I love everything about this photograph, which was taken at Memorial Auditorium in 1942. NC State won the Southern Conference tournament that year, and Bones McKinney, seen here drinking from the water bucket of triumph, had been named to the All-Tournament team.
I've seen the bucket and ladle situation in other photos from that era and I've never understood the deal with that. It was a difficult time for the country, so perhaps the nation's cups were needed overseas.
McKinney has a fascinating history within the Big Four; he left NC State to fight in the war and returned in 1946 to play for the Tar Heels. That Carolina team was the national runner up. He became Wake Forest's head coach in 1958 and led one most successful runs in that school's history. Under McKinney Wake made five consecutive ACC tournament title game appearances, winning twice, and made their first and only Final Four appearance.
[McKinney wasn't the only former player Everett Case would watch jump-start an area basketball program. Vic Bubas played for Case in the late 40s and coached alongside him through much of the 50s before moving on to the head coaching job at Duke. There Bubas won four regular season and conference tournament titles and led the Blue Devils to their first three Final Fours. I do not believe we have received a thank you note from either institution.]
But before his coaching success McKinney was a wiry Kyle Singler look-a-like laying the foundation for Everett Case's empire. Not a lot of status-quo-accepting here, which was the style at the time. That and basketball uniforms with short sleeves, apparently.
I was surprised to see that those early State College uniforms had "N.C. State" on the front--here's a better angle. Turns out we've been paying homage to a bygone era without realizing it.
(Thanks again to the Hugh Morton Collection.)