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A biography of former Lafayette basketball coach William “Butch” van Breda Kolff written by alumnus Paul Luscombe ’60 has just been published. The book, Play the Game Right: The Biography of Butch van Breda Kolff, is available from AtlasBooks and will be for sale ($27.95) at the Maroon Club Hall of Fame induction Nov. 16. Luscombe will be available at the dinner to sign copies of his book. Alumni can also order the book through AtlasBooks or by calling 1-800-247-6553.

Shortly after retiring from a long career on Wall Street, Luscombe ’60 watched a videotape of the men’s basketball historic 1988 upset victory over Notre Dame at Kirby Sports Center in which the underdog Leopards captured a 15-point victory over the visiting Fighting Irish, who went to the NCAA tournament that season. The game attracted national attention at the time.

Luscombe had attended the game, and found it “a fabulous experience.” He had found a topic he could sink his teeth into and decided to pen a book about the game, which became Play the Game Right.

Luscombe entered Lafayette one year after van Breda Kolff finished his first period as head men’s basketball coach from 1951-55. Twenty- four years and several coaching experiences later, van Breda Kolff returned for his second round of coaching the Leopards, 1984-88.

The book began as a recap of the Notre Dame game, and then a short piece about van Breda Kolff’s career at Lafayette. Before it was over, Luscombe managed to write a biography spanning van Breda Kolff’s father’s time on the Netherland’s Olympic team in the 1912 Stockholm games to his own retirement in Florida.

“Coach van Breda Kolff slipped out of the picture after he retired from Lafayette,” says Luscombe, even though he coached six more years at Hofstra. “Hopefully this book will revive his legacy and reveal the kind of person he was as a very colorful coach and man.”

In his eight seasons with the Leopards, van Breda Kolff compiled a 132-85 record, and led the Leopards to their first-ever postseason appearance when they were invited to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in 1955. Over the years, he coached some of Lafayette’s most talented basketball players including Jim Radcliff ’57, Stu Murray ’57, Otis Ellis ’89, Gary Bennett ’86, Ron Reynolds ’87, Tony Duckett ’85, Stan Morse ’85, Andy Wescoe ’90, and Matt Roberts ’90.

Van Breda Kolff coached Princeton to three 20-win seasons and came within two victories of the NCAA championship in former Presidential candidate and NBA star Bill Bradley’s senior year. His coaching experiences took him to the University of New Orleans and several NBA teams before he retired as head coach at Hofstra at age 71.

Categorized in: Alumni