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Dedication of court well-deserved honor

November 27, 2011
The Herald-Star

When members of the men's and women's basketball teams at the Franciscan University of Steubenville take to the court in the Finnegan Fieldhouse, the legacy of one of the Tri-State Area's - and the nation's - all-time great coaches will always be with them.

That's because they will be playing on the Kuzma Court.

The court, named in honor of legendary coach Hank Kuzma, was dedicated Nov. 16 during the annual Kuzma Community Night.

Kuzma is recognized as one of top coaches of his time, earning accolades while directing the Barons and the high school team in Midland, Pa.

Two of the players from his teams there, Norm Van Lier and Simmie Hill, would end up at the top of their profession while playing in the National Basketball Association and American Basketball Association.

His efforts while coaching at the then-College of Steubenville helped to put the young school on the map. Prior to his arrival in our city, the Barons had a record of 33-60. Under Kuzma's direction between 1954 and 1958, the Barons were 95-19.

That success led to the team being selected as the No. 1 small-college team in the country by voters in the United Press International poll following the 1957-58 season. Kuzma's work also was recognized, and he was named the small college coach of the year.

Those accomplishments are impressive, but they represent just a portion of what Kuzma has accomplished at the university. Through his efforts as a fundraiser, Kuzma was influential in the construction of the fieldhouse, the expansion at the J.C. Williams Center, the acquisition of the St. Joseph Center and many other campus improvements.

Members of Kuzma's family, area residents and the university staff were among those who attended the dedication, which was held between the men's and women's basketball games.

It is a fitting honor for a man whose efforts have helped strengthen the university and our community.

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