Larry Hennessy (May 20, 1929 - August 20, 2008) was an American basketball player. Hennessy, a 6' 4" forward out of Blessed Sacrament High School in New Rochelle, New York, played college basketball for Villanova University. An excellent passer and rebounder, Hennessy finished his collegiate career with 1737 points. He was named to the 1951-52 sophomore All-America first team.
LAWRENCE E. (Larry) HENNESSY, Sr.
Position: Forward/Guard Height: 6’3” Weight: 190 Birthdate: May 29, 1930 Birthplace: New Rochelle, New York High School: Blessed Sacrament H.S. New Rochelle, New York College: Villanova 1953 When Drafted: April 1953 by the Philadelphia Warriors (NBA) Pro Experience: Two NBA seasons with Philadelphia and Syracuse Neptune Coach: 24 years, 35 titles Died: August 20, 2008 (78)
High School: Played basketball at Blessed Sacrament High School in New Rochelle, New York . . . made All-Westchester County his senior year for a squad that went 32-2 . . . distinguished himself on the basketball court as one of the city’s greatest scorers and earned the nickname “Hesh” for his formidable shooting accuracy . . . honored as an inductee into the Westchester County Sports Hall of Fame.
College: Jersey #14 hangs from the rafters of the Pavilion, Villanova’s home court, in honor of Hennessy who is a three time All-American selection and inductee into the Wildcats Hall of Fame . . . one of the most prolific scorers in Villanova basketball history . . . his 1,737 career points in three varsity seasons from 1950-53 ranked 11th in school history at the time of his passing . . . broke Paul Arizin’s career scoring mark . . . led Villanova University to a 25-5 mark his sophomore campaign with a 22.3 ppg average (703 total points) . . . elected MVP by his teammates as a sophomore . . . set a Sugar Bowl record his junior year with 66 points in two games . . . scored 567 points as a junior and was honored on the third team Associated Press All-American poll which ranked him as the 12th best player in the nation for a team that went 19-8. . . during the 1952-53 season Hennessy led the nation in scoring average going into the last game of the season . . . his 29.2 scoring average was edged by Frank Selvy’s 29.5 ppg mark for the national collegiate scoring title . . . on February 14, 1953 he scored 45 points against Boston College ten days after scoring 44 points against Canisius . . . in three years with the Wildcats he averaged 23.2 points in 75 career games on the Main Line playing for Coach Al Severance . . . . . . only two Wildcats, Paul Arizin and Bob Schafer, scored more points in a single game for Villanova at the time of his passing . . . roommate in college was Steve Gepp, current coach of Monsignor Donovan High School . . . earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Villanova.
Military: Served a two year stint in the Army from 1953 to 1955 starring at Fort Eustis (Virginia) which won the All-Army title in 1954 . . . played and coached the Wheels at Fort Eustice averaging 30.1 points his first season on a squad that went 25-9 . . . the second year (1954-55) he was a selection to the All-Army Team and first string All-Service team . . . at Ft. Eustis, Hennessy’s roommate was Willie Mays who led the Ft. Eustice baseball team to their own All-Army championships during the 1953 and 1954 seasons.
Professional - NBA and Eastern League: Joined the Philadelphia Warriors (later known as the Golden State Warriors) for the 1955-56 season having been drafted in April 1953 after a two year stint in the Army . . . coming into the NBA Hennessy was the leading scorer on every team on which he ever played . . . as a rookie with the Warriors in 1955-56 he averaged 3.7 points on .344% field goal and .813% free throw shooting in an average of 8.3 minutes in 53 games . . . also grabbed 49 rebounds and passed for 46 assists his rookie season . . . the Warriors won the NBA title beating the Ft. Wayne Pistons 4-1 in Hennessy’s rookie season . . . year two (1956-57) came and Hennessy was picked up by the Syracuse Nationals (later known as the Philadelphia 76ers) . . . he averaged 6.4 points on .320% field goal and .719% free throw shooting in an average of 17.8 minutes per game . . . also grabbed 45 rebounds and passed for 27 assists.
Following his NBA career Hennessey played in the Eastern League, the forerunner of today’s Continental Basketball Association . . . played from 1957 to 1961 for the Wilkes Barre Barons . . . led the league in scoring (32.3 ppg) and was league MVP in 1958.
Playing Style: A great two-handed set shooter who experimented in 1955 with a one-hander . . . during his collegiate days at Villanova his reputation as the foremost set shooter in the country preceded him.
