Tag Archives: NCAA Tournament

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!

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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