Troy State players to be honored

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, January 28, 2010

This weekend the Troy University Alumni Association invited back to campus the former basketball players that played for Dr. Leonard Serfustini and legendary coach John Archer.

The public is invited to meet and greet these former players this Saturday afternoon at a reception from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Adams Center Ballroom at Troy University.

The banquet is at 2:30 p.m.

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The former players will be introduced at halftime of the Troy-South Alabama basketball game Saturday night.

Coach Serfustini wa hired by then Athletic Director, Earl Watson to be Troy State Teachers College’s new basketball coach in 1951.

It didn’t take the former University of Buffalo star athlete long to win at Troy State.

In only his second year, Serfustini’s Red Wave team went 18-7 in the 1952-53 season.

The next year, the Red Wave led by players like Leon Davis, Bobby Davis, Dick Mueller, Bill Travis, Bill joiner and Kenny Hilyer, “Serfs” 1953-54 team posted a 22-6 record.

His five-year overall record was 75-52.

Serfustini was an outstanding teacher in the physical education department and also served as head tennis coach and assistant football coach.

Ten years ago, Serfustini met one more time with over 30 of this former players at Troy in one of the most heartwarming and rewarding events I’ve ever been a part of.

Dr. Serfustini died on Dec. 3, 2009 at his home in St. Petersburg, Fla. at the age of 85.

Coach John Archer became the Red Wave basketball coach in 1956.

All he did was win 19 games in his first season, 20 games in his second and during his first 12 years his teams averaged 21.85 wins per season.

In his first three years at Troy, his teams went to the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City.

In 17 years, Archer’s team won over 20 games eight different times, 19 games four times and 18 games once.

His overall record was 304-185 from 1956 to 1973.

His 1957-58 team finished 20-6 and in the NAIA Tournament.

The 1960-1962 tearsm where led by Paul Word of Eufaula, one of Troy’s best, Frank Miller, George Norton, Jud Dye, Hamil Martin, Ralph Nash, scored 43 points against St. Bernard, Jeff Cook, Bill Dixon, David Gingold, David Watson, Bob Pace, Mike Sexton and Noel Martin.

The 1961-62 team finished 25-6 and was one of Archer’s best teams ever.

Losing great players like Word and Miller would make some coaches pull their hair out but the winning teams kept coming with new stars like Ronnie Hays, from Mobile, John Duce, Clayton Bryant, from Straughn, William Thigpen, from Greenville, Tommy Whitehurst, from Kinston, Charles Clark, from New Brockton, and Terry Wilkerson, from Camden, were equal to the task.

Duce was the big man scoring 42 points in one game. All those guys did was win over 20 games a year from 1962 to 1965.

To keep on winning and winning big games all Archer had to do was drive to Samson and get 6-foot-6-inch Steve Holley, to Ozark, and 6-foot-5-inch Lamar Andrews, and to Mobile to get 6-foot-5-inch Doug Carmichael for Troy to have its biggest front line ever.

They finished 24-9 in 1965-66 and 26-7 in 1966-67, Archer’s best two season records.

From 1956 to 1968, 12 years, Archer’s home record at the old Wright Hall gym and later Sartain Hall was an amazing 164-16.

In the last five years, his best team’s record was 14-15 in 1971-72.

Some more of Archer’s players expected to attend this weekend are Rodger Caldwell, Billy Walls, Steve Close, the great brother trio of Cleve Hollis, Carl Hollis and Harris Hollis, Charles Cornelius, Sonny Forrester, Tim Goolsby, Levoid Greene, Sherrill Hicks, W.T. Henry, Bob Hawkins, Joe Martin, Jake Popham, Harold Reynolds, “Moose” Spears, Ron Stewart, William Earl Walker, Learnest Martin, James Cleveland, Kim Pociasik and coaches William Davis and Billy Gamble.

Archer retired after the 1972-73 season and continued teaching tennis and intramural sports at Troy.

To know john Archer was to love him.

He was a “hoot.”

After retirement and open heart surgery, Archer played his beloved game of golf at the Troy Country Club.

It was there that Archer did something in one week what all the great golfers will probably never do, make two holes-in-one.

He is not with us anymore, but a lot of us “Po boys” out there will never forget him.

It should be a great weekend of all of Archer’s and Serfustini’s former players and for me, I’ll be like a kid again simply because many of those guys were my heroes when i was a young boy.