Joe Cipriano (basketball)

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Joe Cipriano
Joe Cipriano (basketball coach).jpg
circa 1970
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1931-10-27)October 27, 1931
Sumas, Washington
Died November 25, 1980(1980-11-25) (aged 49)
Lincoln, Nebraska
Playing career
1950–1953 Washington
Position(s) guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1953–1960 Washington (asst.)
1960–1963 Idaho
1963–1980 Nebraska
Head coaching record
Overall 297-231 (.563)
Accomplishments and honors

Joe Cipriano (October 27, 1931 – November 25, 1980) was an American college basketball coach, the head coach at the University of Idaho and the University of Nebraska.

Playing career[edit]

Born in Sumas in northwest Washington,[1] he was an all-state guard known as "Slippery Joe" at Nooksack Valley High School in Whatcom County and graduated in 1949.[2] "Jumping Joe"[3] was an All-PCC 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[4] and the Huskies advanced to the 1953 Final Four in Kansas City, Missouri, and finished third.[5][6]

Assistant coach[edit]

After graduation, he was the freshman coach at Washington and later an assistant coach under Dye and Johnny Grayson.[7][8]

Head coach[edit]


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.[9] 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.[6][10][11] 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.[1]

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.[10][12] The two head coaches had played against each other 27 years earlier, as guards in the Pacific Coast Conference.[11] 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.[13]

Cipriano spent his final week at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln,[14][15] and is buried at Lincoln Memorial Park in Lincoln.

Career coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Idaho Vandals (Independent) (1960–1963)
1960-61 Idaho 10-16
1961-62 Idaho 13-13
1962-63 Idaho 20-6
Idaho: 43-35
Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big 8) (1963–1980)
1963-64 Nebraska 7-18 5-9 T-6th
1964-65 Nebraska 10-15 5-9 T-6th
1965-66 Nebraska 20-5 12-2 2nd
1966-67 Nebraska 16-9 10-4 T-2nd NIT - 1st round
1967-68 Nebraska 15-10 8-6 T-3rd
1968-69 Nebraska 12-14 5-9 T-6th
1969-70 Nebraska 16-9 7-7 T-3rd
1970-71 Nebraska 18-8 8-6 4th
1971-72 Nebraska 14-12 7-7 4th
1972-73 Nebraska 9-17 4-10 T-6th
1973-74 Nebraska 14-12 7-7 4th
1974-75 Nebraska 14-12 7-7 4th
1975-76 Nebraska 19-8 10-4 3rd
1976-77 Nebraska 16-13 7-7 5th
1977-78 Nebraska 22-8 9-5 2nd NIT - 2nd round
1978-79 Nebraska 14-13 7-7 5th
1979-80 Nebraska 18-13 8-6 T-2nd NIT - 1st round
Nebraska: 254-196 126-112
Total: 297-231

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ a b "Cipriano dies at 49". St. Joseph News-Press. Missouri. Associated Press. November 25, 1980. p. 1B. 
  2. ^ Hewins, Jack (November 7, 1949). "Must be more of one Cipriano". Ellensburg Daily Record. Washington. Associated Press. p. 6. 
  3. ^ ""Jumpin' Joe" Cipriano bounds high past Idaho for score". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. (photo). January 7, 1952. p. 8. 
  4. ^ "Joe Cipriano leads Washington to 60-47 victory over California". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. March 7, 1953. p. 2. 
  5. ^ "Cipriano loses battle with cancer". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. UPI. November 25, 1980. p. 19. 
  6. ^ a b 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. 
  7. ^ Missildine, Harry (March 20, 1960). "Idaho opens coach search". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 16. 
  8. ^ Missildine, Harry (March 20, 1963). "Cipriano departs with best wishes". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 16. 
  9. ^ "Idaho hires Cipriano as head cage coach". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. May 23, 1960. p. 9. 
  10. ^ a b Emerson, Paul (January 7, 1980). "Fighting back: Joe Cipriano". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. p. 1C. 
  11. ^ a b Van Sickel, Charlie (November 25, 1980). "Cipriano: One speed only". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. p. 19. 
  12. ^ Missildine, Harry (November 20, 1979). "Joe Cipriano: a cage career marked by humor, success". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 24. 
  13. ^ Emerson, Paul (January 3, 1980). "Vandals de-husk Nebraska, 64-55". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. p. 1B. 
  14. ^ "Former Husky star Joe Cipriano dies". Ellensburg Daily Record. Washington. Associated Press. November 25, 1980. p. 9. 
  15. ^ "Cancer claims Cipriano". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. wire services. November 26, 1980. p. 5C. 

External links[edit]