Tag Archives: Basketball History

Wildcat Slush: A Treat for Players and Fans Alike

Ah, March in the Bluegrass… There might be snow (check), there might be spring (still waiting), but there’s always madnessMarch Madness, that is. Since the Big Dance started yesterday, we figured Wildcat fans would be starting to prepare for Thursday, when UK faces Davidson College at 7:10 PM EST in the first round. (We’d be remiss if we failed to mention that Murray State, the other Kentucky team in this year’s tourney, tips off against West Virginia tomorrow at 4 PM. Good luck, Racers!)

If you’re gathering with a group to cheer on the Cats, you have to have the right snacks and drinks, right? If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic treat fit for champions (or those cheering on champions [*fingers crossed*]), we’ve got just the trick: Wildcat Slush.

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Deliciously sweet and easy to prepare, Wildcat Slush became a postgame treat and “pick-me-up” of sorts for the ‘78 NCAA Championship team. In the following excerpt from Forty Minutes to Glory: Inside the Kentucky Wildcats’ 1978 Championship Season, Doug Brunk provides the backstory of how this refreshing concoction was created.

Lexington dentist Roy Holsclaw said that during a late-January postgame radio interview show, Coach Hall lamented how year after year his teams fell into a shooting slump and struggled to maintain stamina and sharpness by the time late January and February rolled around. A local physician who listened to the radio show that night wrote a letter to Coach Hall, suggesting that the symptoms he described indicated possible depletion of potassium, a key electrolyte that impacts energy and stamina. “He wrote, ‘I would suggest that you put your players on a high-potassium diet,’” Dr. Holsclaw recalled. “Coach Hall handed me the letter and said, ‘Roy, why don’t you check into this.’”

Chemical examination of blood drawn from the players revealed that some did have low potassium levels, so Dr. Holsclaw conferred with the physician, who recommended adding potassium-rich pineapples, bananas, and strawberries to their diet. Coincidentally, Dr. Holsclaw’s wife, Katharine, had a frozen-dessert recipe handed down from her mother that contained all of those fruits in their natural juices, so the couple mixed up the recipe in a three-gallon Tupperware container and stuck it in their freezer at home. Dr. Holsclaw brought in the frozen treat prior to many practices and all remaining home games that season, intended for the players to consume afterward. “I would turn it over to one of the managers,” he said. “They’d set it on a counter or something, and during the two hour course of the practice or game it would thaw out partially, and we’d serve it in a little plastic cup.” The concoction became known as Wildcat Slush. “It seemed to give us a boost,” Coach Parsons said.

Learn how to make your own Wildcat Slush below, and if you’re in need of the perfect book to read between tournament games, be sure to pick up Forty Minutes to Glory by Doug Brunk, available now!
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A Look Back On The Wildcat’s Championships

Kentucky has won a lot of Championships. A lot; 8 total. And I know that it’s hard not to sound like someone is bragging when they say that, but it really is amazing that a school – any school – has achieved that (and UK doesn’t even have the most! It’s UCLA, with 10). And, I mean, it happened; there’s no denying it. And now, they are, once again, in the running for another title, and possibly a perfect season to boot. Now, anything can happen in the tournament, and this no way claiming that Kentucky will go all the way, but, let’s take a little retrospective on UK’s titles anyway, and, hopefully, provide some fun factoids you may never have known.

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1921 Champions

While this may not count as an NCAA title, since it didn’t even exist back then, I’m still going to include it. Back in 1921 George Buccheit and his “Wonder Team,” who I talked about in the previous blog post, went on to win the first ever Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament against the Georgia Bulldogs. The team comprised of all Kentucky natives and was led by Basil Hayden, UK’s first All American. He also returned to coach UK in 1926, but had a dismal 3 – 13 record.1921_UK_bball_team

 

 

1948 – 1949 Back to Back Champions

Kentucky’s first championship was also the second time, ever, that a college team had won both the NCAA and NIT title. They played against the Baylor Bears, defeating them 77 – 59. And while the game was not as dramatic as others, the team went on to play in the Olympics, afterwards, in London, winning gold – the first college team ever to do so. The next year, most of The Fabulous Five returned, winning one more game than the previous year, and went on to win another championship against Oklahoma A&M, defeating them 46 – 36.

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1951 Champions

With a championship omission in the 1950 season, Kentucky came roaring back to defeat Kansas State 68 – 58 in 1951 to claim the title. Victory was not celebrated for long however. Scandal rocked the school; Kentucky players, Alex Groza, Ralph Beard, and Dale Barnstable were accused of taking bribes to shave points in the 1948-1949 season against Loyola. As a result, Kentucky cancelled the 1952 – 1953 season. champs1951

The Undefeated in 1954

I’m also just including this one just because it’s interesting. In 1954, Kentucky went undefeated in the regular season; they had a perfect 25 – 0 and were also ranked the number one team overall. But Rupp, following a decision that excluded some of his star players from participating in the tournament, in protest, backed out of the tournament.1953-54

1958 Champions

Both UK’s and Rupp’s fourth title, this season showed the Cats play against Seattle in Louisville. This team, also known as the “Fiddlin’ Five,” who was also mentioned the previous blog post, dropped as low as thirteen in the overall rankings. But, despite their “fiddlin’” they still brought home the championship, defeating Seattle 84 – 72.champs1958

1978 Champions

Kentucky’s next championship would not be for another twenty years. The pressure mounted each year UK did not win a title, so by 1978, they were known for almost never breaking composure during their games. Hence, this season was known as the “Season Without Celebration.” Their dedication paid off however, as they won 30 out of 32 games and went on to defeat Duke 94 – 88.champs1978

