Tag Archives: Kentucky Wildcats

Keep the March Madness Spirit Alive with These Great Reads!

If there’s one thing many Kentuckians have in common, it’s a love for college basketball. Especially during March, there’s nothing quite like the excitement of filling out your tournament bracket and watching it inevitably get busted, all while still hoping that the Kentucky Wildcats make it to the championship game.

But with the cancellation of regional and national tournaments this year, as well as requests from government officials to stay home as much as possible in light of the spread of COVID-19, many may be left wondering how to spend their extra time and how to cope with the fact that this March will look much different.

Here at the University Press of Kentucky, we’d like to encourage you to keep the March Madness spirit alive by picking up one (or even a few) of our great basketball reads below! Even though you can’t watch the Cats vie for the national title, you can learn more about your favorite coaches, teams, and figures in the history of Kentucky basketball and the NCAA at large. Purchase now at kentuckypress.com so you can become an expert in time for March Madness next year!


CHANGING THE GAME details the life of college sports marketing pioneer Jim Host, who brought unimaginable revenue to college sports and made March Madness into what we know it to be today! Among other things, Host and his team developed the NCAA Radio Network and introduced the NCAA Corporate Sponsor Program, which employed companies such as Gillette, Valvoline, Coca-Cola, and Pizza Hut to promote university athletic programs and the NCAA at large. CHANGING THE GAME explores Host’s achievements in sports radio, management, and broadcasting; his time in minor league baseball, real estate, and the insurance business; and his foray into Kentucky politics. This memoir also provides a behind-the-scenes look at the growth of big-time athletics and offers solutions for current challenges facing college sports.


Until I was nine or ten, everyone called me Joe or Joe Hall. Then one day, my grandmother, for reasons known only to her, pulled me aside, telling me my name was “too short and too plain.” She said, “Let’s add your middle initial to make it more interesting. From now on, you say your name is Joe B., not just Joe. It’s Joe B. Hall.”

In COACH HALL, former UK men’s basketball coach Joe B. Hall reveals never-before-heard stories about memorable players, coaches, and friends and expresses the joys and fulfillments of his rewarding life and career. Joe B. Hall is one of only three men to both play on an NCAA championship team (1949, Kentucky) and coach an NCAA championship team (1978, Kentucky), and the only one to do so for the same school. During his thirteen years as the head coach at UK, Joe B. Hall led the team to a grand total of 297 victories!


Known as the “Man in the Brown Suit” and “The Baron of the Bluegrass,” Adolph Rupp (1901–1977) is a towering figure in the history of college athletics. In ADOLPH RUPP AND THE RISE OF KENTUCKY BASKETBALL, historian James Duane Bolin goes beyond the wins and losses to present a full-length biography of Rupp based on more than 100 interviews as well as court transcripts, newspaper accounts, and other archival materials. Rupp’s teams won 4 NCAA championships (1948, 1949, 1951, and 1958), 1 NIT title in 1946, and 27 SEC regular season titles. Rupp’s influence on the game of college basketball and on his adopted home of Kentucky are both much broader than his impressive record on the court.


Joe B. Hall, Jack “Goose” Givens, Rick Robey, and Kyle Macy–these names occupy a place of honor in Rupp Arena, home of the “greatest tradition in the history of college basketball.” The team and coaches who led the University of Kentucky Wildcats to their 94–88 victory over the Duke Blue Devils in the 1978 national championship game are legendary. In FORTY MINUTES TO GLORY, Doug Brunk presents an inside account of this celebrated squad and their championship season from summer pick-up games to the net-cutting ceremony in St. Louis. Brunk interviewed every surviving player, coach, and student manager from the 1977–1978 team, and shares unbelievable tales and heart-wrenching moments,


In WILDCAT MEMORIES, author Doug Brunk brings together some of the greatest coaches, players, and personalities from the UK men’s basketball program 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, Tubby Smith, Patrick Patterson, Darius Miller, and John Wall, this heartfelt collection shares an inside look at what makes UK basketball extraordinary. 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.


Already read the books above? See below for more great basketball titles, and check them out here!

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.