Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Adolph Rupp

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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RUPP: Let's see if we're testing all right.

[Pause in recording]

RUPP: Of course, we lost to Notre Dame, but as I said earlier, the only way to learn anything about this game of basketball is to mix in with the big boys. We were playing here in the south, and many of the teams that we were playing, both in football and basketball were not the big names in the sport at that time. So, George Keogan finally got around to asking us to play, but we had to come to his place. I wanted to sign a two year contract with him, but no, he wouldn't listen to that. Well, we lost to him by 20-41 in 1936. So, he asked me if we wanted to play again, so I said, "Yes, we'll play again." And so in 1938 we lost to him 37--no, we played him in--the next year in '37 00:01:00and we lost 28-41. So, you see we gained eight points on him there. Now, the following year, in '38, we lost to him 37-41. So, we gained again. We gained nine points. The following year in '39, we lost to him 37-42. But we were coming along. We lost by one point there that time. We lost by five points, but then we lost by one point on our ground. So, in the next year, in 1940, we lost 47-52. Now, you see these games were getting close. He had some of the great teams in the nation at that time, along with Pittsburgh and New York University, 00:02:00and Kansas, and a lot of these other teams. Indiana, and Purdue, and some of these teams that were really making a big noise. There wasn't much noise in the South. There wasn't a great deal of noise in the Southwest, and there--the big noise, of course, in the East was Long Island University, and as I said, New York. Then, in 1941, we played in Louisville, and we lost by 47-48. I'll never forget that game as long as I live. Never will I forget that game as long as I live. The score on the scoreboard was 47-41. And, it--no, it was 47-47. And we, of course, had the ball, and we were working for that 00:03:00last shot. Naturally we were playing a cautious game. We thought it was tied, and so did Notre Dame. We, of course, went to the benches then, and rested for a few minutes to play in the overtime when they called both George Keogan, the Notre Dame Coach, and myself, to the scorer's table. And they notified us that there had been a mistake made in the score, and the score was actually 47-48. Now, I'll tell you, I didn't like that a bit. I never liked that a bit, because it altered the entire complexion of the game. Now, the first game that we played in Louisville, I'll never forget that either. We played that game, and as I said before, we had to haul all of our bleachers down 00:04:00there--(whispers) Did I mention that before? And we had to--we rented the armory there. Well, when we got there, it was a big place to play, and when we got there, we found they didn't have any baskets. Well, we scoured around and scoured around. We found that Male High School had two portable baskets, so we moved those two portable baskets in. Then we tried to figure out just exactly where we were going to place the baskets. Then after we placed the baskets, we had to mark off the basketball floor, only to find out that the armory would not permit any markings on the armory floor. That was for military purposes. They would not tolerate a basketball court to be marked off on the floor. In fact, there were no markings at all. Well how in the world are you going to play a basketball game if you don't have the markings there? So we finally agreed to get this heavy carpenter's chalk, and 00:05:00we went out there and we made the lines, and got the lines down, so you can imagine what happened to those lines by the time the ballgame was over. Then we didn't have any bleachers. We couldn't seat anybody, we couldn't find any bleachers over there. So we came over here to Lexington and we brought the football bleachers over there. I think we seated about six thousand including those folks we could get into the balcony. And oh, it was a mess. No one ushered, no one did anything, it was a complete flop from beginning to end. The people stood around, and we brought the teams out on the floor, we warmed them up, and then we took them back in the dressing room, we came back out, and it was about fifteen minutes after eight then. We were hoping the people would get settled in the chairs somewhere. They couldn't find their 00:06:00seats, they had no ushers, they didn't have the seats marked. Oh, it was a pathetic exhibition. And, so we finally--George Keogan came over, said, "Let's start the game." I says, "George, we can't start the game." I said, "There's at least a thousand people out there on the floor." He says, "I don't care how many people are out there on the floor. Let's get the game started and get her going." I says, "George," I said, "I'm standing back here in the fifth row, there are four rows of people ahead of me--" "Well," he said, "there aren't over there where I am." He says, "Get out here in front, let's get the official, let's get her going and play." And the people finally find their seats. Well, I'll tell you, it was a mess. But, the only way we could get those markings on the floor was to allow where we had to put out six complimentary tickets for that. Then we got down to there were a lot of splinters on the floor, and the floor was sick 00:07:00as--slick as blazes. You just slipped everywhere. Well, Keogan was