Sports

Elnardo Webster, former Saint Peter’s star, dead at 74

As Saint Peter’s prepared for its biggest game in several decades, it mourned one of its greatest players.

Three days before the Peacocks looked to become the first 15th seed to reach the Elite Eight in NCAA Tournament history, Elnardo Webster passed away at the age of 74, friend and one-time teammate Gene O’Connell confirmed.

“He was involved up until the very end,” O’Connell said. “Very, very proud of this team, as we all were. Terrific basketball player for sure and a terrific human being.”

Webster was the star of the last great Saint Peter’s team, nicknamed “Run Baby Run,” because of its fast-paced style and 94 points per game average. Led by Webster, that team upset Duke in the NIT quarterfinals and won 24 games, equaling a program record. The 6-foot-5 Webster averaged 24.8 points and 14.1 rebounds over two seasons with the Peacocks after starting his college career in the junior college ranks.

Elnardo Webster grabs a rebound.
AP

A member of the MAAC and Saint Peter’s halls of fame, Webster played one season in the ABA and later went overseas to Italy before returning home to Jersey City, where he became an educator and trustee at his alma mater.

“It’s terrible,” Saint Peter’s coach Shaheen Holloway told The Post. “His passing hit home because he’s been unbelievable to me since I’ve been here. He paved the way for a lot of African Americans here at Saint Peter’s. This is a tremendous loss to the Saint Peter’s family and community.”

Holloway said the team is searching for an appropriate way to honor Webster, who was on hand in November when the 1968 team gathered for the renaming of Saint Peter’s renovated arena, formerly the Yanitelli Center, as Run Baby Run Arena. The 1968 team still plans to attend Friday night’s Sweet 16 game against No. 3 Purdue in Philadelphia.

“It’s going to be sad, yes, but we have great memories of this guy and we’re going to keep his memory alive,” O’Connell said.


Since word spread that Kevin Willard would leave Seton Hall for Maryland, rumors have swirled that Holloway would be his replacement. Holloway starred at Seton Hall as a player and was an assistant coach there for eight years before taking over at Saint Peter’s. Plus, Seton Hall athletic director Bryan Felt hired him at the MAAC school, and Willard has publicly campaigned for him to take over at the Big East school. But Holloway didn’t offer much insight on his future.

“I worry about the job I have right now, I worry about the team I have right now, I worry about what we’re doing right now. That’s the only thing that is important right now,” Holloway said. “Everything else is just hoopla. I’ve never been into that type of stuff. I don’t get into rumors. I focus on the mission of what’s in front of me.”

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