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13 > Image 13 of Tip-Off: Featuring Kentucky Wildcats, 1974-1975

Part of Tip-Off

Basketball, horse racing, and tobacco are all cornerstones in the cultural tradition of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It's difficult to say which one is deemed the most significiant, but all ' are considered to be inexpendable. That is why basketball at the University of Kentucky is not just a game, it is a way of life. The sport is revered by Kentuckians as something extra special. The responsibility of perpetuating this seemingly irreversible basketball trend at U.K. belongs to Joe B. Hall. Joe was sworn in as the head coach of the Wildcats in 1972, succeeding the fabled Adolf Rupp and being surrounded by Rupps ever-present legend. So often a coaching transition of this type is not as silky smooth as it was intended to be. Many a coach has met failure when he could not reach the high standards set by a high and mighty predecessor. This is not so for Joe Hall. As Hall began competing in the S.E.C., he found a vastly improved league in which lower division teams could not be taken lightly, as had been the case in previous years. Joes first Wildcat entry of 1972-73 carried the Big Blue banner to the S.E.C. pinnacle. It was a season with many trying moments and with a painfully slow start, but Hall patiently rounded his team into championship style. Hall was voted by his fellow coaches in the league as the S.E.C. Coach of the Year, the only rookie coach ever so honored. Last years squad never realized = contender status but the 1974-75 team is again regarded as a threat for the S.E.C. flag. Joe Hall is a gentleman on and off the court. He personifies decency, and he has the respect of his own men as well as his opponents. With his high level of character, intelligence, and ability as a coach, he will continue to achieve excellence for Kentucky basketball. l