court after each made basket. It wasn’t until 1938 that the non-scoring team took the ball out of bounds. Carney jumped center for the Cardinals and, despite not scoring against Duquesne, was a stalwart on defense.
“The defensive play and floor game of Captain Jim Carney was brilliant,” according to The Tower. “Time and time again Carney broke up or blocked passes, and put his team on the offense during most of the game with his fine work on the tap off.”
Carney, from St. Louis, played freshman football and two years on the varsity. He also competed in the shot put and javelin in 1928.