- Footnotes in History -
While searching through old microfilm looking for information on past Kentucky games, it's hard to not be distracted by all the other tidbits of information which catch your eye, both inside and outside sports. Often there are some interesting bits of information which do relate to UK basketball in some way or things which are not well known but turn out to be significant in some way.
I try to note this type of infomation when I see it, and have taken a few of them and written them up as posts to Cat-Chat to provide a different dimension to the topics (and to help pass away the dog days of summer.) Below I've taken some of these posts and put them together in one place and with some additional links and graphics. Some of the information is interesting, some important points in history (whether it was known at the time or not) and some is just goofy. Hope you enjoy them.
Dateline February 14, 1908 - Skating through History
As part of going through old microfilm looking for UK boxscores, sometimes you run across things which just tease you. Especially the early part of the century where information is hard to find (if it's even there) and doesn't give a lot of detail. It seems newspapers during those times were formatted a lot differently than they are today or even as they were in the decades to follow.
For example, instead of lengthy articles, the newspapers seemed to be composed of mainly short one or two paragraph snippets about various topics scattered across the page. To make things even more frustrating when trying to locate specific items, the topics were not really organized into identifiable sections as you see today's newspapers. So it wouldn't be surprising to find mention of a basketball game located just about anywhere. Next to a marriage annoucement, details of a farm accident or a recipe for an ointment, it doesn't seem to matter where it went.
Anyway, below is a small article I happened to run across while glancing through some microfilm looking for UK games in 1908. From the Friday February 14, 1908 Lexington Leader:
A couple notes from this.
1.) As you might have guessed, there is no official record of such a game played on February 17 in the UK record book. [and no record of State College (UK) playing the high school that year] So if it was played, it would be one which has not been reported to date.
2.) Unfortunately from looking at the Monday & Tuesday papers (the day of and day after the game was supposed to be held), there is no mention of it (if it was played at all) at least in the Leader.
3.) Playing on skating rinks apparently wasn't an unheard of thing. Judging from the advertisements of the time, it seems skating was a pretty popular past-time in Kentucky at the turn of the century and it would seem a skating rink would be an ideal place to hold a basketball game, given the crude state of gymnasiums at the time. [I did a quick web search on the history of roller skating and it claims the first practical roller skate was developed by someone in Massachusetts in 1863 and over the next 20 years, it became popular in the US]
Centre College around that time used to play at a place called the Danville Rink. Advertisements for the Rink would mention the game time, and then say that you could skate before and after the contest. And I recently found from a Vanderbilt list that one of Vanderbilt's early gymnasiums (the Hippodrome in Nashville) where they played in the 1930's and early 1940's, was also a roller rink.
FWIW, in the same paper was an advertisement for the Mammoth in Lexington which gives some more information.
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Dateline January 30, 1917 - The Goat-Boy Strikes !
There's really no good reason to post this story about UK's game against Rose Polytechnic, but hopefully some will enjoy it. The game was unimportant and a blow-out. But I thought I'd mention it anyway because it does strike some interesting visual images and I think is the best I've seen at commenting on the rough play during those times.
Here's the link to the game,
First of all, the beat writer (Tom Underwood) that wrote the game # is one of the more entertaining UK beatwriters I've seen coming out of the Lexington Herald. If you like the style of this story, I'd suggest reading all his stories from that year. (Be sure to check out future Western coach Ed Diddle's tactics during free throws while he played for Centre a few games prior to this game)
The story also makes any interesting reference to the style of play the Rose squad employed. Back then, most teams kept at least one player back to defend the goal, the back guard. UK even had a player (Ellis Johnson) win all-american honors for his ability to play this position [it couldn't have been for his scoring, he averaged 3.3 ppg in his career] Sometimes the back guard would sneak up near half-court and pop a long shot (the courts were generally much smaller than they are today) but generally stayed back and weren't much of an offensive threat. The Roses instead brought a new method of attack which Underwood thought novel enough to comment on. They brought all five guys onto the offensive end at the same time ! Underwood writes:
"The Roses played a peculiar game that has never been seen before and one has his doubts as to whether it will ever been seen again. Certainly, the Pollies need no copyright or patent or whatever it would take take to keep a team from stealing their style of play. Their method was this. They hugged the Wildcat goal all the time, leaving their own side of the field open. Then when they got the ball they would avalanche down toward the goal en masse. The cataclysm was hard on the Wildcats but it failed to result in many goals. With good team work their efforts might have been more successful."
I found that interesting to see how thoroughly unimpressed Underwood was with this tactic, which although it would take at least another decade (not sure exactly when things changed significantly) would overtake offensive philosophy.
