Tag Archives: bbn

Kentucky Basketball Legends: Still Making Their Mark

Members of the 1998 Kentucky Men’s Basketball Championship team will sign Maker’s Mark annual commemorative bottles at the Keeneland Entertainment Center this Friday, April 13, at 7 a.m. Among those signing at the event will be forward guard Allen Edwards, guard Jeff Sheppard, and former UK head coach Tubby Smith, all of whom are featured in Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories from Kentucky Basketball Greats. In this book, author Doug Brunk details the cherished bond between Kentucky basketball and the citizens of the Commonwealth through first-hand accounts from some of the Wildcats’ most renowned legends.

Tickets for the Maker’s Mark signing are already sold out, but you still have a chance to get up close and personal with these champions by way of this engrossing book. Below is an excerpt of Coach Tubby Smith’s chapter from Wildcat Memories:


As a coach, you love the fans, and you want their support. Having an affinity for the fan base is essential. You are providing a service coaching their team. You are trying to win, and you are trying to do the right things for your players, your coaches, the university, and the fans. Fans may boo you or cheer you. They call and they write with praise and criticism. But you can’t let that affect you, or you’re not going to last long in coaching or be successful in coaching. I became a college coach for the student-athletes, to get them educated and to teach them the game of basketball.

26Smith

During his ten-year tenure, Tubby Smith guided UK to one national championship, five SEC Tournament titles, and six Sweet Sixteen finishes. (Courtesy of Victoria Graff.)

During my tenure at UK there was an element of the fan base that didn’t think our teams had won enough games, but in five of my ten years as coach we probably played the toughest schedule in the history of UK basketball. I wish we could have won more games while I was head coach. But we were competitive, we graduated our players, and we kept the program clean. If there was pressure, it was pressure to make sure we did things in a first-class manner. 

One thing I appreciate about UK fans is that they know how to be grateful, because the program has been so successful , and the fans are proud of that success. They show their pride, and they should. They show their commitment by calling in to talk shows, writing letters, and flocking to Rupp Arena or wherever the team plays. You’re not going to find more loyal, passionate fans for their team than followers of the Wildcats. That’s the one common thing. Just about everybody in Kentucky is pulling for you to be successful. It’s a way of life in the Commonwealth. 

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Wildcat ‘Memories’ and ‘Voice’ from the Past

Wildcat memoriesSince the tenure of Coach Adolph Rupp, the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team has been a virtual powerhouse, repeatedly dominating the Southeastern Conference and garnering eight national titles. UK basketball is a homegrown tradition for sports enthusiasts, fostering a community that thrives on the camaraderie of fandom and devotedly cheers for its players in both victory and defeat. The individuals who have coached, played for, and inspired the Wildcats are important figures in Kentucky history and continue to motivate future athletes and passionate fans.

Wildcat Memories illuminates the intimate connection between the UK basketball program and the commonwealth. Author Doug Brunk brings together some of the program’s greatest coaches, players, and personalities to reflect on Kentuckians who provided inspiration, guidance, and moral support during their tenure as Wildcats. Featuring personal essays and behind-the-scenes stories from Kentucky legends Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, Dan Issel, Joe B. Hall, Kyle Macy, and Tubby Smith, as well as newcomers Patrick Patterson, Darius Miller, and John Wall, this heartfelt collection shares an inside look at what makes UK basketball extraordinary.

More than a book of inspiring stories, Wildcat Memories is a fun romp through UK basketball history. In candid firsthand accounts, the players and coaches discuss their incredible Kentucky support systems and offer a glimpse into the rarely seen personal side of life as a Wildcat.

Voice of the wildcats

As one of the first voices of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program, Claude Sullivan (1924–1967) became a nationally known sportscasting pioneer. His career followed Kentucky’s rise to prominence as he announced the first four NCAA championship titles under Coach Adolph Rupp and covered scrimmages during the canceled 1952–1953 season following the NCAA sanctions scandal. Sullivan also revolutionized the coverage of the UK football program with the introduction of a coach’s show with Bear Bryant—a national first that gained significant attention and later became a staple at other institutions. Sullivan’s reputation in Kentucky eventually propelled him to Cincinnati, where he became the voice of the Reds, and even to the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome.

In Voice of the Wildcats: Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting, Claude’s son Alan, along with Joe Cox, offers an engaging and heartfelt look at the sportscaster’s life and the context in which he built his career. The 1940s witnessed a tremendous growth in sportscasting across the country, and Sullivan, a seventeen year old from Winchester, Kentucky, entered the field when it was still a novel occupation that was paving new roads for broadcast reporting. During the height of his career, Sullivan was named Kentucky’s Outstanding Broadcaster by the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters for eight consecutive years. His success was tragically cut short when he passed away from throat cancer at forty-two.

Featuring dozens of interviews and correspondence with sports legends, including Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, Babe Parilli, Cliff Hagan, Ralph Hacker, Jim Host, Billy Reed, Adolph Rupp, and Cawood Ledford, this engaging biography showcases the life and work of a beloved broadcast talent and documents the rise of sports radio during the twentieth century.