Coaching Career: Took over the reigns as head coach of Neptune (N.J.) High School in 1957 exactly 20 years after the first Shore Conference basketball titles were first awarded in 1937 . . . Hennessy continued to build an already successful program into a powerhouse . . . using a fast-break full-court style, Hennessy led Neptune to 16 Shore Conference Class A Division Championships in 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976 according to the conference website . . . in addition the Scarlet Fliers were the overall Shore Conference Tournament Champions in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1972 and 1976 according to Shore Conference and Neptune High School records. . . Neptune captured six New Jersey sectional crowns including Group IV Central Jersey titles in 1972 and 1976 . . . Hennessy became the first coach in Shore Conference history to record 300 victories when on February 15, 1972 his Scarlet Fliers defeated Ocean by a score of 96-63 with a squad that was 20-1 at the time and the winningest team in the state . . . Ken O’Donnell who played point guard for Hennessy from 1967 to 1969 at Neptune High School and is the current head boy’s basketball coach at Neptune calls his former coach the “Dean” of Neptune basketball. “He doesn’t always get the credit in the present day for what he has done, but he started the tradition of Neptune basketball and made it what it is today,” said O’Donnell upon Hennessy’s passing . . . Walt Mischler, Neptune’s Athletic Director in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s notes that in Neptune’s 1960’s heyday the Scarlet Fliers won 58 consecutive home games drawing sellouts even though games were played at 3:30 in the afternoon . . . in an article that appeared in the Asbury Park Press in 1972 it was noted that Neptune posted the unofficial record of going nine years (1960-69) in their new gymnasium on Springdale Avenue (now Neptune Boulevard) before sustaining its first home loss . . . the same article noted that in Hennessy’s first 15 years as coach of the Scarlet Fliers, a period that spanned from the 1957-58 season to 1971-72, Neptune posted 20 or more victories in 10 of the 15 years and only once suffered more than 10 defeats in one season (12 in 1970) . . . in addition, in eight of the 15 years Neptune won three or more titles . . . all totaled, Hennessy coached Scarlet Fliers squads collected at least 35 titles including 16 Shore Conference Class “A” trophies, nine Shore Conference Tournament titles, at least seven Holiday Basketball Jubilee titles, one Central Jersey Group IV title, one Central Jersey Group III title, and one South Jersey Group IV title . . . in 1962 Neptune won its first 25 games before its only loss of the season which occurred in the final of the State Group III Tournament.
After Neptune, Hennessy went on to coach one season at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ . . . he later added four more Shore Conference divisional titles at Mater Dei High School in Middletown, NJ where he posted an 87-18 record . . . Hennessy returned to Neptune for the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons before completing his coaching career at Walsingham Academy (Williamsburg, VA) with more than 600 lifetime victories to his credit.
Coaching Style: Considered a disciple of legendary Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coaches Adolph Rupp (University of Kentucky) and Arnold “Red” Auerbach (Boston Celtics) . . . refined an aggressive style of “blitz basketball” which incorporated full court pressure, man-to-man defense, a variety of traps, denial defense and a fast break swing and go offense.
Executive: Served as secretary-treasurer and later commissioner of the Jersey Shore Basketball League in the late 1960s, through the 1970s and into the 1980s . . . the league has featured players from the NBA, ABA, NCAA, NAIA, junior colleges and high school all-stars since the late 1960s with a base of operations in Belmar, New Jersey.
Honors: Inducted into the Jersey Shore Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 in the same class with former Neptune High School standout and former Philadelphia 76er and Cincinnati Royal Jake Jones . . . joined former Scarlet Flier Bob Davis and ex-St. Rose of Belmar and ABA All-Star Bob Verga in the Hall.
Personal: Hennessy was preceded in death by his daughter Virginia Mary (Ginny) Hennessy and his wife Catherine Cecelia Hanrahan Hennessy (1/27/08) . . . he is survived by his three sons, Lawrence Jr. with his wife Jana, Robert P., Michael W., and grandson Kai Lani Hennessy . . . Lawrence Sr. and Catherine (Katy) met while she was completing her studies at the College of William & Mary in Virginia and he was stationed at Ft. Eustice . . . Hennessy appeared as an extra in the 1954 film “Go, Man, Go!” which was a story about the Harlem Globetrotters . . . Hennessy played on the college all-star team that opposed the Globetrotters on their nationwide tour in 1953 when the movie was filmed . . . the film also featured Sidney Poitier as showboating Trotter center Inman Jackson, leading man Dane Clark as Abe Saperstein (owner of the Globetrotters) and Ruby Dee along with the Harlem Globetrotters themselves including “Sweetwater” Clifton, “Goose” Tatum, and Marques Haynes. . .. . . Julius “Dr. J” Erving is known to have asked Hennessey for his autograph . . . attended St. Gabriel’s elementary school in New Rochelle, NY.