Finally, the story goes into some detail about the rough nature of the game at that time. The goat reference if priceless IMO. I have to wonder what constituted a foul back then ? Incidentally, the referee for that game, was Robert Hinton, coach of the Georgetown team (who had played and beat Rose Poly the night before in a rough game). It sounds strange today but at least at that time, it was not unusual that a coach of another team would be called to referee a game. For example, when Centre and UK played, the Georgetown coach would often officiate. When UK and Georgetown played, the Centre coach would be called to duty. I've seen where former UK coaches would come back the next year and officiate a game, likewise former UK players would be called on to toot the whistle. John DeMoisey (former UK All-American) seems to have been an official for many years after he left UK and called many UK games. (Of course more recently, George Conley (father of UK player Larry) used to officiate games Kentucky played in during the 60's, but that's not quite the same.)
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Dateline January 1918 - Old Man Winter 1, Wildcats 0 or The Curse of the Miami Big Reds
Sometimes things just aren't meant to be. At the beginning of the 1918 season, Kentucky was scheduled to travel by train to Miami (OH) University for a game. They never made it however. Here is the story as published in the Kentucky Kernal, 1/17/1918
WINTER TRIUMPHS IN KY.-MIAMI GAME
Old King Winter is a cruel old soul as his record shows. besides causing wet feet, cold hands, coal famines, gas shortage, not to speak of waterless dorms and bathless Saturdays, he has been trying his hand at preventing athletics. In the first encounter with the Wildcats, he won.
The squad started in high hopes and modest confidence for the town of Oxford, Ohio, where it was to mete out justice to the Miami University five for their presumptuous contention of a nothing to nothing football score. Things along the railroad were frozen, but Wildcat determination ran high and warm till Winter played his hand. He selected Hamilton, Ohio as the battle field and checked the advance of the Napoleons with one snow. New plans for future games were discussed by the Kentucky coaches and players as they returned home, without any knowledge of Miami's team.
The game was never rescheduled for that year. They did play however, the following year. Here is the pregame for that which talks about more hardships in getting these two schools together.
Published 3/16/1919 in the Kentucky Kernal
MIAMI VS. WILDCATS IS LAST BASKETBALL GAME
In the fall of 1917 football teams representing the University of Kentucky and Miami University fought fiercely to a tie on Stoll Field. In the spring of 1918 the Wildcat basketball team got snowbound, while on its way to Oxford, Oh., and was unable to continue the journey while old Jupiter Pluvius showered his wrath on Stoll field and kept the two teams from meeting in baseball. Flu cancelled the game last fall. But if the world doesn't come to an end first the Big Red Team and Kentucky's Wildcats will meet next Friday night in the last basketball game of the season.
As is turned out, the game wasn't worth the wait for the Wildcats. They were swamped 38-14. :-(
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Dateline February 26, 1922 - A Fork in the Road
From the February 26, 1922 Lexington Herald:
University of Kentucky is Slated for Invitation to Join Conference Proposed for Middle West Colleges
Chicago, Feb 25. - Steps toward the organization of the central intercollegiate athletic conference for all major sports in the middle West territory were taken at a meeting here today of representatives from a number of non-conference schools in the state comprising the Western Conference.
An organization committee, headed by Coach Knute Rockne, of Notre Dame, and including C.L. Bruce, manager of athletics at Detroit University, was appointed to arrange for a further meetng here March 18, at whch final plans for launching the new conference are expected to be formulated. Athletic directors and faculty members of eligible institutions will be invited and all open question anent (?) rules and regulations, schedules and associations will be discussed.
Among the delegates already slated for invitations to the meeting are: Wabash, Michigan Aggies, DePauw, University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, Marquette (Milwaukee), Detroit University and Notre Dame. It is probable that other schools will be invited later.
Today's meeting, according to leaders, grew out of a widespread feeling among collegiate athletic officials that conference organization points the only way around the evils of professionaism in amateur sports.
"There is absolutely no question but what athletics would be greatly benefited by such a conference," said Coach Rockne, in an address. "Unless a university is a member of some conference, complying with well defined rules governing eligibility, they come under suspicion, no matter how clean they may try to keep their sports."
The only important rules question left open for the March assembly was that of summer baseball, which was sidetracked today for the opinion of faculty members at the schools involved.
I found this article interesting on a number of levels. For one, the article doesn't mention this but Kentucky was already part of the SIAA (which later became the Southern Conference which later split into the SEC and ACC) at the time. If UK had joined this midwest conference, the entire backdrop would have changed from a Southern university to a midwestern one. I wonder how things would have played out in this scenario in terms of UK building its basketball legacy. This conference would have gone up against the well established Western Conference (which later became known as the Big Ten).
I also found it very interesting and even prophetic Rockne's quotes about how people view teams which don't subject themselves to the rules and regulations of a governing body, seeing how Notre Dame has been one of the biggest holdouts in terms of joining a conference (and remains so today wrt football).
