To this hoops fan, Explorers are family
To this hoops fan, Explorers are family BY DEAN LEE EVANS, Corrrespondent
It's not too often root canals and basketball have a commonality, but they do for Lancaster dentist Kenneth "Dusty" Loeffler II.
"My dad and I shared the same name and he didn't want me to be called 'Junior,' hence the nickname," Loeffler said from his Oregon Pike office Wednesday.
Loeffler is the son of Kenneth Loeffler, the 1964 Hall of Fame basketball coach who led the La Salle University men's basketball team to the 1954 NCAA Championship nearly 60 years ago.
Dusty Loeffler has been busy talking about his legendary father lately.
Tonight the Explorers are in a position to take down Wichita State in their Sweet 16 matchup in the NCAA men's basketball tournament (10:17 p.m., TBS).
Coach Loeffler passed away in 1975, but his memory lives on.
"Geneva College just put up a bust of my father recently," Loeffler said.
A native of Beaver Falls, Loeffler earned a Bachelor's degree at Penn State in 1924 and had a brief career in pro basketball from 1924-29.
His collegiate coaching career began at Geneva College in 1928 before he became head basketball coach at Yale University in 1934
While at Yale, where Loeffler was also an assistant coach to the football and baseball varsity programs, he had a 61-82 record over seven years.
Loeffler served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II and returned to coaching in pro teams in the Basketball Association of America.
He coached the St. Louis Bombers and the Providence Steamrollers before returning to collegiate sports in 1949 as head coach at La Salle. One of Loeffler's star players was future Hall of Famer Tom Gola.
Loeffler said his father ran his family like a basketball coach.
"He was the consummate basketball coach, a piano player and a writer," said Loeffler.
"My father had a size 13a-x shoe that I occasionally saw the bottom of," he said with a mischievous grin.
Dusty never played basketball. "I never quite got tall enough," he said. But he did attend his father's alma mater before studying dentistry at Temple.
Loeffler settled in Lancaster in the early 1970s following a two-year stint in the U.S. Navy's dental corps.
He said his Temple roommate was the son of a Lancaster City councilman, which is what brought him to Lancaster County.
Loeffler lost both his parents in the same year, in 1974.
"Gerry sent me a handwritten letter of condolence when my father passed away," Loeffler said, referring to former president Gerald Ford, whom he knew personally. Ford and the elder Loeffler were roommates at Yale during their law school years.
Loeffler said his dad was a very private coach.
"I have more pictures of Tom Gola and the La Salle team than I do of my father," he said.
"My father believed the players, not the coach, deserved the spotlight on the court."
Loeffler said he was invited onto the La Salle court in 2005 -- the 50th anniversary of his father's historic win --along with the other surviving players.
Loeffler spoke of how those players held his father in high regard for guiding them in school.
He said his father also guided him as well.
"When I was in high school, he made me take a typing class, which wasn't very common for men," Loeffler said. "He said that if you can type, you will never starve."
Coach Loeffler was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame on October 1, 1964.
nLocal dentist is the son of late La Salle coach Kenneth Loeffler, who led his team to NCAA men's title in 1954.