Hank Luisetti, Three-Time All-American Who Popularized One-handed Shot, Dies
Dec. 21, 2002
San Francisco, Calif. - Hank Luisetti, the three-time All-American forward fromStanford who revolutionized basketball by popularizing the runningone-handed shot, has died. He was 86.
Luisetti died Tuesday in San Mateo, his companion Nancy Gommeringer said.Luisetti had been ill with an unknown ailment for four months, she said.
The 6-foot-3 Luisetti changed the sport when he introduced his one-handedshot at New York's Madison Square Garden during a Dec. 30, 1936 game againstLong Island University.
Stanford's 45-31 victory ended Long Island's 43-game winning streak, andLuisetti, who finished with 15 points, brought the beginning of the end fora game that had been defined by the traditional two-handed set shot.
Luisetti was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959 and wasselected for the inaugural Pac-10 Hall of Honor in March 2001.
Luisetti honed his skills on the playgrounds of San Francisco, developingthe then-unusual style to hoist the ball over taller players.
'Shooting two-handed, I just couldn't reach the basket,' Luisetti once said.'I'd get the ball, take a dribble or two and jump and shoot on the way up. Ididn't jump and shoot at the height of my jump, the way they do now. I'd letthe ball go right near my face; I'd push and shoot, off my fingertips.'
Other West Coast players had worked on the one-handed shot, but Luisettihoned it best in competition.
Luisetti was an All-America selection at Stanford from 1936-1938 and wasselected the Helms Athletic Foundation Player of the Year in 1937 and 1938.
Luisetti also became the first college player to score 50 points in a game when Stanford beat Duquesne 92-27 on New Year's Day 1938. That record still stands at Stanford.
Luisetti's teammate, Phillip Zonne, remembered that game Saturday in aninterview with The Associated Press. He recalled vividly the strategy he andLuisetti employed - a forward-led full-court press.
'We did something differently. Luisetti and I would go down the court andmeet the two guards who were bringing the ball up the court,' Zonne said.'They were so confused at one point one of the guards handed (Luisetti) thebasketball.'
After his collegiate career, Luisetti played on amateur club teams includingthe Phillips 66ers and St. Mary's Pre-Flight. He also coached the StewartChevrolets to the Amateur Athletic Union championship in 1951.
Luisetti is survived by Gommeringer, his son Steven of Sacramento, hisdaughter Nancy of St. Louis, and several grandchildren andgreat-grandchildren.
By RON HARRIS
Associated Press Writer