|Title:||Class of 2010|
The 1980s saw a great run for men’s basketball under the guidance of head coach Ken Kaufman. A key cog at the beginning of that successful era was Russ Philpot.
A Somerville native and graduate of North Cambridge Catholic, Philpot began playing a key role as a reserve during his freshman season of 1979-80, averaging 4.8 points and 4.4 rebounds as the Engineers went 9-13.
Sophomore year saw him blossom into a legitimate star. He was named team MVP and a UPI Division III second team All-New England selection after scoring 20.2 points per game an impressive 61 percent shooting from the floor. Philpot had a record-setting season on the boards, tying the school record with 197 rebounds (8.6). His season may have been highlighted by a two-day stretch that saw a 30-point performance in a 56-38 road win at Coast Guard and 29 points and 11 rebounds in a victory over Middlebury.
The winter of 1981-82 was one of uncharted waters for the WPI basketball program. The season started out well with a 88-78 win against archrival Clark in the championship of the Worcester Four Home Federal Savings Tipoff Tournament. Philpot registered 26 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists as the Engineers halted Clark’s streak of 36 straight victories over New England Division III opponents.
The season continued, with key wins over Trinity (on the road) and Williams, helping the Crimson and Gray earn its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. Pitted in a regional with defending national champion Potsdam State and Clark, the Engineers dropped a heartbreaking 58-57 decision to host Salem State in a game that featured 17 lead changes and 11 ties. Philpot totaled 23 points en route to capping a season averaging 16.6 points and 8.7 rebounds and setting a new season rebounding record.
“Russell was an extremely talented player,” commented Hall of Famer Kaufman. “He improved every year at WPI until he became the player that all our opponents tried to stop. He was such a proficient scorer, we called one of our offenses “Give it Russell.”
Philpot eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone early in his senior year, posting 16 points while defeating Nichols in December of 1982. It was only a sign of things to come—in February he surpassed Rick Wheeler’s all-time school scoring record. Individual marks were not the only new standards set during the1982-83 campaign as the Engineers as a team won a school-best 15 games.
He ended his career with 1,397 career points. The mechanical engineering major was a two-time ECAC first-team All-New England all-star and a two-time member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District team.
In the professional world, he has amassed astrong track record in industry, including a U.S. Patent, publication in numerous national trade magazines, and recognition in national and international sales. Russ and his wife, Lynne (Ondek ’82), have lived in Sterling the past 20 years, enjoying “small town” life. Their daughters, Sarah and Lindsey, are both in college.