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Dateline February 9, 1923 - Stung by Cupid's Arrow
published in February 9, 1923 Kentucky Kernal
Freddy Fest is Victim of Cupid's Dart; Marries in Cincinnati
Hero of Many Football Battles Downed by Little God of Love
WEDDING WAS SURPISE
Bride was Childhood Sweetheart of Wildcat Center
Freddy Fest, for three years star on the Wildcat football eleven and bidding fair to annext his first letter in basketball evaded the other members of the squad Monday morning and was married to Miss Mary Harris, of Martins Ferry, Ohio.
Fest kept the marriage a secret until after the game when he refused to return to Lexington with the team and when Coach Buchheit threatened to drop him from the team he announced that there were two for the mentor to consult. Although the basketeers had two more games to play during the week they dropped the cares of the athletic world for the time being and entertained the newlyweds until Coach Buchheit tucked the cagers to bed.
The marriage was the outcome of a childhood romance which began when Freddy and Miss Harris attended the Martins Ferry School. When Fest, who had spent his first year at college at Marietta informed his sweetheart that he was coming to Kentucky to school, she came with him and had been taking the nurse's training course at the Good Samaritan Hospital. Last fall before the football season opened when Fest was operated on for appendicitis, she nursed him through convalescence and it was largely due to her efforts that he was able to take part in the season's schedule.
Mr. and Mrs. Fest returned to Lexington Tuesday night and she will remain for several weeks before returning to Martins Ferry, where she will wait until Freddy is graduated this summer. Fest is a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity and is a senior in the college of engineering.
FWIW, Fest, who was the team captain, stayed on for the remainder of the year. Married life must have been good for him as he had two of his best games of his career, 17 points against Tennessee (likely his career high) a day after the above article was published and 14 against Sewanee in the season finale.
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Dateline January 1926 - Scouting Goes High Tech
from the Kentucky Kernal in late January
Eklund to Scout Games via Radio
Wildcat Coach Hears Georgia Tech-Georgia Game Through Air
Coach Ray Eklund may use the radio as a means of "scouting" basketball opponents of the Wildcats this season. The account of the game between Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia was heard over the radio by Coach Eklund last Friday, and he was impressed by the clear, vivid manner in which it was broadcast.
Practically all the games in the Southern conference this season will be broadcast, and providing a schedule of all conference opponents of the Kentucky team can be secured, the radio will serve as an accessible and inexpensive means of gaining a line on the various teams.
The games are broadcast play by play, and the account forms, in a sense, a "radiograph" similar to the gridgraph in football. An idea of the team's offensive and defensive styles, as well as of the individual merits of the players can be gained from the radio account, it is stated.
In former years it has been necessary to send scouts to the games in which the opponents of the Wildcats played. This has been a great expense to the athletic association, as the games are often played in cities a great distance from Lexington. It is hoped that the expense incurred by scouts on such trips can be decreased.
Dateline February 4, 1926 - A Surprise at the Door
On February 4, 1926 was played one of the most unexpected games in UK's history when the Washington & Lee basketball squad (coming all the way from Lexington, Virginia) showed up in the morning at the Athletic Director's door and claimed they had a game against UK that evening. This was news to UK and they had to scramble to put together the match in time. UK went on to win the game. Here is the boxscore.
Below is the game # as written in the Lexington Herald.
Wildcats Come From Behind in Second Half to Beat Washington-Lee, 44-34
KENTUCKY TAKES LEAD ONLY AFTER SUBDUING SPOTTS, NIFTY CENTER
Eight straight victories, including their third within the Southern Conference, is the record now sported by Kentucky's Wildcats. They continued their winning streak and kept their standing in the conference untarnished by scoring a 44 to 34 victory over the Washington and Lee Generals at the university gymnasium last night.
The game was a surprise even to officials of the school who hardly knew Washington and Lee had a basketball team until it appeared here yesterday morning, its manager producing a signed contract showing that the game had been arranged for. It was a two-year contract, signed a year ago, which Kentucky authorities had either overlooked or forgotten.
'Cats Put to Bed
Coach Ray Eklund gathered as many of his Wildcats as he could during the afternoon and put them to bed. Meanwhile, Athletic Director S.A. Boles paraded the university band through the streets, to advertise the game. The blare of trumpets did its work and the largest crowd of the season, numbering more than 2,500 persons, was present for the contest.
The game was another thriller, being productive of excellent basketball from both quintets. The Generals took a lead in the first half when Spotts, giant center, slipped in close to the basket to make several crip shots on short passes from his mates.
At one time during the first half, Washington and Lee led by nine points, but the Wildcats began solving the Generals' offense, and with Underwood and Alberts injected into the lineup to break up the visitors' attack, they rallied and the half ended, 22 to 20, in favor of the Virginians.
In the early part of the second half, dazzling floor and good shooting work by Mohney, Jenkins and Underwood sent Kentucky into the lead, 32 to 24, and the Wildcats remained in front for the remainder of the contest, again using their waiting game to advantage.