Hear exclusive audio clips, view featured photos, and learn more about Claude Sullivan at www.VoiceoftheWildcatsBook.com.

Cats Facts: Darius Miller

Senior Darius Miller, shooting in one of his record 152 games for UK

Senior Darius Miller, shooting in one of his record 152 games for UK

It’s no joke that the Commonwealth of Kentucky takes basketball seriously. As crazy as the support for the game is in the state, it might be surprising to hear that only one Kentuckian has had much success at the University of Kentucky in the modern game. Who is he? Darius Miller.

Winning Kentucky Mr. Basketball in high school and going on to win the Kentucky boys’ state high school championship, Miller came into UK with incredible support from local fans. He went on to be an integral part of the 2012 National Championship winning team and to this day holds the record for most games played in a UK jersey–152.

We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from Doug Brunk’s Wildcat Memories written by Darius Miller about his experience at UK:

The Big Blue Nation fan base really impacted me. In my opinion they’re some of the best fans in the world. They do a great job supporting the team with events like the Big Blue Madness campout every fall. Me being a hometown kid, they showed me a lot of support throughout my four years, but especially during my freshman year, when our team was struggling a bit. Every tournament game we played in a neutral setting felt like home court advantage because of how many UK fans would show up. Even some of our away games felt like home games because there were so many Kentucky fans there.

Coach Cal’s first year at UK was a completely different situation than the one I was in my freshman year. We had a really successful team that year. I learned a new system and it was a lot of fun. Of course, winning the 2012 National Championship in New Orleans my senior year was a blessing. We had put in a lot of hard work up to that point, but to finally achieve our goal was amazing. The chemistry on our championship team was unique. Nobody cared who got the credit. It was all about us winning and having fun. That’s what we did. We were just out there trying to have fun and the enjoy moments that we have. It was good for all of us. No one had a huge ego.

In May of 2012 our team was invited to the White House to be congratulated for our championship win by President Barack Obama. I presented him with a No. 1 UK jersey. It was an incredible experience to walk in to the White House and to visit the President. I was honored to be a part of it all and I’ll never forget.

Doug Brunk’s Wildcat Memories can be purchased at your local bookseller or online from the University Press of Kentucky.

Cats Facts: Joe B Hall

Joe B Hall, UK Basketball Alumni (1948-1949) and Head Coach (1973-1985)

Joe B Hall, UK Basketball Alumni (1948-1949) and Head Coach (1973-1985)

It’s official! Big Blue Madness has begun in earnest! Here in Lexington, Cats fans have started camping out for free tickets to watch the UK Men’s Basketball Team’s first open practice in the next few weeks. The tradition is unreal, spurred on year after year by a, as Coach Cal would say, “crazy” fan-base, but where did it all begin?

It all started in the 1982-1983 season with Joe B Hall at the helm and greats like Melvin Turpin, Jim Master, and Derrick Hord on the court. The team would go on to win the SEC, but ultimately fell to Louisville in the Elite Eight  in the meeting between rivals since 1959.

Check out this extended quote about the UK fanbase from Joe B Hall, published in Wildcat Memories:

I gained a good understanding of the UK fan base when I was Coach Rupp’s assistant. As I recruited all over the state and as I traveled for various speaking engagements, the buzz was all about UK basketball. Of course, the University of Louisville Cardinals had a big following but mostly it was confined to Jefferson County and not too much in other parts of the state. Each smaller state school had its own following, but their fans also followed UK. The early success of Coach Rupp and his four NCAA National Championship wins that spanned over two decades really built the tradition at UK.

When he retired, Coach Rupp said that he left a program that was built on a solid foundation, one that would carry itself for years to come. He was right. The fan support in this state is unequaled anywhere. I say that knowing the following that Duke University, the University of North Carolina, UCLA, and the University of Notre Dame have. They have other pretenders in their back door that Kentucky doesn’t have. Kentucky is the Commonwealth’s team, and the support goes border to border.

The fan devotion of Big Blue Nation was a stimulus to my hard work. I knew what was expected from the fans and knew that if I didn’t do my job, I wasn’t going to be here for very long. I recruited hard and did what I had to do to coach up my teams. I was very serious about what it meant to so many people. I tried not to let those fans down. The pressure was there, but there was also opportunity. When you have tradition like UK’s you don’t have any trouble talking to a recruit.

Five coaches – Coach Rupp, me, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, and John Calipari – have won national championships in this atmosphere. There is no other college or university that has more than three coaches who have won national championships for their institution. What does that tell you? It tells you a lot about tradition. It tells you about fans and expectations that stimulate the administration to give you the support to hire the right people who can win.

The fan devotion is incredible, from people who go to all kinds of extremes to come to games to people who line out outside of the arena days before a scrimmage to get tickets. When your players witness that kind of interest, they become serious and focused. When they know it’s so important to so many people they start grasping what their responsibility is. You don’t have to tell them. They can feel it. When you put demands on them in terms of preseason conditioning, hitting the weight room, and giving them instructions, they’re ready to listen to you. They take coaching seriously and they know the importance of what they’re doing. That’s a great tool for a coach to have. Expectation of the fans is an enormous stimulus to their focus.

