K-State’s 1964 Final Four team returns to a roar

01/18/2014 5:12 PM

01/18/2014 11:30 PM

In 1964, Kansas State won a Big Eight championship and advanced to the Final Four.

Just in case Joe Gottfrid, a member of that team, forgot how meaningful those accomplishments were, he was provided with a emphatic reminder on Saturday. The Wildcats honored the 1964 team at halftime of a 78-56 victory over West Virginia, and the former players were cheered as loudly as the current team.

“It’s special,” Gottfrid said. “We played a long time ago and after 50 years of anything it is special to come and be honored for it. There was quite a bit of hoopla over it today — a lot more than we got back when we were playing.”

Roger Suttner, a 7-footer who averaged 12.9 points that season, was equally impressed.

“It was a great reunion,” Suttner said. “The noise on the court was unbelievable.”

In all, K-State welcomed back 14 members of the 1964 team. Dick Barnard, Larry Berger, Bill Gettler, Tom Haas, Jim Hoffmann, Max Moss, John Olson, Lou Poma, Sammy Robinson, Jeff Simons, Larry Weigel and former coach Tex Winter were all in attendance, along with Gottfrid and Suttner. Leading scorer Willie Murrell couldn’t attend for health reasons.

When asked for their best memories from the 1964 season, they all had the same answers: surviving four overtime games, winning a conference title and beating Wichita in the NCAA Tournament. Facing UCLA in the Final Four was fun, too.

The former players and coaches met on campus earlier in the weekend for a full weekend. K-State coach Bruce Weber made sure they met with the Wildcats’ current players.

“It was an honor to have those guys here,” Weber said. “A lot of them came to practice. They were so fired up. One of them lives in San Diego, somebody lives in New Jersey, but they all watch the game. They know our players and they know what we are doing. ... It’s special, the great tradition here. It gives us something to shoot for.”

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