Charles "Buddy" Donnelly, 81, the captain and point guard for La Salle's 1952 NIT champions, died Sunday.

Then-freshman Tom Gola was the star and leading scorer for that championship squad, but, in the team picture, Mr. Donnelly is in the middle of the front row, with a basketball in front of him.

"He was a very good player and a real nice guy," said Speedy Morris, the winningest coach in La Salle history.

After graduation, Mr. Donnelly was the player-coach of the Army's Fort Belvoir (Va.) basketball team that included Duke all-American Dick Groat, who went on to baseball fame with the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. The team won the 1953 All-Army Tournament.

Mr. Donnelly also coached Father Judge High, going 100-30 in nine seasons. In addition he coached the Camden Bullets of the Eastern League and St. Joseph High in Hammonton, N.J.

Mr. Donnelly was also an insurance salesman.

"Buddy meant a lot to the La Salle community as a member of the 1952 NIT champions," director of athletics Tom Brennan said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

La Salle finished 25-7 in 1951-52 and beat Dayton, 75-64, in the NIT championship game.

Morris said Mr. Donnelly used to come around for functions when he coached La Salle.

"He was a member of the Blue Chip Club for a couple of years, always positive," Morris said.

Mr. Donnelly, who was inducted into the La Salle Hall of Athletes in 1992, is survived by his wife, Mary, and three children - Michael, Robert, and Stacy. A viewing will be held Thursday beginning at 7 p.m. and on Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Joseph A. Quinn Funeral Home, 5358 Roosevelt Blvd. The funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Martin of Tours Church, 5450 Roosevelt Blvd.