KENTUCKY TRADITION ENRICHED WITH NAISMITH MEMORIAL HALL OF FAME GAME APPEARANCE
When the Kentucky Wildcats meet the opening tipoff of the first annual Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Springfield, Mass., Nov. 17, another chapter will be written in college basketball's richest tradition.
The Wildcats became world famous under the tutelage of Adolph Rupp, who took over an already sound program in 1930 and built a powerhouse that attracted national attention in the late 30's and early 40s with a fastbreak offense that helped popularize the game as it is known today.
The nickname "Wildcats" fit their style of never-say-die, give-no-quarter play and their finely honed teamwork became a standard for all team sports.
And the name "Kentucky" (An Indian name meaning "Happy Hunting Ground") had a lyrical ring to it, further enhancing the aura surrounding the "Kentucky Wildcats."
But it was the year 1948 before Kentucky really became a worldwide household name when five Wildcats —Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones, Cliff Barker, Alex Groza, Ralph Beard and Capt. Kenny Rollins—later immortalized as the "Fabulous Five," led the United States to the Olympic Gold Medal in London, England.
Now under the direction of Joe B. Hall, a freshman on that 1948 Wildcat team, Kentucky has, if anything, become a more solid and feared team than ever as Hall has racked up a 154-54 seven-year record for an average of 22 wins per year. Included in that string are a 1978 NCAA championship, a 1975 NCAA runner-up, a 1976 NIT title and four Southeastern Conference championships.
The Wildcats became the first college team to reach 1,0XX) victories when they beat Florida, 88-67, Jan. 11, 1969. The Wildcat's current total of 1,238 is far ahead of No. 2 Kansas' 1,183, and their respected opponent in the "Hall of Fame" game, Duke, whose 1,090 wins rank ninth.
Two Kentuckians have been enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame —coach Adolph Rupp in 1968 and Cliff Hagan, current UK Director of Athletics, as a player in 1978.
FRONT COVER PICTURE-Coach Joe B. Hall, kneeling, poses with Wildcat seniors Jay Shidler, La Von Williams and Kyle Macy.
Credits: UK Photo Services—John Mitchell, Ken Goad and Bill Wells; Bradley Photographers, Dallas, Texas. Design and Layout; UK Printing Services-Mark Elam, Sharon Clemmons and Ed Swift.