|Title:||Class of 2009|
While thumbing through a binder filled with manager's reports, a simple sentence in the 1962-63 men's basketball report proved to be prophetic: "Only a freshman, Penoncello has already won the hearts of WPI followers and it looks like he will be supplying exciting basketball for Tech in the future."
During his freshman campaign, Penoncello led the Engineers in halves played, a real rarity in an era that saw JV and freshman squads. He averaged 10.1 points and was the second leading scorer on the team. He continued to excel as a sophomore, averaging 11.9 points and a career-best 3.7 rebounds during the 1963-64 season. He helped the team play extremely well at home in Alumni Gym, posting wins against Suffolk, Lowell Tech, Nichols, AIC, and Coast Guard.
"What stands out about Larry was his hustle and awareness of the game," commented teammate and Hall of Famer Bill Nims. "He was the heart of the team who set the tempo in the game. Larry was a triple threat to take the outside shot, drive to the basket for a score, or create a shot for someone else."
As a junior, he led a much improved WPI during the 1964-65 season. The Engineers saw their win total from the previous season double to 10, including notable wins over Brandeis, Clark, and Tufts. For the second
season in a row, Penoncello averaged 11.9 points, and more impressive, as point guard he helped five teammates average double figures for the first time school history.
Little did he know, the second game during his senior year would turn out to be perhaps the most notable in the history of WPI basketball. The Crimson and Gray lost a hard-fought 71-62 decision to Army-the victory would be the first for rookie Bobby Knight, the all-time Division I leader in coaching victories.
Offensively, Penoncello's best season was the last for 19-year head coach Charlie McNulty. As a captain, he averaged 13.6 points, while draining a career-best 45.4% of his shots from the outside. As team MVP, he totaled 945 career points and started for Worcester in the annual Boston/Worcester all-star game.
Penoncello excelled outside the basketball arena at WPI as well. He was class president as a sophomore, junior, and senior and he was an active member of Skull.
"Larry deserves this honor because his passion for the game combined with his basketball skills earned him the respect of both teammates and opponents," commented teammate David LaRue. "He did everything a quality point guard does and he was the best one I ever played with. Larry always had a great attitude and I'm sure his years after WPI have revealed him as a better person than player."
Larry Penoncello graduated from WPI with a degree in civil engineering. He recently retired after a distinguished career in the automotive supply industry. Born and raised in Bristol, Conn., he and his wife, Karen, live in Canton, Conn. They have four children-Scott, Jamie, Nicole, and Gregory-and three grandchildren, Will, Abby and Mia.