Bruce Rodwan, University of Detroit Hall-of-Fame basketball player, dies at 74

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Bruce Rodwan, a Hall-of-Fame basketball player at the University of Detroit who once led the team to a stunning victory over defending Big Ten champion Indiana as well as Notre Dame during his senior season and guided Ferndale High to a boys state championship in 1963, has died.

Rodwan, who lived in Pleasant Ridge, died Monday. He was 74.

Rodwan was inducted into the Titan Hall of Fame in 1987, in recognition for his three years as a letterwinner for Detroit, from 1965-68. He scored 1,116 points, still 26th in program history, and his 907 rebounds still rank sixth all-time.

Bruce Rodwan was a Hall-of-Fame basketball player at the University of Detroit.

He was a team captain twice, as a junior, when he averaged 16.4 points and 13.4 rebounds, and a senior, when he averaged 15.2 points and 11.1 rebounds.

"That was a very rewarding time for me," Rodwan recently told Detroit Mercy's Dan Hasty during a recent taping of the Titan Memory Podcast, speaking of teammates voting him captain.

As a senior, he tallied a career-high 36 points and 19 rebounds in a 99-93 victory over defending Big Ten champion Indiana on Jan. 2, 1968, in Detroit. A month later, Detroit beat Notre Dame, 82-79, in South Bend.

As a junior, Rodwan hit the tying layup and winning shot at the buzzer as Detroit Mercy beat Marquette, 94-92, in overtime at Detroit on Jan. 24, 1967. Famously, a fight broke out afterward, and legendary Marquette head coach Al McGuire was arrested.

At Detroit, Rodwan played under Bob Calihan, for whom the arena now is named. Rodwan loved playing for Calihan and said the lasting lesson he learned was loyalty.

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He also shared a funny anecdote about Calihan on the podcast with Hasty.

"We were playing DePaul and I was just having a horrible game, and he took me out. I don't think I ever went back in the game," Rodwan said. "The next day I went into his office, I was upset about the whole thing and I was asking him about it.

"He said, 'Well, I just forgot about you!' That told me how bad my play was."

In high school, Rodwan led Ferndale to the Class A state title in 1963, 76-58 over Adrian, and was named to the all-tournament team. 

He began playing basketball in the fourth grade, at the urging of his brother, Gordon.

Following college, Rodwan became an attorney in the area and ran a successful private practice, eventually becoming general counsel for a local hospital. He also delved into real estate and financial consultation, when he wasn't golfing at his home course, Red Run in Royal Oak, traveling the world or playing with his dogs.

Rodwan is survived by wife of 49 years, Sandy, his brother and a niece and nephew.

His funeral was Thursday in Ferndale.

Rodwan's death is the latest to recently the Detroit basketball program, after legendary assistant and one-time head coach David "Smokey" Gaines (Sept. 5, 80) and Hall-of-Fame player Terry Duerod (Nov. 13, 64).

Twitter: @tonypaul1984