THOMAS JOSEPH GOLA (January 13, 1933 – January 26, 2014) was an American basketball player and politician. He is widely considered one of the greatest NCAA basketball players of all-time.
* 1 Early life * 2 La Salle * 3 NBA
* 4 Return to La Salle
* 4.1 Record
* 5 Political career * 6 Personal * 7 College basketball achievements * 8 Pro basketball achievements * 9 See also * 10 References * 11 External links
Gola was the oldest of seven children born to Ike and Helen Gola.
Gola's father was a
Gola was one of the most talented collegiate athletes in Philadelphia sports history. He came to national attention while playing for the hometown La Salle University Explorers men\'s basketball team.
Gola starred as a college freshman and led La Salle to the 1952 N.I.T. championship . Gola paced the Explorers to the NCAA basketball championship in 1954 and was named Tournament MVP. That same season he was selected as National Player of the Year. As a senior, Gola helped La Salle finish as the runner-up in the 1955 NCAA Tournament. He averaged 20.9 points and 19.0 rebounds during 115 games and holds the NCAA record with 2,201 career rebounds. At 6'6" (198 cm), Gola was clearly a forward who could shoot/score, rebound and defend, but he also had the ballhandling (dribbling, passing) skills of a guard, and with his shooting range and All-Pro defensive skills, could play just as well in the backcourt. He was inducted into the La Salle Hall of Athletes in 1961 and the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1986. In 1977, Tom Gola was inducted into the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame. Gola was listed on "ESPN's Countdown to the Greatest" College basketball players as #17.
After a phenomenal college career, Gola turned pro with the
In 1959, Johnston temporarily retired due to a knee injury and the
Warriors added seven-foot superstar
Wilt Chamberlain . Again
sacrificing himself for his team, Gola helped the Warriors
consistently reach the
RETURN TO LA SALLE
In 1968, Gola returned to his alma mater as head coach, leading the
Explorers to a 37-13 record during his two-year stay. He was named
Coach of the Year by
SEASON TEAM OVERALL CONFERENCE STANDING POSTSEASON
LA SALLE EXPLORERS ( Middle Atlantic Conferences ) (1968–1970)
1968–69 La Salle 23-1 5-0 1st ‡
1969–70 La Salle 14-12 3-2 2nd
LA SALLE: 37–13 (.740) 8–2 (.800)
‡ Ineligible for any postseason tournaments
TOTAL: 37–13 (.740)
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
In 1968, Gola was elected to the Pennsylvania State House , as a
Republican , representing the Northeast
Gola was married to Caroline Norris in June 1955, and they had one son Thomas Christopher. Gola died on January 26, 2014, thirteen days after his 81st birthday, in Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania . A former US Army specialist, he was buried at the Washington