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A ‘Rupp’s Runt’ speaks





 

 

Larry Conley was a newsmaker again. Pardon the mix of sports clichés, but the popular (and my favorite) Rupp’s Runt hit for the cycle at a basketball game last week. v Single. Idea to re-unite players from the 1966 NCAA title game, Texas Western-UK at Maryland’s old Cole Field House, moved Conley to quip, “You better hurry up.”

Been 48 years. v Double. Doing commentary at the Kentucky-Transylvania exhibition, Conley opined that UK fans “sit on their hands because they analyze players the same ways we do.”

Conley’s logic is wonderfully old-school and fair for another place in time. Fans “sat on their hands” because they came with expectation to see precision, fast break elegance, crisp and clever passing, and shooting by kids, many of whom were native sons, who played for the name on the jersey front. Or, they didn’t play.

Fans expected basketball as ballet and appreciated ebb and flow more than dunk and show (off ), applauded good play by visitors, left game officials alone too, all the way to end-game tradition of students chanting for a bench player to be put into the game.

Today, Kentucky fans “sit on their hands” because they come to see what the next NBA lottery picks look like. Analysis, spoken or not, pivots on who the next bevy of recruits will be and who might be a sophomore next season. v Triple. Conley’s “you better hurry up” remark about a 1966 players reunion brought to mind this idea:

A proposed Texas Western-UK reunion at University of Maryland ignores opportunity. A gathering would be received with pomp and ceremony like no place else in America than El Paso, Texas and Lexington.

A players’ reunion on consecutive weekends. In El Paso, to celebrate the school’s only NCAA title, then another at Rupp Arena a weekend later with player introductions for all.

Media interest would be blitzkrieg. Delightful possibles: Double-up interviews – David Lattin/Pat Riley, Orsten Artis/Louie Dampier, Neville Shedd/Thad Jaracz, Willie Cager/Larry Conley, Harry Flourney/Cliff Berger.

About waiting until 2016, 50th anniversary? Why? v Home Run. In a grand scheme of things the proverbial “bunch of old guys getting together to talk about old times,” would light up a room, even a Bluegrass State. The Miners’ 28-1 season in 1966 and Kentucky’s 27-2 marked a grand year for college basketball.

Conversations among the players, gotten to fans through media would be golden.

For starters, this: “Never mind the movie Glory Road, what was the 1965-66 school year like you? … Did you get a degree? Best memories of college days? What career?

Yes, all things considered, Larry Conley’s “you better hurry up,” idea is, well, a home run.

BCS & Louisville

Latest BCS standings tell us these things. v Louisville (7-1) is arguably among the best 10 teams in the country, but having played zero ranked teams is ranked 20th. UofL athletics stands to lose substantial revenue in bowl game earnings. The Cardinals get another patsy this Friday, Connecticut (0-7). v Houston (7-1) comes to Papa John’s November 16 for game-of-the-year. At stake, how high on the food chain (bowl invitation) for both. v BCS rankings show Kentucky average losses to No. 1 Alabama, No. 12 South Carolina, and No. 20 Louisville at 36 points-plus. Intriguing element to this week’s visit by No. 8 Missouri (8-1) is Mark Stoops’ team is coming off a season best 48-point performance

News & Views

NEWS: Western Kentucky defeated Georgia State in Atlanta last week. First questions for coach Bob Petrino included “what’s it like to be back in Atlanta?” (Petrino coached the NFL Falcons).

VIEW. Petrino has recalibrated his tolerance for stupid questions. Five words could’ve triggered a firestorm. “Who cares about that now?” That it didn’t happen is to his credit.

NEWS. Coming tournament. UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio State will play a round robin, Ohio State coach Thad Matta confirmed last week. His Buckeyes will play one of the other three at a neutral site in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

VIEW. Here’s a neutral site idea: Ohio State-UCLA or North Carolina at Rupp Arena; UCLA or Ohio State against Kentucky at the Dean Dome at Chapel Hill.

Parting Shot

College basketball gets underway soon. But first, while you pay top dollar the big dogs must have their way with cream puffs.

In the run-up to season play, anyone else sick already of hearing about what Andrew Wiggins had for breakfast and lunch on his one-and-done way to becoming LeBron James?

And so it goes.


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