Coach and Athletic Director
St. Bonaventure and Little-Three basketball fans certainly remember Larry Weise as the coach of the Bonnies’1969-70 NCAA Final Four Team, a team that lost a realistic shot at the national championship when Bob Lanier went down with a knee injury in the semi-finals against Villanova. That season, and that moment however were merely the punctuation points on a long run of basketball excellence under Weise’s guidance as coach and athletic director.
After a high-school career that included three straight seasons of All-Monroe County honors, Weise embarked on a playing career at St. Bonaventure that laid the groundwork for his later coaching success. As a guard on Eddie Donovan’s squads, including the 1956-57 team that stretched the school’s home-court winning streak to 99 games, Larry developed a reputation as a quick-handed playmaker and tenacious, opportunistic defender.
Larry is credited with the patented St. Bonaventure press known as the “nervous defense,” and the frequency of his steals earned him the nickname “the Sheriff.” Beyond that, Weise evolved into a smart, knowledgeable player who often functioned almost as a second coach on the floor. In 1957, the Bonnies, sparked by leading scorer and All-Little Three selection Weise, reached the National Invitational Tournament. The following season, Larry co-captained the team to a 21-5 record.
When Weise was named varsity basketball coach at his alma mater in 1961, he became at age 24 the youngest Little-Three coach since Taps Gallagher in 1928. Larry had an auspicious start with a Blue Grass Tourney-winning squad in 1961, and his record over the next 12 seasons silenced critics who initially considered Weise too young for the post. Over that period, the Bonnies posted a record of 202-90, dominated the Little-Three with 22 straight wins at one point, and made four-post season NIT and NCAA tournament appearances, including the unforgettable 1970 run. Weise’s Bonnies also won the 1967 Tampa Tourney, the 1969 Holiday Festival, and the 1970 Gator Bowl Tourney. His coaching prowess was recognized with the Schofield Sportsmanship Award in 1968, and with the Eastern College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year Award in 1968 and 1970.
Larry Weise has worn many hats throughout his distinguished career. As St. Bonaventure Athletic Director from 1965 to 1992, Larry oversaw the growth of women’s sports under Title IX. A member of the ECAC Tournament Committee from 1975-78, Larry moved on to a stint on the Board of Directors of the Atlantic 10 Conference. As President of the Conference from 1985-88, Weise lobbied successfully for St. Bonaventure’s admittance to the prestigious conference.
In 2002, the lobbying for Larry’s admittance to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame ended properly — with his induction.