Dick Suprunowicz was the lock-down defender of his day.
A pupil of legendary basketball coach Sig Makofski at Mont Pleasant High School, Suprunowicz later was a three-year starter for Syracuse University, where he once held former Boston Celtics great Bob Cousy well below his average in a game with Holy Cross.
Suprunowicz; his brother, Walt; and Dave Przybylo will represent Schenectady as the latest members of the Upper New York State Basketball Hall of Fame. They will be inducted next summer.
Suprunowicz, one of three outstanding basketball-playing brothers, credits Makofski with making him a tough and stingy defender.
“We were all Makofski disciples,” he said. “If we put the three brothers together, the total number of games we lost under Sig in a seven-year period was maybe three,” he said. “When I played for Sig as a starter, I was 44-1, and Walt was about the same.
“My other brother Mack, came in as a freshman a few years later, and Sig lost a few starters because they were in the service. That’s why Mack had a few more losses than Walt and I did. We had three undefeated seasons at Mont Pleasant, and I consider myself very fortunate.”
Suprunowicz, now 87, won the last 40 games of his high school career. Although known as a top defender, he was also the team’s top scorer in each of his last two seasons.
It was at Syracuse where Suprunowicz really showed his defensive skills, especially in the Holy Cross matchup against Cousy.
“My main forte at Syracuse was that I was fast, strong and a hustler,” he said. “Under Sig, he taught everybody defense, so when I was at Syracuse, my first responsibility was to play the offensive star of the other team, including Cousy. I stopped him until I fouled out, and I got athlete of the week at Syracuse for the accomplishment.
“We were very strong defensively at Syracuse. I was a hustler and a hard player. I remember playing Ernie Vandeweghe [former Colgate and New York Knicks standout] and a guy named Jordan from Cornell. I held them down, too.
“I could also score, and I was in double figures a few times as the team’s third-leading scorer, but that wasn’t my job.”
Suprunowicz taught math for 14 years at Central Park Junior High School, Mont Pleasant and Linton, where he also became assistant principal for 16 years. He coached basketball at Mont Pleasant for six seasons, taking the Class A league title in 1958. He also coached bowling, tennis and golf. He became an excellent golfer when he retired.
“I didn’t coach for that long, but I remember our team stopped Walt Pzrybylo’s team that was trying to break Sig Makofski’s record for consecutive wins. I liked that one,” he said.
Walt Suprunowicz was also a Mont Pleasant graduate who lost only one game in his scholastic career under Mafofski.
He received a full scholarship to Holy Cross and was a four-year letterman who won the NIT in 1954 when the Crusaders finished 26-2 and were ranked third in the nation.
As a senior, Walt Suprunowicz had a season-high of 32 points and was named a Look Magazine District 1 All-American.
Walt Suprunowicz, now 82 and living in South Carolina, taught social studies at Mont Pleasant for 28 years and coached basketball and tennis at his alma mater.
All three Suprunowicz brothers are members of the Schenectady City School District Hall of Fame.
Przybylo scored 1,300 career points at Linton from 1972 to 1975, but was also known as an outstanding passer. He later played for Wichita State of the Missouri Valley Conference, and in 1976, his team not only won the league title, but also was ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
Przybylo later transferred to University at Albany to play for the legendary Dick Sauers.
Przbylo also coached basketball at both Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons and Amsterdam.
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