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Pat Riley able to attend Kron wake




 

 

Pat Riley, president and coach of the Miami Heat, couldn’t attend his initiation into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in Louisville or a reunion of Rupp’s Runts in Rupp Arena.

But he missed a Heat game in Utah to come to Louisville for the funeral of fellow Runt Tommy Kron. The other three Runts were there too: Larry Conley, Louie Dampier and Thad Jaracz.

Kron and Jaracz were Runts but not runts; each was 6-foot-5, which made them the tallest of the starters.

Conley lives in Atlanta, Dampier and Jaracz in Louisville.

As Tev Laudeman points out in his excellent book, The Rupp Years, Kron was born in Owensboro and moved to Indiana when he was about five. He is in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

With the recent passing of incomparable Ralph Beard, who joined Alex Groza and Cliff Barker in the gym up above, only Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones of Harlan and Kenny Rollins of Wickliffe are left of Kentucky’s Fabulous Five. Jones, 82, lives in Lexington. Rollins, 84, lives with his son Kevin in Greencastle, Ind. Rollins came for the Sunday visitation for Beard, Wah came for the funeral the next day. Phil Rollins, Kenny’s brother who was a U of L great, is recovering from a heart procedure.

Their coach, Adolph Rupp, promised Beard that there would be a Fabulous Five reunion in heaven.

Dick Vitale stopped screaming long enough during the telecast of the UK-North Carolina game to mention a comparison of Beard and Bob Cousy. To say that Ralph despised Cousy would be an understatement.

First of all, Beard made firstteam All-NBA; Cousy was on the second team.

The worst whipping Cousy ever got on the basketball floor was administered by Kenny Rollins, whose defensive prowess all but shut him down.

Legion among legions Hotshot basketball players come out of grade school, AAU and high school programs where they have been pampered beyond belief and constantly told how great they are. Then they get to college where – heavens! – they have to compete for playing time with players as good or better than they are. It’s a jolt that many of them can’t accept.

It’s good if they realize early that they are in the wrong place – and pick up and leave.

No school has lost more basketball players than the University of Kentucky. All-Americans have ridden the bench. When All- American Bob Brannum couldn’t beat out another All- American center, Alex Groza, Brannum transferred to Michigan State.

Rupp had six or seven All- Americans at one time when World War II veterans returned from service.

So it is never surprising when UK loses a player. Alex Legion is the latest of many to depart for what they consider greener pastures.

A super-duper class?

With another high school football season behind us – and many of the same teams year after year still in command – is it time for maybe a super-duper Class 7-A?

From Louisville, we could have St. Xavier, Trinity, Male and Manual. From Lexington we could have Dunbar, Henry Clay and Lafayette or Lexington Catholic. Two more could be Fort Thomas Highlands and Bowling Green.

Because of the number of boys at St. X and Trinity, I don’t know if the others ever could compete with the Louisville Catholic powers.

The new league could produce more college scholarships than we’ve ever had, and could be the best thing to happen to prep football since we started playoffs and resumed spring practice.

Even before Male lost out in the playoffs, there were rumors that its coach, Bobby Redman, either would retire or be at Ballard next season. People close to him insist that he won’t give it up until he reaches 300 victories.

Redman is the only public school coach who can complete with St. X and Trinity every two or three years, but I hear that he is increasingly having a harder time getting good players accepted at Male.

Sports-minded Draud Dr. Jon Draud probably will pay more attention to high school athletics than any other commissioner of education we’ve had. He was an excellent football and baseball player who went to Eastern Kentucky on scholarship. He coached Covington Holmes to the 1963 state baseball championship when two of his stars were Randy Marsh, now a Major League umpire, and Bobby Barton, who also was a basketball standout who played for the Kentucky All-Stars against Indiana when Guy Strong coached the Kentuckians.

Draud also is the proud father of Scott Draud, who was a member of the Kentucky All-Star team that Eddie Ford took to a Las Vegas tournament. Ford also had Rex Chapman on that team.

Scott Draud was among many top Northern Kentucky athletes who found the pastures greener at Fort Thomas Highlands. After coaching, he is now the principal at Newport Public High School. Scott, Marsh, the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Mike Fields and I were inducted into the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame the same night.

Dr. Draud claims the highest batting average in Eastern history, but I’d like to check the records – if there are any – to see if Hall of Famer Earle Combs didn’t have one higher.

Combs, a native of Pebworth in Owsley County, batted .326 during his career with the New York Yankee’s Murderers Row. The story (probably true) is that on most days he had to field his centerfield position in addition to Babe Ruth’s when the Babe was having a bad day after a big night.

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