The Blue and White took their lumps during the 1955-56 basketball season, but winds of change were stirring the air of Carson Gymnasium. Allan Malachuk was only a sophomore that year, but his impact was immediately felt when in his first varsity contest he led the Brook with 18 points in a 51-45 win over Hackensack. The team finished a sub-par 7-10, 5-9 in the Ivy League, but, with Malachuk’s deft play at the guard position, the near future looked promising.
As the 1956-57 season commenced, the first obstacle for a team that had its sights set on an Ivy League Championship was to replace captain Dennis Fiedler’s 16.1 points per game. That void was ably filled by captains Frank Visted (15.9 ppg) and Bruce Strong (8.7 ppg) and alongside Malachuk’s 17.6 points per game, the Brooker offense stacked up with the best in the league. The season began at West Babylon where the Blue and White rolled behind Malachuk’s 22 points. In the next game, La Salle visited Carson and Stony Brook suffered defeat, 62-61, despite 36 combined points from Malachuk and Visted. The setback did not deflate the boys as they reeled off 11 straight victories to gain a firm foothold atop the Ivy League by dispatching Lindenhurst (71-58), East Meadow (61-50), Horace Mann (50-30), Poly Prep (58-51), Hackley (58-51), Adelphi (62-53), St. Paul’s (58-55), Trinity (69-61), Riverdale (69-68), Horace Mann (76-65), and Poly Prep (66-51).
The winning streak finally ended at Hackley where the Brookers could not overcome poor outings by Malachuk and Bennett, falling 56-47 in their only league loss. The Blue and White regained their form against Adelphi and won 63-52 behind 24 points from Visted. The next day’s Long Island Press headline read, “Stony Brook Victory Strengthens Lead” as the Brook moved within one win of the title. On March 2nd, the boys hosted St. Paul’s and left no doubt who the best team in the Ivy League was, building a 41-20 halftime lead en route to a 75-42 triumph. Malachuk and Visted were in fine form with 20 and 19 points, respectively, while Strong chipped in 10. As the final horn sounded the boys hoisted coach Jim Fenton onto their shoulders, celebrating the first hardwood championship in eight years.
Brooks down St. Paul’s to Win Ivy Cage Crown
~ Newsday headline from March 4th, 1957
The final two contests of the year had no bearing on the standings, but the Brookers finished strong regardless, downing Trinity 44-43, after trailing 36-27 at intermission, and then running roughshod over Riverdale, 69-30, in the season finale. The Blue and White finished 16-2, 13-1 in the league, outscoring their opponents 1,111-912 in the process. Malachuk’s 316 points, the only Ivy Leaguer to break the 300 point mark, earned him the distinction of Ivy League Player of the Year while Mr. Fenton garnered Coach of the Year honors. It was a banner year for Stony Brook and one of the best seasons in years, but there was more to come.
1956-57 Game-by-Game Results
|Dec. 7||West Babylon||59-47||22||13||6|
|Dec. 11||La Salle||61-62||17||19||12|
|Dec. 18||East Meadow||61-50||18||10||9|
|Jan. 11||Horace Mann*||53-38||16||14||12|
|Jan. 16||Poly Prep*||50-30||23||15||6|
|Jan. 26||St. Paul’s*||58-55||8||12||11|
|Feb. 15||Horace Mann*||76-65||24||22||6|
|Feb. 19||Poly Prep*||66-51||18||18||15|
|Mar. 2||St. Paul’s*||74-42||20||19||–|
As the rust orange leaves began to fall, thoughts again turned from football to basketball and the defense of the Ivy League Championship. The 1957-58 squad knew that in order to accomplish that they would have to replace the 24.6 points per game vacated by captains Visted and Strong. Malachuk, the Ivy League Player of the Year, was back for his senior season and along with his co-captain Dick Skripak and Robert Bennett, the Big Blue seemed ready to take up the mantle of the ’57 team. The season began with a non-league tilt at La Salle Military Academy where the Brookers followed Malachuk’s 23 points to a 67-48 victory. The following matchup pitted the Brookers against King’s Point Merchant Marine Academy’s JV squad. The plebes led 28-24 at halftime, but Bennett’s 10-point third quarter helped the boys recover. Still trailing by 1 heading into the final frame, the Blue and White outscored the Mariners, 11-10, to force overtime where Malachuk single-handedly outscored the Kings Pointers 7-3 as the Brook prevailed, 59-51.
