The Saint Peter’s Peacocks have captured the hearts of university basketball enthusiasts during the nation, as their Cinderella strut into the Sweet 16 has set the modest New Jersey school on the map.
The craze has manufactured its way into Rockland County, in which kin of legendary mentor Don Kennedy will host a enjoy celebration at the Pearl River Hotel on Major Street for the Peacocks’ Sweet 16 game from Purdue on Friday night time at 7 p.m.
“It really is phenomenal what is actually going on this year, in particular just after they commemorated the gymnasium to my grandfather, his offense, and the 1968 crew,” said Keith Kennedy, the grandson of Don Kennedy and proprietor of the Pearl River Lodge. “This year’s staff just took the country by storm.”
After capturing a MAAC Tournament title to punch their ticket to the Major Dance, the Peacocks pulled off a first-spherical upset of national powerhouse Kentucky in additional time, then adopted up with a second-round victory about Murray State to progress to the Sweet 16 in Philadelphia.
They turned only the third No. 15 seed in NCAA Match record to attain this phase. It is also the first time that any Saint Peter’s or MAAC workforce has advanced this much.
Their magical operate also provides again memories of yet another unforgettable March minute for Saint Peter’s, when it attained the 1968 NIT Last 4 at Madison Sq. Garden.
While in modern day instances, the NIT is taken care of additional like a consolation tournament and contributors are an afterthought to the 68 teams in the NCAA discipline, the party was extra really-regarded in Kennedy’s time.
That 12 months, his Peacocks defeated Marshall 102-93 in the opening round, then adopted up with a 100-71 upset acquire above leading-rated Duke.
In an era in which there was however no shot clock or a few-point line in school basketball, Saint Peter’s averaged 94 details per match that period.
“My grandfather was a fantastic dude,” said Keith Kennedy, who was 4 at the time of that win over Duke but has read all of the tales. “He was credited with developing the initially actually rapid-break offense. They referred to as it, ‘Run, Infant, Operate.'”
Don Kennedy built a name for himself at the high university level, at the same time coaching at Electric power Memorial and Regis in New York Metropolis, in advance of heading on to turn into the winningest coach at Saint Peter’s. He acquired 323 wins from 1950-72.
The godfather of the Saint Peter’s program was truly born John Wilbur Kennedy, but his childhood nickname “Don” stuck during the many years.
Kennedy lived in Garnerville for extra than a decade until finally passing away in 2004 at 97 a long time outdated.
At the starting of this year, Saint Peter’s compensated homage to the elder Kennedy and his 1968 staff, renaming its recently renovated athletic facility the Operate Little one Operate Arena.
The ceremony was attended by numerous customers of the Kennedy spouse and children, together with Keith.
Many former players were also in attendance, which includes the 1968 team’s star Elnardo Webster, who handed absent last 7 days.
Despite the fact that Keith failed to individually attend Saint Peter’s, several customers of his relatives did, which include his father, Don, and uncle, George, who played for his grandfather.
“As a kid, I was at Saint Peter’s all the time,” Keith Kennedy mentioned. “My grandfather coached there for really some time, so I was at Saint Peter’s consistently.”
Keith Kennedy watched the Peacocks’ opening-round match in opposition to Kentucky with his uncle, George, at the Pearl River Lodge bar, which like Saint Peter’s is in its 150th yr of procedure. His brother, Donald, joined them for the second-spherical video game towards Murray Point out.
“My uncle insisted on the similar exact bar stool, ordering the exact same beverages and the identical foods,” he reported. “Quite superstitious.”
So considerably, the family’s match-working day rituals have labored out, but they’re expecting an even even larger crowd and social gathering to be a part of them on Friday evening.
“We’re likely to have some type of excellent specials and things like that,” Kennedy reported. “We will occur up with some type of peacock shot, one thing blue for the Peacocks.”
What would his grandfather say about this year’s Peacocks?
“I assume he’d say, ‘Run, toddler, run.'”
This write-up initially appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Pearl River Lodge to host Saint Peter’s check out bash for NCAA Sweet 16