JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Elnardo Webster, who put Saint Peter’s basketball on the map more than a half century ago in leading the Peacocks to the NIT semifinals in 1968, has died. He was 74.
Webster died on Tuesday in Morristown, New Jersey, after being hospitalized with a heart issue, former teammates said.
Pat Finnegan, a member of the ’68 team, said he was in the lobby of the hospital to visit Webster when he received a text message from Webster’s wife, Sandra, that her husband had died.
“He was a wonderful man, kind, spiritual,” Finnegan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday night. “He liked to joke around and be the brunt of his own jokes, too.”
“We lost a good one,” fellow teammate Bob Leckie said in a telephone call from the Florida Keys, where he was vacationing. “Good at Saint Peter’s and good for Saint Peter’s.”
Webster led Saint Peter’s to a 100-71 win over Duke in the second round in the NIT, finishing with 29 points and 14 rebounds. The team lost to Kansas in the semifinals 58-46 and then lost to Notre Dame 81-78 in the consolation game. Webster scored in double figures in all 28 games that year.
For years, that team was the considered the greatest of all time at Saint Peter’s. They recently became a top footnote with the Peacocks’ current team reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament with wins over Kentucky and Murray State last week.
The No. 15 seeded Saint Peter’s (21-11) will face No. 3 seed Purdue (29-7) on Friday in Philadelphia with a berth in the Elite Eight on the line against the winner of the game between North Carolina and UCLA.
Webster averaged 24.1 points and 14.6 rebounds in 1968-69 for a team that went 21-7. A junior college transfer, he scored 1,374 points in two seasons, and ranks No. 11 in scoring in school history.
Drafted by the Knicks in the fourth round of the 1969 NBA Draft, he didn’t make the roster and went to the Eastern League, the ABA and overseas in a seven-year pro career.
A Jersey City, New Jersey, native, Webster graduated and got at master’s degree at Saint Peter’s. He received a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Seton Hall in 2000
The ‘68 team was nicknamed the “Run Baby Run” basketball team. The university’s gym was renovated and opened this season. It is called The Run Baby Run Arena.
After his playing days ended, Webster worked in education. He retired from the position of superintendent for Roselle Public Schools and became a consultant for the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education as a Highly Skilled Professional. More recently, he served as director for Saint Peter’s Center for After School and Expanded Learning.
Besides his wife, Webster is survived by two sons, Elnardo Jr. and Damarko.
The university said arrangements have not been finalized.
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