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Men's Basketball

Basketball was first played as an intercollegiate sport at Centre College during 1905-06. Credit for organizing the team is given to N.H. Dosker, who came to Centre in the fall of 1905, having played on the Male High School and Y.M.C.A. teams in Louisville. The biggest problem facing the early teams was a place to play. Old Boyle-Humphrey Gymnasium had been completed in 1890, but didn't have a full-size court since basketball wasnít being played at that time. The 1908-09 season was moved to a more spacious local skating rink, were Centre won the Intercollegiate Championship of Kentucky. The 1910 squad had a record of 20 wins and 3 loses, including two victories over Vanderbilt, and won its third consecutive Kentucky championship and the Southern Intercollegiate Championship.

In 1914 Boyle-Humphrey Gymnasium was completed, but in November of that year a fire completely gutted the building. Alumni and students rushed to raise money to rebuild the gymnasium, and by the opening of school in 1915 the new gymnasium was ready for use. The gymnasium floor was 55 by 80 feet, providing what was then considered ample space for basketball. Photographs show a poorly lit, cramped basketball court, with room for a limited number of spectators, who were seated right to the out-of-bounds lines. On March 3-4, 1916, the first Kentucky state basketball tournament was held in in the gym. The eight best teams in the state participated in the tournament, won by Henderson High School. On January 28, 1910, Centre defeated the University of Kentucky 87-17, the largest margin of defeat in UK's basketball history.

The basketball teams of the late teens and early 1920s enjoyed considerable success. Several players who starred on the national ranked football teams of the Praying Colonels era also played basketball, including Bo McMillin, Norris Armstrong, and Red Roberts. The 1919 team was undefeated, with victories over Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Louisville, and claimed the title of "Southern Champions." The team included future U.S. Senator John Sherman Cooper and Western Kentucky University legendary basketball coach Ed Diddle. Centre defeated the University of Louisville 65-18 in 1919, which still ranks as Louisville's largest margin of defeat in a basketball game.

Following the success of the early 1920s, Centreís basketball program fell on hard times. Between 1930 and 1963, the team recorded only one winning season, that in 1931. One problem was an inconsistency in coaches: during a five year period in the 1930s, Centre had four head basketball coaches. Another was that when the team did have a head coach for more than a year or two, he was often also the head football coach. When this was the case, basketball practice didnít begin until the football season was over, putting the team at a distinct disadvantage against its opponents.

The 1942-43 season was an abbreviated one due to the lack of traveling facilities and gasoline rationing. Centre didnít field any athletic teams during 1944 and 1945. In 1950 a gymnasium/auditorium addition, named Alumni Memorial Building, was added to the back of the Boyle-Humphrey Gymnasium, substantially enlarging the seating capacity for basketball games.

In 1964 Lew Phillips became the head coach. In his first year the team posted a 14-8 record and was invited to the NCAA tournament. Centre lost to North Carolina A & T and Kentucky Wesleyan. Unfortunately this was Phillips' only winning season. Prior to the 1969 season Tom Bryant was selected as the head coach.

Bryant was Centre's men's basketball coach from 1968 to 1996, and the school's athletic director for 21 years. A 1955 graduate of Miami of Ohio, Bryant was a starter on three Miami teams that won conference championships, team MVP, and was named to the Mid-America All-Conference team. At Centre, Bryant won 389 games and 15 conference champions. He led Centre to the NCAA Division III Final Four twice, in 1979 and 1989, and to nine appearances in the Division III tournament. He was named Kodak Coach of the Year for the south district eight times in his career.

In his 13th year, Greg Mason is the current head coach. Mason, a 1994 Centre graduate and four-year starter on the basketball team, has a career record of 270-106, which ranks as one of the 15 best winning percentages in Division III history. Continuing the legacy of Tom Bryant, Mason's teams have made 6 NCAA Division III tournaments, won 5 conference tournament titles, had 6 seasons of 20+ victories, in 2008 had the best record in school history (26-3), and has had 5 All-American selections.

In 1962 Boyle-Humphrey Alumni Gymnasium was renovated and expanded, with the building taking on a new name as Sutcliffe Hall. The building would later be renovated and expanded in 1981. Most of the original 1915 structure of Boyle-Humphrey Alumni Gymnasium was demolished as part of the 2004-2005 renovation and expansion of Sutcliffe Hall.