Elnardo Webster, who led Saint Peter’s to the NIT semi-finals in 1968, dies

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FILE - Summer Youth Development Program Director Elnardo Webster gives a pep talk to children before a lacrosse clinic of the <a class=school district‘s new Summer Youth Development Program activities at West Side Park on 1 August 2000, in Newark, NJ Webster, who put Saint Peter basketball on the map more than half a century ago by leading the Peacocks to the NIT semifinals in 1968, died on Tuesday March 22, 2022 in Morristown, NJ after being hospitalized with a heart condition, former teammates said. He was 74 years old. (William Perlman/NJ Advance Media via AP, File)” title=”FILE – Summer Youth Development Program Director Elnardo Webster gives a pep talk to children before a lacrosse clinic of the school district’s new Summer Youth Development Program activities at West Side Park on 1 August 2000, in Newark, NJ Webster, who put Saint Peter basketball on the map more than half a century ago by leading the Peacocks to the NIT semifinals in 1968, died on Tuesday March 22, 2022 in Morristown, NJ after being hospitalized with a heart condition, former teammates said. He was 74 years old. (William Perlman/NJ Advance Media via AP, File)” loading=”lazy”/>

FILE – Summer Youth Development Program Director Elnardo Webster gives a pep talk to children before a lacrosse clinic of the school district’s new Summer Youth Development Program activities at West Side Park on 1 August 2000, in Newark, NJ Webster, who put Saint Peter basketball on the map more than half a century ago by leading the Peacocks to the NIT semifinals in 1968, died on Tuesday March 22, 2022 in Morristown, NJ after being hospitalized with a heart condition, former teammates said. He was 74 years old. (William Perlman/NJ Advance Media via AP, File)

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Elnardo Webster, who put Saint Peter basketball on the map more than half a century ago by leading the Peacocks to the NIT semi-finals in 1968, has died. He was 74 years old.

Webster died Tuesday in Morristown, New Jersey, after being hospitalized with a heart condition, former teammates said.

Pat Finnegan, a member of the 1968 team, said he was in the hospital lobby to visit Webster when he received a text message from Webster’s wife, Sandra, informing him that her husband had died.

“He was a wonderful, kind, spiritual man,” Finnegan said in a phone interview with The Associated Press Tuesday night. “He liked to joke around and be the weight of his own jokes too.”

“We lost a good one,” teammate Bob Leckie said in a phone call from the Florida Keys, where he was vacationing. “Good in Saint-Pierre and good for Saint-Pierre.”

Webster led Saint Peter’s to a 100-71 win over Duke in the NIT second round, finishing with 29 points and 14 rebounds. The team lost to Kansas in the semifinals 58-46, then lost to Notre Dame 81-78 in the consolation game. Webster scored in double figures in all 28 games that year.

For years, this team was considered the greatest of all time in Saint-Pierre. They recently became a footnote with the current Peacocks team reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament with wins over Kentucky and Murray State last week.

The No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s (21-11) will face the No. 3 seed Purdue (29-7) on Friday in Philadelphia with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line against the winner of the game between North Carolina and the UCLA.

Webster averaged 24.1 points and 14.6 rebounds in 1968-69 for a team that went 21-7. Transferring from a junior college, he scored 1,374 points in two seasons and ranks 11th in scoring in school history.

Drafted by the Knicks in the fourth round of the 1969 NBA Draft, he didn’t make the roster and went to the Eastern League, ABA and overseas during a career seven-year professional.

A native of Jersey City, New Jersey, Webster graduated and earned a master’s degree from Saint Peter’s. He received a doctorate in educational leadership from Seton Hall in 2000

The 1968 team was nicknamed the “Run Baby Run” basketball team. The university gymnasium was renovated and opened this season. It’s called The Run Baby Run Arena.

After his playing days ended, Webster worked in education. He retired from the position of Superintendent of Roselle Public Schools and became a consultant to the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education as a highly qualified professional. Most recently, he served as Director of Saint Peter’s Center for After School and Expanded Learning.

Besides his wife, Webster is survived by two sons, Elnardo Jr. and Damarko.

The university said arrangements have not been finalized.

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