Kentucky Finds Self
Kentucky appears to have found itself and continued the snappy passing that played havoc with Alabama earlier in the week. Jenkins and Carey contributed a few shots from long range, but the majority of Wildcat field goals were of the crip variety, the ball being worked in to Mohney or Jenkins. Carey's field goal was made from the center circle and was clean as an all-day sucker in the mouth of Little Stanley, the great explorer.
Local fans marveled at Spotts. He was the biggest man on the floor and probably the fastest. All of his field goals were made with one hand and two of them especially were cleverly executed from blind angles. Without Spotts, the Generals would have been weak as a toy balloon. Mohney and Jenkins again led in Kentucky's play, although Underwood, Alberts and Captain Carey did some excellent guarding.
In a preliminary game, Coach Lovell Underwood's University High school five defeated the Danville Deaf and Dumb Institute, 21 to 3. The local five took the lead early and held a decided advantage throughout. Gormley was high point man with 10.
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Dateline February 14, 1938 - A Shot from Above
Many I'm sure are familiar with the movie Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner hears the voice "Build it, and they will come." But did you know that Kentucky has a similar type of story in it's vast history ?
Red Hagan was a lad of destiny last night. He felt it, and so did all those fans who saw Red, a devout Catholic, kneel in the middle of the floor, bless himself, mumble a prayer, and then bless himself again. A few seconds later, Red fired the shot that sent the Marquette Catholics home defeated.
It was in answer to a command that Hagan fired the ball at that precise moment. He said so after the game.
"A voice said to me," declared the battle-flushed Kentuckian, "Shoot Hagan, and it will go through the net. I shot and it went through."
One important thing to note about this shot was that Hagan shot it with plenty of time left on the clock for Marquette to come back and tie the game (unlike, for example Vernon Hatton's shot vs. Temple where he had no choice but to shoot because the time was nearly out.) With his taking such an improbable shot and giving Marquette a chance to score, the odds were running heavily toward him being the goat. In fact, even though Hagan made the shot, Marquette did have multiple chances to at least tie the score, but they failed on each occassion. You can read more about that game at the following link:
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Dateline March 4, 1938 - The Greenies Strike
Ran across a game # from the late 1930's that I found interesting. This UK squad was undefeated in the conference, although they did lose a few out of conference games.
What I found interesting was not so much the game itself but a paragraph deep in the text.
BATON ROUGE, LA. - A field goal by Paul Pare, forward in the final seconds of play, gave Tulane University Greenies a 38 to 36 victory over the favored University of Kentucky Wildcats tonight in the final second round game of the annual Southeastern Conference basketball tournament here tonight.
It was the first upset of the first and second rounds of play in the tournament. For Tulane it was its second triumph of the day for in an afternoon game only a few hours earlier the Greenies had put the University of Georgia out of the running.
Tulane would never let loose of the Wildcats and Pare's field goal from the foul line in the last few seconds broke a 36 to 36 deadlock and blasted Kentucky out of the tournament. The Wildcats were the defending champions and highly favored to win the title again this year, but tonight wasn't their night. The cards were stacked against them. The defeat probably cost them a trip to New York to play in a intercollegiate tournament for eight of the nation's outstanding basketball teams as the Cats were to be invited tonight.
For those who didn't catch it, that tournament UK missed was the inagural National Invitational Tournament, which predated the NCAA tournament by one year. In those early days, the field consisted of 2 local New York teams, 2 Eastern teams and 2 from the Midwest or Far West. That particular field included NYU and Long Island, Temple and Bradley (presumably this counted as an Eastern team ?) along with Oklahoma A & M and Colorado. Temple won that tournament.
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Dateline January 21, 1939 - A Familiar Face Returns
With the impending arrival of Rick Pitino in Lexington to coach a game against the Big Blue and all the hub-bub that's going to (and already has) create. Some may not know that this is NOT the first time a former head coach at UK came back to coach against his former team. It's happened before.
So I thought it appropriate to mention what happened when Mauer returned to Lexington for the first time. Here's some snippets from the (admittedly tame) pre-game story by the Lexington Herald's Ed Ashford:
Coach Adolph Rupp's University of Kentucky Wildcats will make their Southeastern Conference debut tonight at the University gymnasium with Coach Johnny Mauer's Tennessee Volunteers furnishing the opposition. The tilt will start at 8 o'clock.
Coach Rupp has been working his boys hard all week and is expecting the Tennessee team to furnish plenty of opposition tonight. Last year the Volunteers gave the Wildcats more trouble than any other conference team met during the regular season and this year playing their first season under Mauer, who preceded Rupp at the University of Kentucky, the Volunteers apparently have just hit their stride. Wednesday night, Mauer's team annihilated Sewanee's Tigers, 51 to 27 for their first Big 13 triumph of the season.
