Joe B. Hall begins his 10th season as head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats with 11 returning lettermen, including five starters.
While leading the Wildcats to a 22-6 record last year, Hall upped his nine-year UK record to 205-66, an average of 22 wins per season, to keep ahead of the pace set by his former coach, Adolph Rupp, who averaged 21.5 victories a season over a 41-season span to become the winningest collegiate basketball coach of all time.
Perhaps the best appraisal of the job Hall has been doing at the University came from Rupp, who died in 1977.
"A good coach," Rupp said, "is a person who can take good material and win with it. Joe has done that."
Judging from Hall's coaching honors, Rupp was as usual, right on target with his evaluation.
Hall has won such honors as Kellogg's 1978 National "Coach of the Year," three Southeastern Conference "Coach of the Year" awards (1973, '75, and 78) in seven years, and nomination for Kodak's 1975, '76, and '78 (finalist) "Coach of the Year" awards.
In 1978 when Kentucky won its
fifth NCAA title, Hall was also presented the Rupp Cup (presented to the SEC Coach of the Year by the Birmingham Tipoff Club) and Hall's most coveted personal award, the Dr. James Naismith "Peachbasket" award, which previously had been awarded to UCLA's John Wooden, Oklahoma State's Hank Iba, Kentucky's Adolph Rupp, and the Boston Celtics' Red Auerbach.
The 1978 champions, which had a 30-2 record, became the sixth Wildcat team to win 30 or more games, joining such illustrious company as the 1947 NIT runner-up (34-3), the 1948 Olympic Champions (36-3), the 1949 NCAA champions (32-2), the 1951 NCAA champions (32-2), and the 1966 NCAA runner-up (32-2).
Entering this season, Hall's 15 year career coaching record stands at 281-122, (excluding a 17-2 record on a 1974 Australian tour, a 7-0 record on a 1978 Japan tour, and six pre-season exhibition wins against foreign and domestic teams) and that record was compiled against nationally ranked non-conference teams and teams in a conference that fast is becom-
ing recognized as among the toughest in the nation. Broken down, it shows a 57-50 five-year mark at Regis, a 19-6 record at Central Missouri, and a 205-66 record at UK.
Hall began his tour as UK head coach in rather auspicious fashion, becoming in 1973 the first rookie coach in the SEC to be designated Coach of the Year by his fellow coaches and by Coach and Athlete Magazine.
Gathering such honors has been one of Hall's trademarks during a coaching career that began at Shepherdsville (Ky.) High School in 1956 and continued through Regis College and Central Missouri State College before he returned to UK July 1, 1965, as an assistant to his former coach, Adolph Rupp.
During Hall's two years at Shepherdsville, the Rams won a Mid-Kentucky conference title and he was named "Coach of the Year" in 1958. He then served one year as freshman coach and five years as head basketball coach at Regis College in Denver, Colo., where he was also athletic director and earned special recognition as