not going to put his team out on the floor under those conditions. So he and I went out there, we pulled off the splinters, and I tell you, that was something. Then he insisted on the floor being washed with gasoline. Well, I tell you, when you talk about a floor being washed with gasoline in an armory, a federal building, that's another thing. And, we couldn't get that done at all. Well, finally when we got the proper authorities in there, eight complimentary tickets solved that, and we got the floor washed. And, then we had to put the lines back down again. But I'll tell you one thing, that was a game to end all games. Then, they asked me to come to Louisville to see if something couldn't be arranged, because they thought that basketball had a future in Louisville. That was the birth of basketball, big time basketball 00:08:00in the South. And, they said that since they had these PWA, or WPA projects, I don't know what they called them at that time, that they thought they could get some federal money, and rebuild the inside of the armory in some fashion so that we could have a nice basketball arena to play in. So, they asked me to come over there and talk to Walter Wagner, an architect. I don't know if he is still living, although the Wagner architect firm is still in existence in a Brown building. It was there at the time. I made several trips over there at my own expense, and we designed the original arena the way it was before they altered it now, about five or six years ago. But, when we got the thing changed, then Keogan was mighty satisfied with the 00:09:00thing, and so in 1953 we played back there again, and we beat Keogan 60-55. That was the first time we beat him. But, he beat us six times before we finally caught on to the system of top flight basketball, the way it should be played. You remember we told you that we played New York University in 1933 for what was supposed to be the mythical championship of the United States at that time. A lot of the teams were afraid to play the University of Kentucky, because we were just a bunch of upstarts, and they didn't--they didn't want to get beat by an upstart crowd. And that's why it was hard and difficult to get on these schedules. But finally we got on the schedule, because they 00:10:00realized if they were going to allow us to get this publicity, they'd have to get on too. Now, in 1939, I believe, was the first beginning of the NCAA tournament. And then, of course, we started getting into these tournaments. Now, we played, and as I said, in 1943 we beat him. 60-43. And shortly thereafter I had a long distance telephone call from South Bend, Indiana, saying that Mr. Keogan had passed away. And, that by all means that I should come up there to beat the funeral. I did, I went up there, and I attended the funeral. And I was glad to be there, because Keogan taught me a lot of basketball. He 00:11:00taught me the rugged style of basketball that we've adopted as part of our ideas here at the University of Kentucky, and I'm sure our teams are much better, because of those early whippings that we have taken from Notre Dame. And now since that time, fortune has smiled on us much better, and I think now then we are way ahead of Notre Dame in the number of games that we have lost and we have won. Notre Dame has always been and always will be a worthy opponent in all sports. They have a well-balanced program, and when the world lost George Keogan, they lost one of the giants of the profession, because he passed away long, long before his time. He had many more useful years. Dynamic 00:12:00at all the meetings. He didn't hesitate to get up and say what he thought. That's the kind of men that we need. These fellows that just come to meetings and sit back, and then go into their rooms, and gripe about what happened, they don't help much. The men that make their contribution on the convention floor are the men that we know, and that we like. Now there's another giant in those days, and that was Ward L. "Piggy" Lambert of Purdue. I'll never forget "Piggy". "Piggy" was a fiery little fellow. When Purdue and Notre Dame played, they had great basketball teams. "Piggy" Lambert for years and years dominated the Big Ten. He had the powerful teams in the '20's, and in the early '30's. He dominated the fast style break of basketball, 00:13:00and made it into the most powerful running team that I have ever seen. He thought that basketball was a mental game. And when you played against him, it was a question of mental. Not necessarily physical. I remember one incident that (chuckle) I'll never forget as long as I live. I went back to scout New York University, and Purdue, because we were playing New York University some time later, about a week later than that as I recall. And, I went back, personally, I didn't have any assistance at that time. Oh, I did. I guess I had some part time assistance, but they were physical education instructors, and so I went back there to scout Notre Dame, and--I mean, Purdue and New 00:14:00York University in Madison Square Garden. And, as usual, they had a complete sell-out. "Piggy" Lambert always liked to get his teams in the dressing room before the game, and get the boys in the huddle, and then just scream and yell at them and pound them on the back, and just get them all fired up. He was more--most fiery little man I believe that I've ever--oh, we had a bunch of fiery fellows in those days. I'll tell you about some more of them before we get through. But here was a fiery little fellow