Former Canisius College head men's basketball coach Joseph Curran passed away Jan. 28, in Mystic, Conn. at the age of 89. Curran served as the Golden Griffins' bench boss for six season from 1953-59, where he compiled a career record of 76-66.
Curran, who also served as the College's athletic director, led Canisius to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1955-57. The only head coach in program history to win an NCAA Tournament game, Curran helped guide the Griffs to a 79-78 four-overtime victory over No. 2 North Carolina State in Madison Square Garden in 1956. That game is widely regarded as one of the greatest upsets in NCAA Tournament history. In the 1957 national tournament, Curran's squad held former West Virginia great Rod Hundley to 17 points as the Blue and Gold eliminated the Mountaineers in the East Region quarterfinal round with a 64-56 win.
"Joe had great success, leading us to three-straight NCAA Tournaments. He was always well-mannered and under control and even received an award from the referees for his outstanding behavior on the bench," Canisius Sports Hall of Famer Hank Nowak '57 said. "Joe was a true gentleman, on and off the court, and someone the whole Canisius family can be proud of. He personified what a Canisius man can accomplish."
Curran was born in Hornell, N.Y., and served in the U.S. Navy in World War II in the Pacific for three years. While in the U.S. Naval Officer Training program, he was educated at Canisius, Cornell and Penn State, from which he graduated after the war and went on to receive his master's degree in economics. He also played basketball while attending Penn State.
The son of the late James and Mary Curran, he is survived by his wife, Eileen, his daughters Dorothy and her husband, Bernard Roesch, Josephine and Maureen; his son, Peter; and his grandchildren, Jean-Philippe, Eleonore and Anne-Claire.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend visiting hours on Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. in Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home, located at 59 Spruce St., in Westerly, R.I. A Mass of Christian Burial followed by graveside military honors will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Westerly Hospital, 25 Wells St., Westerly, R.I., 02891, in his memory.