1952 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team

Games of the XVth Olympiad -- 1952

  • Date:
    Jun 10, 2010

Helsinki, Finland - July 14 - August 2, 1952


For the first time since 1912, the Soviet Union elected to send selected athletes and teams to the Olympics. With the U.S. engaged in a bitter cold war struggle against the USSR, an American-Soviet Union match-up was viewed as exciting and politically important.

1952 USA RESULTS (8-0)
USA 66 Hungary 48
USA 72 Czechoslovakia 47
USA 57 Uruguay 44
USA 86 USSR 58
USA 103 Chile 55
USA 57 Brazil 53
USA 85 Argentina 76
USA 36 USSR 25
1952 OLYMPIC GAMES FINAL STANDINGS
1. USA (8-0) 9. Canada (3-3)
2. Soviet Union (6-2) 10. Cuba (1-4
3. Uruguay (5-3) 11. Czechoslovakia (1-2)
4. France (5-3) 12. Egypt (3-3)
5. Chile (4-4) 13. Finland (0-3)
6. Brazil (4-4) 14. Hungary (2-4)
7. Bulgaria (4-4) 15. Mexico (1-2)
8. France (4-4) 16. Philippines (3-2)

The U.S. Olympic Committee had also modified its format for the selection of the U.S. team. Invited to the trials were the NCAA winner and runner-up, the champions of the NAIB (predecessor of the NAIA), the top four AAU teams and the winner of the National Invitational Tournament. In the end, the 14-member USA team was made up by seven University of Kansas team members, five members of the AAU Peoria Caterpillars and two Phillips 66ers.

Opening versus Hungary, the Americans behind Dan Pippin's 13 points, secured a 66-48 victory. Czechoslovakia fell the following day 72-47 as Robert Kurland led the U.S. with 14 points. The U.S. struggled before disposing of Uruguay 57-44 as Kurland scored 21 points. With both teams undefeated, for the first time in Olympic history the Americans met the Soviets in their first quarterfinal game. In the highly aggressive and physical battle that saw six Americans and four Soviet players foul out, the U.S. crushed the Soviets 86-58 as Kurland scored 15 and Robert Kenny and Clyde Lovellette added 14 points each.

With Lovellette erupting for 25 points, Chile was overrun by the U.S., 103-55. Brazil gave the U.S. men a scare. Trailing 26-24 at half, the U.S. rallied to claim a 57-53 win, then, thanks to a 27-point performance by Lovellette, the U.S. managed to slip past Argentina 85-76 and earn a trip to the Olympic finals.

Meeting the Soviets in the finals, who still had only loss to the U.S., this time it was a winner-take-all gold medal game. The USSR, learning from its earlier loss, stuck to a strategy of tight defense and a full court stall. After 10 minutes the U.S. led 4-3. Just prior to halftime the U.S. managed a basket and grabbed a 17-15 halftime lead. The Soviets stayed with their tight defense and actually regained the lead early in the second half. But the U.S. foiled the Soviet Union's upset attempt by shooting well from the outside. After pulling ahead by nine, the U.S. began its own stall causing one distraught Soviet player to stage a temporary sit-down strike at midcourt. The Americans eventually went on to win, 36-25. Lovellette led the USA offense with nine points, while Kurland added eight points.

1952 U.S. MEN'S OLYMPIC TEAM ROSTER

NAME POS HGT WGT AGE SCHOOL HOMETOWN
Ronald Bontemps G 6-2 175 25 Peoria Caterpillars (Illinois) Morton, IL
Marcus Freiberger C 6-11 215 23 Peoria Caterpillars (Oklahoma) Greenville, TX
Wayne Glasgow G/F 6-3 190 26 Phillips 66ers (Oklahoma) Bartlesville, OK
Charles Hoag G/F 6-2 185 20 University of Kansas Topeka, KS
William Hougland G 6-4 180 22 University of Kansas Wichita, KS
John Keller G/F 6-3 185 23 University of Kansas Great Bend, KS
Melvin Kelley G 5-11 165 20 University of Kansas Morton, IL
Robert Kenney G 6-2 185 21 University of Kansas Winnfield, KS
Robert Kurland C 7-0 220 27 Phillips 66ers (Oklahoma St.) Batlesville, KS
William Lienhard F 6-5 180 22 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
Clyde Lovellette F 6-9 230 22 University of Kansas Terry Haute, IN
Frank McCabe F 6-8 225 25 Peoria Caterpillars (Marquette) Chicago, IL
Dan Pippin G 6-1 170 25 Peoria Caterpillars (Missouri) Waynesville, MO
Howard Williams G 6-0 168 24 Peoria Caterpillars (Purdue) New Ross, IN
HEAD COACH: Warren Womble, Peoria Caterpillars (Peoria, IL)
ASSISTANT COACH: Forrest(Phog) Allen, University of Kansas
MANAGER: Howard Hobson, University of Oregon
ASSISTANT MANAGER: James Coogan, New Haven, CT
ATHLETIC TRAINER: Eddie Zanzaai, Princeton University

1952 U.S. MEN'S OLYMPIC TEAM CUMULATIVE STATISTICS

NAME G FGM-FGA PCT
FTM-FTA
PCT
PF
PTS/AVG
Clyde Lovellette 7 39-
21- 26
.808
21
99/ 14.1
Robert Kenney 7 27-
22- 28
.786
14
76/ 10.9
Robert Kurland 7 24-
19- 26
.731
19
67/ 9.6
Ronald Bontemps 8 16-
25- 28
.893
11
57/ 7.1
Dan Pippin 8 23-
10- 14
.714
18
56/ 7.0
Marcus Freiberger 7 15-
14- 18
.778
25
44/ 6.3
William Hougland 8 20-
8- 15
.533
19
48/ 6.0
Wayne Glasgow 6 10-
7- 7
1.000
17
27/ 4.5
William Lienhard 4 5-
6- 8
.750
12
16/ 4.0
Howard Williams 8 11-
5- 9
.556
15
27/ 3.4
Frank McCabe 6 6-
6- 9
.667
13
18/ 3.0
Charles Hoag 7 8-
4- 6
.667
13
20/ 2.9
John Keller 2 1-
1- 1
1.000
1
3/ 1.5
Melvin Kelley 6 1-
2- 5
.400
10
4/ 0.7
USA TOTALS 8 206-
150-200
.750
208
562/ 70.3
OPP. TOTALS 8 118-
170-250
.680
180
406/ 50.8

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