After an absence of some 53 years, Madison Square Garden will host the Division I 2014 NCAA Finals. Floyd Layne and Ron Nadell have certainly wondered why it took so long. The Garden’s history was and still is their history.
They were members of that great City College of New York Beavers team that won not only the NCAA Tournament, but the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) as well in that historic year of 1950. The same year, the late Ed Warner was named the first African-American player to win NIT Most Valuable Player honors.
And so, Layne and Nadell once again returned to Madison Square Garden to share the spotlight with Oscar “The Big O” Robertson, former University of Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun and relative youngsters Dwayne “The Pearl” Washington and Felipe López. Art Hyland, who balled in the ʼ’60s with Princeton, and Madison Square Garden man of the ages Cal Ramsey, New York University’s all-time leading rebounder, were also on the set.
It should be noted that Hyland was on the Princeton Tigers team that, in 1961, balled in the last NCAA tournament hosted by the Garden. “Those are some great memories,” said Layne.
“‘The Genie’ would have loved this,” said Layne, who’s also known as “The Snake.”
Standing 6-foot-4-inches and beaming, Layne, who serves as the head basketball coach at George Washington High School, is a marvelous wonder and inspiration to everyone he has mentored throughout his life.