This will be the first time that a Rupp-coached team will meet one tutored by Mauer and the fans will have an opportunity to compare Rupp's style of play with that used by the erstwhile Kentucky mentor. Mauer, after leaving here, coached at Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, until last fall when he was signed by Tennessee to replace Blair Gullion, when the latter accepted a post at Cornell.
Perhaps a bad omen, but Kentucky played poorly that game and Tennessee was able to escape with an upset on UK's homecourt. Here's the boxscore and game writeup.
In fact, of the first 15 games played between Mauer and Rupp, Mauer held his own with a 7-8 record. This included two UK losses in the SEC tournament championship game. I wouldn't like to see how UK fans would handle a similar scenario with "Traitor" Rick ?
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Dateline January 7, 1940 - Donkey Basketball at its finest
From the January 7, 1940 Lexington Herald
Braying Battles Are Promised in Donkey Basketball Games
Basketball's version of "Three Men on a Horse" will be staged in the U.K. Alumni gym Wednesday and Thursday nights when Lexingon athletes mount rubber-shod donkeys and plod forth to braying frays on Wildcat hardwood.
Jackass basketball, a comparatively new recreation, is played with a regulation pellet, has special rules and shorter periods than the homo sapiens variety. Passing and shooting are executed while players are astride their burros and penalty shots are awarded when a member dismounts for any reason other than retrieving the ball from the floor.
Double-headers are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday nights. First twin-bill sends the University coaching staff quintet spurring against a chosen five from the U.K. faculty, a squad that should feel strange riding something besides the students. The nightcap pits Wildcat football backs against a team composed of linemen.
Thursday's double order (post time 8 o'clock) calls for an opener between the Optimists Club and the Junior Chamber of Commerce. The Micky Finn will be supplied by teams picked from the Engineering College and the Law College.
Sponsors of the burlesque are the "K" club, Kentucky varsity lettermen and Omicron Delta Kappa, campus honoroary leaders coterie. Adults' tariff is 40 cents, childrens' 25 cents. Both hoop rodeos start at 8 p.m.
The equine proletarians to be ridden during the gallops are supplied by Ralph Godfrey's Crescent Okla. ranch.
The respective squads follow:
UK Coaches - Ab Kirwan, Bernie Shively, Frank Moseley, Gene Myers, Joe Rupert, Joe Huddleston, Lloyd Ramsey, Paul McBrayer and Adolph Rupp. Coach - S.A. (Daddy) Boles; trainer - Frank (Skipper) Mann; manager - Buster Brown; cheer leader - Mrs. Greenwood Coconaugher
Junior Chamber of Commerce - Richard Bush, Joe Arnold, Carryl Britt, Leonard Cox, Louis Brock, Walter Hillenmeyer, Louis Hillenmeyer, Garvice Kinkead, Speedy Wilson and Ed Houlihan. Coach - Paul Nickell.
Optimist Club - Louis Ades, Nathan Elliott, Paul Mansfield, Waller Jones, Petey Powell, Ted Hardwick, O.A. Bakhaus, Bernie Shively, Ab Kirwan, Frank Moseley, Willis Haley and Dod Dodson. Coach - Emmet Milward, manager - Felix Kennedy; team physician - Dr. C.G. McLean; trainer - Ballard Woods; veterinarian - Dr. S.S. Parks
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Dateline - March 14, 1942 - A Game Played for a Cause
March 1942, the United States was getting back on its feet and preparing for a long war, having just weathered a surprise attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor a few months before and declaring war on enemies on each side. To help with the effort, a game was scheduled between Kentucky and the Great Lakes Naval Station in Louisville to raise funds for the Navy Relief Society.
The teams put together by the Naval Station during the second world war was literally a who's who of former college basketball players prior to the war. The team UK faced in 1942 had no less than six former All-Americans, including Lee Huber who had been an All-American at Kentucky under coach Adolph Rupp. The others were "Junie" Andres and Bill Menke (Indiana U), Frank Baumholtz (Ohio U), Bob Calihan (Detroit) and Dick Klein (Northwestern)
Also on that team was Forrest (Forddy) Anderson of Stanford who went on to be a well-respected coach at Bradley and Michigan State.
UK facing 6 players who held All-American status may well be a record. One team which may give them a run for their money is the Great Lakes team of the following year.
That team again featured Dick Klein but also had former All-Americans Ed Riska (Notre Dame) Bob Davies (Seton Hall) George "the blind bomber" Glamack (North Carolina), Forrest Sprowl (Purdue) and Gilbert Huffman (Tennessee).
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Dateline - January 24, 1943 - Recruiting them Young
Warning: This message only has a very slight link to UK. It talks about former Notre Dame coach Elmer Ripley and some of his players (which included ND player Billy Hassett) and was IMO quite an amazing story. I ran across this article, and having recently written the series history between Notre Dame and UK recognized the names.