that really really fired up his teams. He was in the dressing room, and fired up his team against New York University, and then attended to a little chore that the coaches liked to do before they come out on the floor, and of course, it's time for the game to start, so the officials threw up the ball, and the score 00:15:00was already 4-0 in favor of Purdue when "Piggy" Lambert came in through the door on his way to the bench to sit down. I'll never forget that as long as I live. He had his team ready to go. And, as I recall--I do not believe I am wrong, that it was a very, very close ballgame, and that Purdue finally beat them in the closing minutes by one or two points. Now, "Piggy" Lambert was a boy that believed that inflation would never come. He retired and thought he had enough money to live on, and I may be mistaken in this, but I believe I'm correct, he and Mrs. Lambert, of course, she liked to play golf, and I think they went to Florida, and I believe tried to live there about six months in the 00:16:00year. Now, "Piggy" felt that he had sufficient income. But then here came along this creeping inflation only to find that "Piggy" did not have the income that was necessary to lead the life that he and Mrs. Lambert were accustomed to. So he had to go back and co--and go to work again at Purdue. They accepted him, as they should have, because he made a great contribution to the school, and I believe he was in the physical education department. And then I believe he got to be a freshman coach and a scout for the varsity. I don't remember who was coaching basketball there at the time. But "Piggy" Lambert certainly could help that man, and I'm sure did help him a great deal because the 00:17:00Purdue teams have always been known for the very fine fast breaks they have had down to this very day. And "Piggy" Lambert was responsible for them. That takes us to another man, possibly not as fiery as these other two men, and that was Joe Lapchick. Joe Lapchick is--was an entirely different man than most of the men that we're accustomed to knowing in the basketball profession. I don't think I am mistaken, but I don't believe that "Piggy" Lam--I mean that Joe Lapchick ever went to college. As a youngster, he joined the Original Celtics. He was a very capable man, and I remember seeing his teams play. They 00:18:00played here at the university in the old gymnasium, and I saw the teams play many times in the South. We'd always run across them down in Birmingham, they seemed to make that their headquarters. There were about six of them, I think, on that Original Celtic crowd, and then as some of them, of course, got too old to play, or got other jobs, they filled in with other capable boys. Joe Lapchick, of course, was one of the youngest. He and Nat Holman, to go with this team. But, they just dominated the South. They made the South their headquarters almost the entire wintertime. And then they played against the Renezanas, which was a colored team. Those were always great games in those days, and whenever I ran across those folks down in the South, I always 00:19:00liked to sit down and talk with them, because I could learn an awful lot of basketball from them. Now, he got a job, finally, coaching St. John's. His teams featured ball control, they were very, very patient in what they did. They were very good defensively, and they were intelligent ball clubs. He had, I believe, the most winners in the NIT [National Invitational Tournament] tournament of any coach that ever played there. Of course, they were invited more times than anybody, if I'm not mistaken, although Western Kentucky, I understand, was invited ten or twelve times also, but they were never fortunate enough to win this. But Joe's teams, of course, in those days the New York teams seemed to have a decided edge when they played in New York. 00:20:00Now, I don't want that misinterpreted in any way that they gave them an edge on the officiating or anything else. But the crowd got back of the New York City teams there, and all the rest of them, of course, were foreigners and hicks that blew in there, and it was seldom that one of the outside teams had--was made the favorite. Now, he was a very inspirational coach. He turned out several very fine college coaches, he turned out some professional coaches, and his teams were always, as I said, intelligent. They knew what to do with the ball when they got it. And, they were a beautiful team to watch play. I've seen his teams play many, many times, and the--he, of course, 00:21:00was one of those fellows where some of the coaches have idiosyncrasy--I don't know if that's pronounced right or not, you'll correct it if it isn't--about basketball. His favorite was several dozen trips to the water cooler to get a drink during every ballgame. I don't know why that was, but he seemed to need a lot of liquid during a game. But he made St. John's into a great team, and as I said, won the NIT more, I think four times or five, than any other coach in the game. Now, it was our happy fortune to play him. We beat him in 1948 in the Garden 44-38, and then we lost 45-48 in the second game of the NIT that 00:22:00year. Then we beat him 73-59 in the Garden in 1946, and we beat him 70-50 in 1948 in the Garden. Now then, some folks have thought that, well, perhaps the Kentucky record early was made by playing a bunch of pushovers and teams that were not great ball clubs. But I don't believe that any team down through the years played any tougher teams than we did. As we go down