Oct. 25, 2013
HARTFORD, Conn. - Wesley John (Wes) Bialosuknia, 68, the all-time career average scoring leader in University of Connecticut men's basketball history, passed away Wednesday (Oct. 23, 2013) at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, surrounded by family and a cherished friend.
Bialosuknia, a resident of Bristol, Conn., was born June 8, 1945 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.. He was the son of Wes Sr. and Catherine (Tulacz) Bialosuknia. His early years were spent on many ball fields and in gyms throughout Poughkeepsie, including the Fairview Avenue playground. A three-sport athlete, Wes graduated from Roosevelt High School, Hyde Park, N.Y. in 1963.
Known as the "Poughkeepsie Popper" or "Wonderful Wes", nicknames given to him by long time UConn WTIC radio broadcaster George Ehrlich, Bialosuknia attended UConn on a basketball scholarship and set numerous records during his collegiate playing days.
Bialosuknia is survived by his beloved wife of 39 years, Maureen (Tackett) Bialosuknia; daughter Jane, son-in-law Arturo Portillo, their children, Tomas and Sophia; son John and daughter-in-law Angela (Kress) Bialosuknia; sister Jane and brother-in-law Tracy Scott; mother-in-law Mary Tackett; several brothers and sisters-in-law: Ann and Clyde Fitch, James Tackett, Tom and Diane Tackett, Barbara Meyers, Fran and George Showman, Jerry and Josie Tackett and many nieces and nephews.
A lover of all things outdoors, Bialosuknia enjoyed camping, canoeing, hiking, and gardening. Inspired by "Highpoints of the States" by Frank Ashley, he and Maureen conquered the highest peaks of over 40 states and canoed many challenging rivers throughout New England.
A role model for neighborhood children, Bialosuknia often organized basketball, wiffleball or various other activities. He coached at Forestville Little League for several years and also initiated and coached the first eighth grade girls travel team at the Bristol Boys and Girls Club. The season was completed with a 19-1 record and a New England Championship.
A member of the UConn Basketball All-Century Team that was selected in 2001, Bialosuknia was also a member of the inaugural class of inductees (2007) in the UConn Basketball Huskies of Honor recognition program. The "Huskies of Honor" program pays visible tribute in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion to the top players and coaches in UConn Basketball history.
Bialosuknia, a 6-2 guard at UConn, carried a school all-time best 23.6 points per game career scoring average over his three varsity seasons (1964-65 thru 1966-67). He is the only player in UConn basketball history to average better than 20 points per game in each varsity season and his 28.0 ppg. scoring average as a senior in 1966-67 ranked him No. 5 in the nation in scoring and remains a long-standing single season school record.
Bialosuknia is considered the greatest long-range shooter in UConn history but played his college basketball before the three-point field goal. He scored 1,673 in just three years of varsity competition and led UConn in scoring in all three seasons. In all three of his varsity years Bialosuknia was an NABC All-District pick. He was also a three-time All-New England choice by both AP and UPI as well as a three-time All-Yankee Conference honoree.
As a senior, Bialosuknia was an ECAC All-Star and a Helms All-American. He also was UConn's initial First Team Academic All-American in 1967.
At the conclusion of his senior season, Bialosuknia was the MVP of the annual North-South College All-Star game.
In Bialosuknia's three varsity years, UConn compiled an overall record of 56-18, won three consecutive Yankee Conference titles and earned a pair of NCAA Tournament bids.
Bialosuknia was a fourth round draft pick of the St. Louis Hawks in the 1967 NBA Draft but elected to play professionally for the Oakland Oaks in the ABA after also being chosen in the ABA draft. He ranked second in the ABA (1967-68) in three-point field goal shooting percentage and his nine consecutive three-point field goals made remains tied for the most in ABA history.
Following his collegiate and professional playing days, Bialosuknia was a member of the United States Army Reverses from 1967-73.
In recent years, Bialosuknia and his wife Maureen were regular visitors at UConn games, sitting directly behind the Husky bench.
Calling hours for Bialosuknia will be held on Sunday, October 27, from 4-8 p.m. at Fisette-Batzner Funeral Home, 20 Bonair Avenue, Newington, Conn. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, October 28, at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 79 New Park Avenue, Hartford, Conn. Interment will be private.
Memorial donations may be made to the Coach Dee Rowe Men's Basketball Endowed Scholarship at the University of Connecticut c/o The UConn Foundation, 2390 Alumni Drive, Unit 3206, Storrs, Conn. 06269.