As an aside, Hassett played for Ripley when Notre Dame played UK in 1946
and earlier played against UK while Clem Crowe was the coach at Notre Dame.
If you read the series history, you might remember that after George Keogan died in the early 1940's, Notre Dame went through a string of coaches.
Anyway, this article doesn't deal with Notre Dame or UK at all, but with what happened prior to that when Hassett and Ripley were at Georgetown in Washington DC. From the Lexington Herald-Leader in 1943.
WASHINGTON, D.C. Jan. 23 (AP) - Just as a joke, Elmer Ripley pitted a team of 11-year-old New York youngsters against Temple University's famed championship five at a basketball clinic in Madison Square Garden. The purpose was to demonstrate Temple's zone defense, which had baffled the best collegiate teams.
What Rip saw made him gasp. The kids passed the ball in, around and through the zone and scored with monotonous regularity. And Temple wasn't fooling.
That was some eight yars ago, and Ripley's kept tabs on the kids ever since. When he left Yale, and moved to Georgetown as basketball coach, Ripley sold the young men the merits of higher education at Georgetown.
So today the rare combination of youth and experience is blended in the all-sophomore Georgetown five, a fact which qualifies the Hoyas as one of the two youngest quints in the East.
There's that combination of Danny Kraus and Billy Hassett as breathing proof of the success of the metamorphosis. Rip says Kraus is "the kind of a ball player who makes a team click." Danny, all-New York City selection in the 1939-40 and 1940-41 seasons while at DeWitt Clinton High, was incapacitated much of his freshman season by a bad knee, but he's in his old form now.
Hassett, a neighbor of Kraus in the Bronx, served his basketball apprenticeship at LaSalle Military Academy, Oakdale, Long Island, where he played baseball in addition to basketball. He was named the most valuable player in the 1940 Eastern State tournament at Glens Falls, N.Y.; in 1941 he was named on the all-Eastern team.
And there are many others of the same ilk on the hand-picked squad, many of them the same 11-year-olds who fooled Temple that night. Most are from New York and New Jersey, and all of them are top cream - guys like Lloyd Potilicchio, Don Gabbianelli and Meggs Reilly, to mention a few.
A couple things I found noteworthy, beyond the main fact that these schoolboys ended up playing for and succeeding with Ripley.
1.) Hassett left Georgetown and ended up at Notre Dame (transfers during WWII era were not uncommon) where he eventually ended up playing for the same coach he played for at Georgetown. How many times does something like that happen ?
2.) Hassett was named All-American during his career and that 1943 Georgetown team actually made it to the NCAA Championship final, where they got beat by Wyoming. I'm sure most people assume Georgetown had little noteworthy basketball accomplishments before John Thompson took over.
3.) I found it interesting that Temple was renowned for their zone defense. Another case of the more things change, the more they stay the same !
FWIW, I sent that article to a guy who runs a very good historical website devoted to Georgetown and he wasn't aware of the story, even though he's written a short (but interesting) history of the Georgetown program.
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Dateline January 1, 1945 - Quizzing the Kitty
from the Lexington Herald, January 1, 1945 while UK was in New York City playing Clair Bee's Long Island Blackbirds after winning a squeaker over Temple in Philadelphia a few nights before and Wyoming before that (in Buffalo NY of all places).
The Cats filled their jeans at the quiz show when Phil Baker, the master of ceremonies, decided to double the usual $64 award for the last question.
Kenton (Dutch) Campbell, second-string center from Newark Ohio, was called out of the audience to read the questions after Schu had stated the team's business in New York, and the audience was rooting for the Wildcats all the way.
After Schu had given all of the answers correctly, Baker announced that each of the two Kentucky participants would receive $64. Schu and Campbell then announced they would split the money with their teammates.
The Herald received numerous telephone calls from Lexingtonians who heard the broadcast.
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Dateline February 28, 1947 - Sometimes you have to leave some behind
from the February 28, 1947 Louisville Courier Journal:
by Roy Steinfort, Courier-Journal Staff Writer
In an eleventh-hour decision, the Baron from the Bluegrass decided to sacrifice rangy six-foot five-inch Brannum and lanky six-foot three-inch Jordan.
"We'll need speed, not height to win this affair," Rupp announced in making his final selections.
Two freshmen, of all people - green as grass in collegiate basketball circles - were nominated by Rupp to fill in for the two displaced All-Americans.
And Line wasn't a bad choice. He collected 20 points against Vanderbilt - which isn't bad for a freshman.
Jordan, twice an All-American at North Carolina as a Navy V-12 student during the war, has never measured up to Kentucky's standards for fast-breaking firehouse basketball.
Brannum early this season was used as a first line replacement for regular pivoter Alex Groza, currently Kentucky's leading scorer.