UK fans place their head basketball coach on a pedestal because that person is the leader of what they love so much. It’s a rock star effect for the players and everybody associated with the program. In my case, I never dreamed of having an opportunity to play basketball at UK, let alone becoming the head coach. Growing up, I had so much respect for the players and what they accomplished; I never even pictured myself in that role. When I did earn a basketball scholarship and walked out on to the court to represent the university, I was still in awe.

When I became the head coach, it wasn’t a dream come true, because I had never dreamed that the opportunity would present itself to me. I always held the head coaching job at UK in such high regard because I had so much respect for Coach Rupp. Even to be criticized in comparison to him was an honor. I never tried to remove his shadow from the program. I didn’t try to fill his shoes. I just tried to do the best I could. I didn’t expect anything more. It was a humbling experience for me to have the honor of being associated with the program that I loved for so long.

I’m the only native Kentuckian to ever coach at UK, at least since the tenure of Coach Rupp, who was from Kansas. I’m a native son who had the opportunity to do something that I dearly believed in and loved.

Wildcat Memories is available for purchase at your favorite bookseller or online from the University Press of Kentucky,

UK Basketball and Their Historic Undefeated Season

The University of Kentucky basketball team made history last night with a 66-48 win over the Tennessee Volunteers. With a win streak of 26-0, the UK men’s basketball team has broken the record for the longest number of consecutive wins at the University of Kentucky. The only other time a Kentucky basketball team has gone undefeated for 25 games was in 1953 under Coach Adolph Rupp, who Rupp Arena is consequently named after. Does this mean Coach Calipari will get an arena named after him? We can only hope.

This historic win has people wondering what the secret is to the success and continued undefeated season of the UK basketball team. Is it the coach, is it the talent of the players, or is it perhaps the ability of the players to communicate effectively and share the ball with each other? Maybe it’s a combination of all three. Whatever the reason for the success, Coal Cal is probably extremely euphoric at the upward trajectory his team is heading.

After the game, Coal Cal stated, “I’ll probably mention it tomorrow, what they’ve done. At a school like Kentucky to hold records like they’re holding, incredible stuff now.” Coach Cal, the players, and the Big Blue Nation are celebrating yet another win and are eager to see how the rest of the season will play out and how the Wildcats will fare during the NCAA tournament in March.

During the postgame interview, Willie Cauley-Stein said, “When coach really says this is a wolfpack, this is a wolfpack. Everyday we’re trying to make each other better and that’s powerful.” That may be the answer to the success the UK men’s basketball team has seen this season, but being able to dunk the ball like this doesn’t hurt. 

To read more about the BBN, the UK men’s basketball team, the coaches, and its legendary history as one of the top collegiate basketball programs of all time, go to UPK’s website to check out these books below! They’re sure to be a great read!

    

  

Last Call: The Voices That Define Sportscasting

This past weekend, the Thoroughbred racing community bid Tom Durkin, the Voice of New York Horse Racing, adieu as he stepped into retirement following a 43 year career.

Durkin’s voice could have been heard calling more than 80,000 races including the Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown, and Breeders’ Cup races.

Announcers like Durkin are part of a long tradition that, in part, trace their origins back to the University of Kentucky where an earlier announcer pioneered much of what we recognize as modern sports broadcasting today.

In Voice of the Wildcats: Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting, Alan Sullivan, Claude Sullivan’s son, along with Joe Cox, give the behind-the-scenes account of the man whose voice embodied University of Kentucky Athletics from 1947 to 1967. The 1940s witnessed an explosion in sports broadcasting across the country, and when Sullivan, a seventeen-year-old from Winchester, Kentucky, took up the microphone, he became part of a rapidly changing field. Sullivan’s career developed as Kentucky began its rise to prominence and spanned the first four NCAA Basketball Championships under Coach Adolph Rupp. He also revolutionized the coverage of athletics by introducing a coach’s show with Kentucky football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. It was not only copied by other institutions but would also become an important innovation that paved the way for the modern televised sports entertainment industry.

While Sullivan never had the Thoroughbred racing bona fides of Durkin, he did call races including Tim Tam’s 1958 Bluegrass Stakes photo finish win.

That race call, along with 27 other archived audio files spanning Sullivan’s career announcing UK basketball and football games (plus a few with the Cincinnati Reds), can be found on the Voice of the Wildcats website. There, you can also read an excerpt from the book and look through photos documenting the work of the original Voice of the Wildcats, David Sullivan.

March Madness is coming!

We’re already gearing up for March Madness, and in a state that boasts two college basketball teams with National Championships in 2012 and 2013, it’s no wonder we know a thing or two about basketball literature. let’s see why the Big Blue Nation is one of the strongest fan bases in the country.

NCAA Men's Championship Game - Kansas v Kentucky

Jerry L. Walls and Gregory Bassham explore the art of America’s most popular team sport in their book Basketball and Philosophy: Thinking outside the Paint. It’s a must-read for any basketball lover.