John J. Long '28 (Basketball, Football, Basketball Coach)
Before John Long became the first Catholic University basketball coach to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament, he helped form the nucleus of the 1925-28 “Reindeer.” Teaming with fellow 1977 CUA Hall of Fame inductees Ray Foley, Jim Carney and Bill Harvey, Long and the “Reindeer” produced a 38-17 (.691) record. The “Big Four” played together under Fred Rice, Sr. for four seasons, including their first year on the freshman team.
Long, who played forward and was nicknamed “Bear,” was the Cardinals’ leading scorer as a sophomore in 1925-26 with 160 points on 67 field goals and 26 free throws. He tallied 21 points in a 51-26 win over West Virginia, 14 in a 47-27 loss at Penn State and 14 in a 49-23 victory over Gallaudet. The team finished 11-8. He scored a team-leading 214 points as a senior.
In 1943, Long was hired to coach CUA. Inheriting a team that not posted a winning season in eight years, he made the most of his only year at the helm. The Cards started strong by winning seven of their first eight contests. His starting center, Fred Rice, Jr., was a son of the man who coached Long.
CUA continued to roll and hung a 24-point defeat on Delaware, a 20-point loss on Maryland and a 30-point shellacking on Johns Hopkins. The Cardinals entered the Mason-Dixon Conference Tournament with a 16-4 record and defeated host Delaware, 64-37, in the opening round. CUA’s hopes of winning the event were dashed with a 48-45 loss at Loyola (Md.).
Despite the setback, the Cardinals were invited to the eight-team 1944 NCAA Tournament for the first time. They traveled to New York’s Madison Square Garden and lost to Dartmouth in the single-elimination tournament. CUA subsequently fell to Temple in the regional third-place game to finish 17-7.
With World War II raging in Europe and the Pacific and male enrollment down, the basketball program was suspended in 1944–45. Long did not rejoin the team. In three years on the varsity and one year coaching, Long helped the Cardinals go 55-24 (.696).