Both Brannum and Jordan displayed obvious disappointment in not being selected for the coveted tournament assignment.
"We have to agree with the coach," Jordan sadly said last night as he observed his teammates massacre Vanderbilt.
Brannum smiled and said, "There's really not much I can say, is there ?"
As expected - and predicted - Adolph Rupp, or his Kentucky Wildcats, didn't take any mercy on an undermanned Vanderbilt team.
Rupp several weeks ago proposed to his S.E.C. colleauges that the tournament squad be raised from the present 10-man limit to 12 players.
But the rivals - probably because Rupp first suggested it - voted the proposal down seven to five.
Vanderbilt's Coach Norman Cooper was one who voted against the idea. After a fashion, Rupp early this week privately indicated that he was coming to Louisville to unleash his team's great offensive power.
Vandy's Cooper knew what he was in for before the game. After the affair got rolling good - and his boys were behind by 40 points - Cooper pulled out a cigar, applied some fire and relaxed.
The inevitable was happening. And there wasn't much he could do about it.
After it was over, Cooper said: "I've seen Kentucky hot, but this exhibition tops them all. There wasn't much Rupp could do, he only had 10 players."
Postscript - Kentucky went on to win the SEC Tournament that year by beating Auburn (84-18), Georgia Tech (75-53) and Tulane (55-38)., despite Alex Groza being less than effective with a lame back. Kentucky went on to participate in the NIT that year, but Brannum was again missing from the traveling squad as he had decided to transfer to Michigan State. The following year, Brannum and the Spartans nearly upset Kentucky's Fabulous Five in a packed Jenison Fieldhouse. Brannum went on to play six years in the NBA.
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Dateline December 30, 1950 - In Remembrance of a (Chump)ion
In December of 1950, the Herald ran a short article talking a little bit about this inglorious season in UK history. (along with a team photo which I haven't seen anywhere else)
So in the name of remembering the good with the bad when it comes to UK's history, here's the article.
Fans Little Remember (Or Care To) The Season When UK Cagers Won Only Three of 16 Games
By Lewis Donohew
ILL-FATED BASKETEERS -- The Kentucky Wildcats of 1926-27 (pictured above) were an ill-fated team, found the going rough from start to finish and won only three contest over a full-season schedule of 16 games. The team members were, left to right, front row -- Jimmy Sharpe, Claire Dees, Foster Helm, Capt. Paul Jenkins, Frank Phipps and Edwin Knadler; second row -- Coach Basil Hayden (All-America at Kentucky in 1921), Ferdinand Wieman, Egbert Marshall, Bill Heizer and Bill Ropke.
Nowadays when the University of Kentucky basketball team romps through a season -- winning nine-tenths of its games over big time oponents -- and then breezes through a national tournament, not even the most rabid fan will lift a eybrow in surprise.
It is no more than is expected of the famous basketeers.
But how many fans can recall the days when basketball prospects weren't so bright. How many can remember the year in the Alumni gym era that the Cats won only three games during an entire season. That's right - just three victories out of a full schedule of 16 contests. The mark was posted in 1926-27 during the third year of play in the school's fine new Alumni gymnasium.
On Dec. 9 of this year Memorial Coliseum was dedicated to athletics at Kentucky and the veteran Alumni gym was presented with a plaque, commemorating the great record of the Wildcats during their stay there - 478 wins against 114 losses, including the three-victory season.
Centre Beaten Twice
Two of the Kentucky triumphs that year were over Centre. The Colonels were the No. 1 rivals in those days and the wins were appreciated about as much as a football victory over Tennessee would be today.
"Back then if we beat Centre all other losses were forgiven," reminisced S.A. (Daddy) Boles, athletic director during the '26-'27 season and now veterans' housing projects manager at UK.
"Other than that, I don't remember the season too well," said Boles, "except that it was a good year to forget."
The Cats were ill-fated from the start that year. They lost their coach because of illness a short time before the season opened and Basil Hayden, All-American Forward at Kentucky in 1921, had to jump in to take over the coaching duties. The Kentucky team dropped four straight games before settlng down to whip Florida, 44-36 for its first triumph.
Then came the first big game with Centre. The Colonels came into town with all the confidence and audacity in the world. Their football team had slaughtered the Wildcats in the fall and here was the chance to make it a clean sweep.
Kentucky won, 27-25, on a field goal by Forward Edwin (Toots) Knadler just as the game-ending whistle sounded, after Knadler had given the Cats their tying points on a crip shot a few seconds earlier.
The Kentucky Kernal, UK's student newspaper, commented after the game "In many respects athletics at the University this year have been disheartening. But when the basketball team wins its most important game when even its staunchest supporters doubted its ability to do so and in such a glorious manner as the Centre game was won, the future takes on a rosier aspect."