1996 Champions

It would almost be another twenty years though before Kentucky won their sixth championship. Pitino, in ‘96’, however, coached “The Untouchables” to the Finals. They defeated Syracuse 76- 67, and almost went on to win the championship two years in a row, but, lost to Arizona, one of the two games “The Untouchables” lost, in ’97, partially due to Derek Anderson tearing his ACL.champs1996

1998 Champions

After Pitino, Tubby Smith came to Rupp arena and took the Cats to the finals in his very first season with the Cats. This team played “Tubbyball,” a defense oriented, slow tempo type of playing, This caused them to never truly dominate the court, as Kentucky fans usually prefer, but always come from behind and pull off amazing comebacks, such as the Duke and Stanford games during the season.champs1998

2012 Champions

And then the Wildcats didn’t make to the Final Four again until 2011. They lost to UConn however, that season, but bounced back the next year, only losing two games, and wound up defeating Kansas 67- 59 in New Orleans, earning their eight national championship. The team lost six players to the NBA after this season, leading Calipari to recruit, arguably, one of the best recruiting classes of all time.UK men's basketball photo day 2011-12, John Calipari, UK Basketball, UK men's basketball team photo

 

Check out some of our other books on Kentucky Basketball, as well as some other sports, here.

The Cat’s Pet Names

Kentucky has had a lot of great Basketball teams throughout the years, and, as a result a lot of these teams have garnered nicknames. For whatever reason, whether it be for memory’s sake or just for the fun of it, any memorable whoever or whatever in sports has to have a nickname to go by. Nicknaming is an essential part of sport’s culture and in honor of March Madness – and being in Kentucky – here are some of the pet names the Cats have been called over the years.

 

The Wonder Team (1919 – 1925)

Back in the early days of Kentucky Basketball, all the way back in 1919, there was Coach George Buchheit’s “Wonder Team.” Bringing with him the “Illinois System,” Buchheit led the Wonder Team to the first ever, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament victory, in 1921, defeating the Georgia Bulldogs in what is considered the first major success of UK Basketball. However, the team was not able to match the success of this season with their remaining time at UK. One player injured his knee and another one succumbed to diphtheria at the end of the season.1921_UK_bball_team

The Mauerman (1927 – 1928)

Coach John Mauer never won any Southern Conference titles during his time at UK, but his “Mauermen,” total, went 40-14 by the time he left. They were known for being team oriented and, in general, being a very well rounded team, laying the foundation for what the program was destined to become.

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The Fabulous Five (1947 – 1948)

Here is the team that is responsible for Kentucky’s first ever title. Led by Adolph Rupp, the “Fab Five” defeated the Baylor Bears 77 to 59, claiming their spot as champions. However, it is not just that they won UK’s very first title that they are referred to as The Fabulous Five, even though that is certainly a key factor. After the championship, the starting five went on to play in the Olympics, defeating every opposing team in London. This makes Kentucky the only team ever to win an NCAA title and an Olympic gold medal.champs1948

The Fiddlin’ Five (1957-1958)

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are the Fiddlin’ Five, the team that had the most losses during a season, albeit still winning a championship. Rupp referred to them as this, mainly, just because he didn’t think they were a good team. They lost 6 games during the season, but still went on to win the championship against Seattle in Freedom Hall.1957-58
The Unforgettables (1991 – 1992)

Obviously I have to start this blurb off with saying: you can’t forget the Unforgettables. This team, made up of mostly local players, played one of the most memorable games in college basketball history, against Duke in 1992. But, despite the loss, their legacy lives on at UK; their jerseys were almost instantly retired after the game.uk-basketball-live-kentucky-1991-92-roster-new

The 8th Wonders (2011 – 2012)

While the Unforgettables might have played one of the most memorable games in NCAA history, the 8th Wonders had, arguably, one of the most iconic players on its team. Yes, it’s Anthony Davis, the man who has trademarked phrases about his unibrow. While no one will forget “The Brow,” Davis is not the only distinctive feature about this team. This team was also the first to have two of its players taken as the first and second draft picks in the NBA. They also had the six players chosen in a single two-round draft, the most ever taken.11-12

 

To learn more about University of Kentucky Men’s basketball, check out our extensive collection of books on the subject here

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Wah Wah Jones (1926 – 2014)

Wah Wah JonesWallace “Wah Wah” Jones, the last surviving member of the University of Kentucky “Fabulous Five” basketball team, died this past weekend at the age of 88.

The UK legend, and only athlete in the school’s history to have had his jersey retired in both basketball and football, played under both coaches Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant while in school. Besides winning an NCAA basketball championship in 1948 and 1949, Jones also won a gold medal in basketball for the U.S. at the 1948 London Olympics.

In tribute to this unforgettable player, we’re sharing an excerpt from the forthcoming book, Wildcat Memories by Doug Brunk; Wah Wah’s chapter may be the last interview he ever gave. Already cemented in the storied history of UK athletics, the Harlan native shared his remembrances and passion for his teams.

from Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories of Kentucky Basketball Greats by Doug Brunk:

I had dreamed about playing basketball at the University of Kentucky for many, many years. When I was growing up in Harlan in the 1940s, our family didn’t have a television set. We had a radio, but the reception on that was not reliable. Sometimes we’d get reception in the attic of our house, but often we’d pile in the car and drive into the nearby mountains to listen to UK basketball games on the car radio.

I was lucky to have been part of a winning basketball program at Harlan High School. Our team went to the state tournament four years in a row (1942 to 1945), and in 1944 our team won the state championship title. At the end of my high school career I had scored 2,398 points, which at the time was the highest total by a single high school player in the United States.

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