Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My 41st season

Adolph Rupp coached the UK Wildcats for 41 seasons, racking up a record of 876-190, for a winning percentage of .822, and four national championships.  I have followed the UK Wildcats for 40 seasons, from 1975 through 2014.  Over that stretch, the Cats have gone 997-304 (more games per season now), for a winning percentage of .766, and have won four more national championships.  In my life as a fan, there have been two UK coaches with a winning percentage of over 80 percent -- and I bet you can guess who they are.  There have been only two coaches with a winning percentage of under 70 percent -- and you can probably guess them, too.  Then there are these two guys:

Joe B. Hall (1975-85):  264-79 (.770) (I didn't count Hall's 1973 and 1974 seasons, because I didn't watch those teams)
Tubby Smith (1998-2007):  263-83 (.760)

That's awfully close.

Here's what the Cats have done over those 40 years in the NCAA Tournament:

23 trips to the Sweet 16
19 trips to the Elite 8
10 trips to the Final Four (1975, 78, 84, 93, 96, 97, 98, 2011, 12, 14)
7 trips to the Finals (1975, 78, 96, 97, 98, 2012, 14)
4 National Titles (1978, 1996, 1998, 2012)

My favorite victory over the 40 years is UK's win over Duke in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
My most disappointing defeat is UK's loss to LSU in the Elite Eight of the 1986 NCAA Tournament.
My favorite team that won a title is the 1996 team.
My favorite team that didn't win a title is the 1993 team.
My favorite win by Joe Hall was beating Indiana in 1975.
My favorite win by Rick Pitino was beating UMass in 1996.
My favorite win by John Calipari (so far) was beating UNC in 2011.
My favorite UK player in 40 years -- I'll identify him at the bottom of this report.  Make your own choice before you see mine.

OK, now let's start another 40 years.  Here's the new schedule (home games in all caps unless otherwise noted).  This year, Kentucky will play five teams that have won multiple national titles, none of which is the Indiana Hoosiers.  In the SEC, the Wildcats will play two games each against Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and South Carolina, and one game against everyone else.  They will not be going to Memorial Gym in Nashville, which should make Eric happy.  For the 41st year in a row, this looks like a very difficult schedule to me.  Those road games in February are going to be awful, and I hate ending with Florida:

11/14/14:  GRAND CANYON
11/16/14:  BUFFALO
11/18/14:  Kansas (Indianapolis)
11/21/14:  BOSTON UNIV.
11/23/14:  MONTANA ST.
11/25/14:  TEX-ARLINGTON
11/30/14:  PROVIDENCE
12/05/14:  TEXAS (SEC/Big XII Challenge)
12/07/14:  E. KENTUCKY
12/10/14:  COLUMBIA
12/13/14:  N. CAROLINA
12/20/14:  UCLA (Chicago)
12/27/14:  at Louisville
01/06/15:  MISSISSIPPI (conf.)
01/10/15:  at Texas A & M (conf.)
01/13/15:  MISSOURI (conf.)
01/17/15:  at Alabama (conf.)
01/20/15:  VANDERBILT (conf.)
01/24/15:  at S. Carolina (conf.)
01/29/15:  at Missouri (conf.)
01/31/15:  ALABAMA (conf.)
02/03/15:  GEORGIA (conf.)
02/07/15:  at Florida (conf.)
02/10/15:  at Louisiana St. (conf.)
02/14/15:  S. CAROLINA (conf.)
02/17/15:  at Tennessee (conf.)
02/21/15:  AUBURN (conf.)
02/25/15:  at Mississippi St. (conf.)
02/28/15:  ARKANSAS (conf.)
03/03/15:  at Georgia (conf.)
03/07/15:  FLORIDA (conf.)

The SEC basketball tournament will be held from March 11-15 in Nashville, Tenn.  I expect the fans from our end of the Commonwealth to represent.

My favorite UK player of the last 40 years is Anthony Davis, and it's not close.  Here is my all-time favorite UK team:

Guard: Kyle Macy
Guard:  Tony Delk
Center:  Anthony Davis
Forward:  Jamal Mashburn
Forward:  Antoine Walker

I want to give a special shout-out to Cawood Ledford, Ralph Hacker, and Tom Leach, whose radio broadcasts have given me more joy than I can express.  And to my mother, who helped get me started on this amazing hobby when she let me stay up late to watch the finals of the 1973 NCAA Tournament.

Good luck to all Kentucky fans, and let's hope we have a very good season.


  1. Good stuff. The UNC-UCLA-Louisville run around Christmas is just about as intense as I could imagine. I don't know how great any of those teams is supposed to be this year, but it doesn't matter--that's a gauntlet in my book. And you're right; I'm not going to miss Vandy's awful gym at all.

    I probably love Joe B. Hall and Darius Miller the most, and my first impulse is always to identify Goose Givens as the best UK player I've ever seen. But, yeah, Anthony Davis ... wow.

  2. Sewanee visited Memorial Gym last night for the first time since 1961 -- Vanderbilt beat the Tigers 67-38.

    Sewanee's all-time record against UK is 0-6, the last meeting between the Tigers and the Wildcats took place in 1934.

    UK is 1-0 against William & Mary. The Wildcats beat the Tribe 92-47 on December 22, 2004 -- a game I do not remember at all. On the other hand, UK lost to Kansas 65-59 on January 9, 2005, and I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when that game was played.