Adolph Rupp & Kentucky Basketball

 The University of Kentucky is located in Lexington, and large hotels, the Civic Center and Rupp Arena are part of the present skyline.  the Phoenix Hotel was a well-known landmark.  Many visiting teams stayed there.  The university’s campus is gorgeous, with old buildings and beautiful trees adorning its grounds.  Alumni Gym and Memorial Coliseum are two of those buildings.  Adolph Rupp was the basketball coach at Kentucky from 1931 to 1972, and his teams won 875 games and lost 190 for an amazing winning percentage of .822.  The “Baron of the Bluegrass or “The Man in the Brown Suit” as he was often called, passed away in 1977.  During the 1940s, Kentucky was a dominant power.   The Fabulous Five won the NCAA title in 1948 and 1949.   Led by All-Americans Ralph Beard and Alex Groza (brother of famed field-goal kicker Lou Groza of the Cleveland Browns), the 1948-49 team beat the great coach Hank Iba and his Oklahoma A&M squad.  They were ranked second in the country behind Kentucky.  A&M  was noted for its defensive prowess, ball control, and half court offense.  They did not give their opponents much opportunity to run and score.  Kentucky was a run and gun team.  It was a great matchup.   Groza was the Wildcats’ leading scorer with 25 points, and he was named the Tournament MVP.  In 1951, Groza and Beard confessed to point shaving.  Each player received $500 to shave down the point difference in the Kentucky-Loyola game in 1949.  Loyola beat the Wilcats, who had won 29 of 30 regular season games.  Rupp’s 1946-47 team went 34-4 and reached the finals of the NIT.  The 1947-48 squad finished the regular season 31-2 and beat Holy Cross, who was on a 19-game winning streak in the regional finals.  The great Bob Cousy was the Crusaders’ star.  This Kentucky team went on to win the NCAA Championship.  Other players who have displayed their skills and graced the Hardwoods of the University of Kentucky were:   Seven-foot Bill Spivey, who led the Wildcats to a national title;  Cliff Hagan and Fank Ramsey, who teamed up to lead Kentucky to an undefeated season, and Vernon Hatton, Cotton Nash, Dan Issel, Kevin Grevey, Kyle Macy, Sam Bowie, Jamel Mashburn, Schenectady’s Pat Riley, and Louie Dampier ( Riley and Dampier were both members of Rupp’s Runts.)

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