Maybe it seemed rosy then, but it did not stay that way long. The Wildcats played the rest of the season without winning a single game, other than their second victory over Centre, to become the most ill-faring team in modern Wildcat history (since the beginning of the Alumni gym era in 1924).
At that time Kentucky was a member of the Southern Conference. A little while before the end of the season the Cats were informed that if they won two more games they would be invited to the conference tournament. But they couldn't quite get up that extra push to put them in the victory column again.
After the season the Kernal editorial writer said "The entire student body knows the situation. For the first time Kentucky has not been invited to attend the Southern Conference tourney. The Blue and white basketeers, following in the wake of their football brothers sufferd the worst season in many many years."
Only two times did Kentucky cagers ever win less games and those were on the abbreviated schedules of 1904-05 and 1906-07 when they turned in 1-1 and 2-4 records, respectively.
At the athletic banquet following the end of the season Boles said "Just the determination to win games is not everything in athletic contests. The question of honor is the most important thing at stake and I can say with great appreciation that this year's team was as clean a bunch of players as I have ever seen."
And there you have it. The mark of that years seems almost unbelievable when compared to that of the present-day Wildcats, who hold a record of 416 wins and 77 losses under Coach Adolph Rupp, in the last two decades who have played in fifteen national tournaments and who have an overall tournament record (including the Southeastern) of 72 victories against 16 defeats.
But every team has some years that, as Boles said, it would like to forget. And when Kentucky followers get together the '26-'27 season is the one that is not mentioned in polite conversation.
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Dateline March 21, 1952 - Pulling Back the Welcome Mat
Some may have seen that in the 1952 NCAA Tournament, No. 1 ranked Kentucky got beat by No. 10 St. John's in Raleigh, at the North Carolina State's Reynolds Coliseum.
This was a huge upset, as earlier in the year, Kentucky hosted St. Johns in Lexington and won the game convincingly 81-40.
According to Tev Laudemann's book, The Rupp Years
St. John's didn't figure to be much trouble the next night. After all UK, which had improved steadily as the season progressed to finish No. 1 in the polls, had polished off the New York team easily back in December.
The UK players got the idea that St. John's players expected to lose. Both teams stayed in the same North Carolina State dormitory, and UK players suspected that some of the St. John's team had drunk a few beers. They could hear the St. John's players laughing and yelling and having water fights well past a normal curfew.
The next night St. John's beat UK 64-57. Bob Zawoluk, the 6-7 center who always had so much trouble scoring against [Bill] Spivey, tallied 32 points and Jack McMahon (later a pro coach with Kansas City, Chicago, Cincinnati San Diego and Pittsburgh) scored 18. [Cliff] Hagan scored 22 points, but he, Billy Evans and Lou Tsioropoulos fouled out.
St. John's coach Frank McGuire apparently didn't know about his team's casual attitude of the night before. "Our boys hadn't forgotten that game (at Lexington in December) and were determined to make up for it." he said.
Those in the know say that the real reason the teams are quartered in NC State dormitories here instead of hotels is because no Raleigh hotel would accept Negroes as guests. There are Negro players on both the Penn State and St. Johns squads.
In McGuire's book, Frank McGuire - The Life and Times of a Legend, it mentions a part of this episode in history although it doesn't mention the dormitories at all (which actually leads to questions whether the black players even stayed in the dormitories or not). [I should mention that McGuire's recollections don't always square with other information I find from other sources.]
Ultimately, Walker and two black players from Penn State
were put up by some local Catholic priests who were friends
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Dateline December 12, 1953 - Somethin' Just ain't Right
It looked like just your typical thrashing of the Xavier Musketeers by the Kentucky Wildcats. Frank Ramsey scored 27 points and Kentucky won the game going away 81-66.
Typical except for one detail which postponed the game for a number of minutes. According to Ed Ashford's column in the Lexington Herald-Leader:
"The start of the game was held up 15 minutes when [Adolph] Rupp's eagle eye detected that the goals were too far away from the foul lines. A tape measure was called for and it was discovered the goals had been set 16 feet from the foul line instead of 15 feet.
According to veteran [Cincinnati] Garden sports observers, the goals had been set in that manner for the last three years, but no one noticed it until tonight. It took several minutes for the Garden attendants to move them to the correct spot."
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Dateline March 19, 1966 - Not a whole lot new under the sun
Included in the aftermath of UK's loss to Texas Western in the 1966 National Championship game, Lexington Herald Sports Editor Billy Thompson wrote a couple of snippets in his 'Pressbox Pickups' column concerning the earlier game with Duke.
You can file these under 'these sound familiar, haven't I seen these recently ?' So much for originality !
From the March 20th, 1966 Lexington Herald.
Banners around the fieldhouse at College Park were numerous. The Duke contingent had a big winner which read: 'We're only No. 2 so we try harder.'
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Return to Kentucky Wildcat Basketball Page.Page written by Jon Scott January 26, 2004