Joe Cipriano (basketball)
October 27, 1931|
|Died||November 25, 1980
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
Born in Sumas in northwest Washington, he was an all-state guard known as "Slippery Joe" at Nooksack Valley High School in Whatcom County and graduated in 1949. Cipriano was an all-Coast guard in college under coach Tippy Dye at Washington, and led the Huskies to a 79-15 (.840) record in his three years on the varsity. In his senior season, the engergetic Cipriano and the Huskies advanced to the 1953 Final Four in Kansas City, Missouri, and finished third.
At age 28, Cipriano became the head coach at the University of Idaho in May 1960. He succeeded Dave Strack, who left after a single season in Moscow to return to Michigan as the head coach. Cipriano's Vandal teams improved each year and went 43–35 (.551) in three seasons. His most notable player was future NBA star Gus Johnson, the tenth overall selection in the 1963 NBA Draft and a future hall of famer. After the successful 20-6 (.769) season in 1962-63, Johnson turned professional and Cipriano moved east to Nebraska.
In March 1963, Cipriano became the head basketball coach at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, hired by his former mentor, Tippy Dye, who became the NU athletic director a year earlier. Cipriano ran the Big Eight basketball program for over 17 years, until he lost his 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer in Lincoln in November 1980 at age 49. He compiled a record of 254–196 (.564) with the Huskers, the winningest basketball coach in NU history, with 168 more wins than any previous head coach.
Less than a year before his death, Cipriano returned to Moscow when his Huskers took on Don Monson's Vandals in the Kibbie Dome in early January. The two head coaches had played against each other seventeen years earlier, as guards in the Pacific Coast Conference. Though it was played before classes resumed, it was the second-highest attendance for a basketball game to date at the Dome, then in its fifth season.
Cipriano is buried at Lincoln Memorial Park in Lincoln.
Career coaching record
|Idaho Vandals (Independent) (1960–1963)|
|Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big 8) (1963–1980)|
|1966-67||Nebraska||16-9||10-4||T-2nd||NIT - 1st round|
|1977-78||Nebraska||22-8||9-5||2nd||NIT - 2nd round|
|1979-80||Nebraska||18-13||8-6||T-2nd||NIT - 1st round|
- "Cipriano dies at 49". St. Joseph News-Press. Associated Press. November 25, 1980. p. 1B.
- Hewins, Jack (November 7, 1949). "Must be more of one Cipriano". Ellensburg Daily Record. Associated Press. p. 6.
- "Joe Cipriano leads Washington to 60-47 victory over California". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. March 7, 1953. p. 2.
- "Cipriano loses battle with cancer". Spokane Daily Chronicle. UPI. November 25, 1980. p. 19.
- Smith, Craig (March 23, 1993). "The Game - 40 years have passed since Washington, Seattle U. met in city's Game of the Century". Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- Missildine, Harry (March 20, 1960). "Idaho opens coach search". Spokesman-Review. p. 16.
- Missildine, Harry (March 20, 1963). "Cipriano departs with best wishes". Spokesman-Review. p. 16.
- "Idaho hires Cipriano as head cage coach". Spokesman-Review. May 23, 1960. p. 9.
- Emerson, Paul (January 7, 1980). "Fighting back: Joe Cipriano". Lewiston Morning Tribune. p. 1C.
- Van Sickel, Charlie (November 25, 1980). "Cipriano: One speed only". Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 19.
- Missildine, Harry (November 20, 1979). "Joe Cipriano: a cage career marked by humor, success". Spokesman-Review. p. 24.
- Emerson, Paul (January 3, 1980). "Vandals de-husk Nebraska, 64-55". Lewiston Morning Tribune. p. 1B.
- Go Huskies.com - University of Washington athletics - Joe Cipriano
- The New York Times.com - Joe Cipriano's obituary
- Joe Cipriano at Find a Grave