With two solid victories behind them, the boys began Ivy League play, touching off four straight victories against Friends Academy (79-66), Trinity (75-49), Riverdale (79-51), and Horace Mann (62-55). In the Friends game, Malachuk was sensational breaking the school record at the time with a 40-point display. Standing at 6-0 and undefeated in the league, the boys traveled to Poly Prep in the hopes of solidifying their position atop the standings; however, an 83-57 drubbing brought them down to earth. They did not stay stunned for long as they reeled off victories in their next five games against Hackley (85-71), Adelphi (75-61), St. Paul’s (63-60), Trinity (61-56), and Riverdale (73-40). At 9-1 the Blue and White controlled their own fate in the battle for the league title, but no one could foresee the what would come next.
At Horace Mann, leading with one second remaining, the Big Blue lost on a buzzer-beater in overtime, falling 57-56. The next game promised to be the game of the year as rival Poly Prep came to campus. Res Gestae 1958 described the spectacle in Carson Gymnasium:
This promised to be the game of games. Stony Brook, with their backs up against the wall, had to win in order to remain in competition for the flag. It can truly be said that this was the greatest game of the season. Three hundred hysterical fans packed out Carson Memorial Gymnasium to watch the Blue and White go down to glorious defeat at the hands of Poly. Certainly we outplayed them, but the height was too much, and Poly triumphed, 67-62.
Malachuk did all he could with 30 points, but the loss to Poly all but put the Brook out of the running for a second Ivy Championship. The consecutive losses seemed to cast a pall on the team that only week earlier had seemed nearly invincible. At home against Hackley in the next contest, Malachuk dropped in 28 points, but Skripak and Bennett finished below their season averages as the hosts dropped the game, 70-60. They finally recovered their footing, trumping Adelphi in their gym 87-58, but lost the final game of the year on yet another last second shot that gave St. Paul’s a 64-62 reprisal. In his final contest Malachuk scored 23 to finish with an amazing 420 points on the season (24.7 ppg). Despite their lack of height, the Blue and White ran to a record of 12-5 overall and 9-5 in the league, giving them a 28-7 overall record and a 23-6 league mark over the previous two seasons.
Over that span, led by Malachuk’s 736 points, the Brookers outscored their opponents 2,273-1,929. Outstanding senior seasons by Malachuk and Skripak (12.4 ppg) earned them places on the All-Ivy League team, while Malachuk was honored again as the Ivy League Player of the Year. Furthermore, Malachuk closed his hardwood career by winning the Davenport Award for the third year in a row on the vote of his teammates. It was a trophy given to the basketball player who best exemplified sportsmanship, leadership, ability, and what a Stony Brook athlete should be, something Malachuk lived up to every time he stepped on the field, court, or diamond. Res Gestae 1958 had this to say about Malachuk winning the Davenport Award: “Officials and opposing players have expressed highest regard for his sportsmanship and competitive skills.” It was an exciting two-year stretch in Carson Gymnasium as basketball pride returned to the Brook with Malachuk at the center of it all.
Al and athletics go hand in hand. It is impossible to separate the two. In the last two years, the Brook has enjoyed some great seasons, and certainly much of the credit goes to this boy. It is the continuous cry of his masters, “If only he would work as hard in the classroom.” His coaches will remember a “star” who sacrificed personal glory for team good in athletics and his classmates will remember his amiable class leadership.Malachuk’s senior paragraph in Res Gestae 1958
1957-58 Game-by-Game Results
|Dec. 10||La Salle||67-48||23||12||14|
|Dec. 13||King’s Point JV||59-51 (OT)||18||12||22|
|Dec. 17||Friends Academy||79-66||40||11||18|
|Jan. 17||Horace Mann*||62-55||31||10||9|
|Jan. 22||Poly Prep*||57-83||16||11||9|
|Feb. 12||St. Paul’s*||63-60||27||10||9|
|Feb. 21||Horace Mann*||56-57 (OT)||19||20||4|
|Feb. 26||Poly Prep*||62-67||30||14||6|
|Mar. 8||St. Paul’s*||62-64||23||17||–|