Buffalo State College Basketball Coach
While many local coaches have attained success at a single level (high school or college) for sustained periods, only a few have made the often-difficult transition between the two. Dick Bihr, known as a “teaching coach” during his stint at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, brought his methods and patience with him to Buffalo State College, and achieved the success at that school forecasted by his excellent high school coaching record.
A hard-nosed player at Buffalo State from 1965-69, and a teammate of future Buffalo Braves star Randy Smith, and future Buffalo State coach Tom Borschel, Bihr was installed as coach at St. Joe’s in 1971 following a season as Borschel’s assistant. Under his leadership, the Kenmore Avenue institution chalked up nine straight winning seasons on the hardwood, highlighted by a pair of Manhattan Cup championships (1973 and 1974). Dick sent several star players on to college, including Phil Scaffidi, captain of his second Manhattan Cup winners. Bihr’s Marauders posted over 150 wins during his stay, and were always a formidable opponent. They were certainly a force in Memorial Auditorium on that March 1978 evening when they ended Bishop Neumann’s 30-game winning streak, New York State’s longest active streak.
Upon his 1979 arrival back at Buffalo State, Bihr quickly molded the program into one of the most respected in Division III. Dick’s 25-year tenure at his alma mater featured ten seasons with 20 or more victories, and 11 State University of New York Athletic Conference Titles. Even while winning became routine, several seasons stand out amid the extended run of excellence. Bihr’s 1982-83 squad, operating within the strictures of a non-scholarship program, shocked Division I schools Canisius and Niagara en route to a 10-0 start and a No. 1 ranking atop the Division III poll. The Bengals hit the top of the poll again in 1988-89, a season which concluded with a 27-2 record and one of Bihr’s 12 post-season tournament bids, this one to the NCAA Tournament. For his accomplishments at Buffalo State, Dick was honored six times as SUNYAC Coach of the year.
Bihr’s Bengals had won a staggering total of over 450 games by the time he handed over his clipboard in 2004. Dick is still active at Buffalo State in a teaching capacity. It was his widely-recognized teaching attributes that made Bihr an outstanding coach, and paved the way for his selection to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.