| Wins against Kentucky - 0 | Losses against Kentucky - 1 |
Alma Mater: Catholic University 
Hometown: Worcester, MA
Date Born: August 29, 1908
Date Died: November 30, 2001
Overall Record: 155-36 [7 Seasons]
|12/16/1948||Kentucky at Holy Cross||W||51 - 48||(at Boston, MA)|
Obituary - Boston Globe (December 2, 2001)
SHEARY - In Worcester, Nov. 30, at age 93, Lester H. "Buster" Sheary. Longtime basketball coach including several years at Holy Cross College. Husband of the late Mary F. (Connors) Sheary. Father of Mary Frances Coakley of Worcester and Joan L. Sheary of Oklahoma City. He also leaves five grandchildren and a great-grandson.
Funeral Tuesday at 10 a.m. from Athy Memorial Home, 111 Lancaster St. WORCESTER, with a Mass at 11 a.m. in Our Lady of the Rosary Church, 25 Fales St. Worcester. Burail St. John's Cemetery, Worcester. Calling hours Monday 4-8 p.m. in lieu of flowers, donation to the Boys & Girl Club of Worcester, 2 Ionic Ave., Worcester, MA 01608.
Biography - Boston Globe (December 8, 2001)
He Set Bar at Cross
Sheary was more than just coach
by Bob Ryan
How many college basketball coaches retire from a school with a lifetime winning percentage of .811? Well, there's Buster Sheary and then there's um, ah, er ....keep going, you won't find any.
And even if you did, they wouldn't be Lester "Buster" Sheary, who spread good will for 93 years before getting the call from the Big Guy upstairs Nov. 30.
Buster was intimately involved with the program during the true golden era of Holy Cross basketball. He was an assistant under Doggie Julian when the 1947 team won the NCAA championship, and he was the head man from 1948 through 1955, during which time The Cross ruled New England basketball by going 155-36 and winning the 1954 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) when it was no less prestigious than the NCAA affair.
But wins and losses were not the only thing on the minds of the 60- and 70-something men who gathered at Worcester's Our Lady of the Rosary Church to say goodbye to the man they all called "Coach" to the day he died. Just playing for Buster was an experience.
"The best," says Tom Heinsohn. "Just a great guy. We had 15 guys on scholarship, and he watched all of us academically. Thirteen of the 15 were on the dean's list. Buster considered himself an educator and teacher more than he did a coach."
Ever heard of the Old School? Guys from the Old School learned their lessons in Buster's classroom. "Buster was apple pie, motherhood, and the American flag," smiles Bob Cousy, who began his Holy Cross career playing for Buster. "He was the world's role model. If everyone were like Buster, we wouldn't have any problems."
Buster somewhat owed his job to Cousy and his teammates. "When Doggie left to take over the Celtics in 1948, the athletic director Gene Flynn, wanted to conduct some sort of fancy national search," Cousy explains. "We went to him and said that we'd all leave if he didn't give it to Buster."
Though not lacking in the X's and O's department, Buster's calling card was his personality and enthusiasm. "He'd say, 'Just give me five red-blooded American kids, and I'll motivate them,'" recalls Cousy.
The Cooz put his old coach's oratorical skills to good use nearly a quarter-century later. Cousy was head coach of a national team of college players that was barnstorming coast to coast in the spring of 1973 against the Russian national team. This was about seven months after the infamous outrage in Munich, when the basketball gold medal had been stolen away from the Americans when the USSR was given three chances to score the final basket. National emotions were still very raw on the subject.
Cousy summoned his old coach to be an assistant. As time went on, Cousy knew Buster was dying to address the troops. But The Cooz was waiting for the right moment. When they reached Albuquerque, Cousy made his move.
"Understand that I had kept poor Buster zipped up for two weeks," Cousy says. "And then understand what Buster was like. So on the bus to the game in Albuquerque, I said, 'Buster, why don't you do the pregame?'"
"Buster got down on one knee. He used every clichˇ in the books. But as corny as it was, he had those guys mesmerized. They just about broke down the door, and they got up by 20 in something like eight minutes. We never let up. After the game, Bobby Jones came to me and said, 'Coach, that wasn't bad. Who are you going to run in when we get to Indianapolis? Knute Rockne?'"
Buster was football tough. The nickname came from that other sport, in fact, and he had been a great player at Catholic University. "Buster came from a football background, and we played basketball like football," Heinsohn recalls. "You wouldn't believe some of our rebounding drills."
One of Heinsohn's teammates was a New Jersey hot shot ("I won't tell you the name") who wasn't playing as much as he assumed he would. After not playing the young man at all one night, Buster knew what to expect. "You're mad at me, right?" Buster inquired at the next day's practice. "You want to hit me. Well, I'm gonna let you do it."
"We practiced at that old Quonset hut," Heinsohn says. "It was about six or seven basketball courts long. Buster told him to go to the far end and then run full speed and hit him. We're all looking at each other, wondering what's going on, and, of course, the kid doesn't know what to do. He doesn't want to hit the old man. But finally he does what he's told. He comes running full speed at Buster and just as he gets to him, Buster casually lowers his shoulder and flips him. The best part is the kid went on to become a priest."
The apex of the Sheary era was the 1954 NIT, when the Crusaders knocked off St. Francis of Brooklyn, Western Kentucky, and Duquesne to bring home the big prize. The latter two schools posed very different problems, because Western Kentucky was a great running team and Duquesne was a taller, physical squad that came into the game leading the nation in fewest points allowed. But Buster always had an answer for every occasion.
Alluding to the way The Cross had befuddled the bigger Iron Dukes on offense, the Globe's Clif Keane wrote that "Sheary had an answer for it. He kept the middle open for most of the game, slipping in either Tom Heinsohn or Togo Palazzi occasionally."
"That was his 3-2 offense," Heinsohn explains. "It's the exact same offense I used with the Celtics when I had [Dave] Cowens and needed to take advantage of his speed and mobility against the bigger centers. That's the offense that made me an All-American, Togo too."
But the most interesting thing Keane took away from that great triumph in Madison Square Garden was Buster's humility. "Buster has taken less credit than the towel boy," Keane observed.
That's the Buster Sheary they all came to salute Wednesday. Cousy, Heinsohn, Palazzi, Ronnie Perry, Andy Laska, Don Prohovich, and Joe Early (later a congressman) all had to be there. The Rev. Earle Markey, S.J., another Sheary player (HC '53), delivered the eulogy, during which he reminded them of a classic Buster Sheary line. "when you win," Buster would say, "you walk down Main Street. When you lose, you walk the back alley."
"There was a quick way to get to the cemetery," Heinsohn points out. "You go down some side streets. But we made sure they took the long way. Right down the middle of Main Street."
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