and make a recollection of the coaches that we're talking about, let's keep in mind now, here we played St. John's four times, beat them three. We played Notre Dame many many times, lost six straight to them before we finally beat them, then swapped back and forth, back and forth, and then finally got a tremendous run 00:23:00on them and you've got to say those are all good ball clubs. Now, the thing that I liked about Joe Lapchick was because every time we get together at any meeting, if it were in the hall of fame, or if it'd be a National Association of Basketball Coaches. The same crowd, it was always the Original Celtic crowd that would get together, and they'd always invite Adolph Rupp to be with them wherever they'd go. And I appreciated that. I appreciated that more than I can say in words, because here was a bunch of fellows that were just foreign as far as I was concerned, but for some reason or another they just adopted me. I'll never forget that three years ago at the hall of fame meeting in New York, we all--in Springfield, Massachusetts. We all got together, 00:24:00and we just had a good time. There was--the entire New York delegation was there, including some of the Renezanas folks, and we had a great big huge table, and two evenings we got together and just sat there and just talked and talked and talked. And, of course, it was a tragedy when I heard several months later that Joe Lapchick passed on. And so this last year when I was back east, the same crowd got together, and I said, you know, there's something missing tonight. And the boys said, "We all know what it is. It's Joe." I said, "It certainly is. It's Joe." And, I'm sure that we all felt the same way. A great--made a great contribution to the game. Now, George Edwards of Missouri was 00:25:00a fine coach. He passed away just about a month ago. I'm making this statement on the twentieth of June 1972, it was two weeks ago to be exact. Now, he coached Missouri until 1946. Now, we did not have an opportunity to play him. But George was one of the early pioneers of the game. There were two men that you would have to classify as early pioneers of the basketball profession that really did not have a great opportunity to make an impact on the profession, but did make a great impact, in a way, in that they always were present at every meeting, and made the contribution that they could at these conventions, and at 00:26:00anything that pertained to basketball. Their records were never great. But, you don't have to be a great basketball coach, necessarily to have a great record. I don't necessarily think that's necessary. Now, George Edwards, I don't know just exactly what his record was. He was a fine gentleman. The other man that I have reference to, of course, is Chandler, Bill Chandler, who coached Marquette University for so many years. Both of these men were rather quiet men, and they worked hard in any assignment that they were ever given. They were older men, and of course I liked to get with these men and listen to what they had to say. Now, these are the pioneers I'm talking about. I'm 00:27:00talking about the men that were active in the profession early with me, and that were active before I got into the coaching of basketball. They were already established when I got into it. George Edwards coached the University of Missouri to some great seasons. Of course, at that time, he had "Phog" Allen sitting over there at Kansas, and "Phog", of course, was dominating the conference there for all these years. Now, there was another man that made a great contribution, and he's still living, and he's one of the fellows that sits down at every convention, at every hall of fame meeting with the old crowd, and that's Howard Cann of New York University. He graduated there, and he's been there all of his lifetime. He coached there, and he had some terrific ball clubs. He is now a member of the hall of fame. 00:28:00He was a member of the 1920 Olympic team. He led New York University to the national title in 1920, as its greatest All-American athlete. He coached at New York University for thirty-five years. His teams won four hundred and nine and lost two hundred and thirty-two. He was the coach of the year in 1947. He played in the all-collegiate finals in the AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] tournament in Atlanta. I'll never forget that game as long as I live. That was one of the earliest games that was ever played, and I think that game was won by "Doc" Carlson of Pittsburgh, who claims that the--he won the first NCAA tournament that was ever played. Well, of course, it isn't 00:29:00recorded that way at all in the books. But, "Doc" had had a way of always pushing around and getting people to kind of--not antagonistic, but in a humorous frame of mind to let them know that he was around when some of these things happened too. Well, "Doc" brought his team down there, and there were only two teams there, and they were there primarily to make a test of rules. And, I don't remember if it was an entire game, or if it was just a game to check on rules, or what it was. But anyway, I think the other team there was--I don't remember who it was, but here was a man now that played in the all-collegiate 00:30:00finals in the AAU tournament. That's not the NCAA. That's AAU in Atlanta. New York beat Rutgers in that tournament, and was hailed as the move that triggered a basketball boom throughout the South. Now, Howard Cann beat us 22-23 on January fifth, 1935 in the Garden on what you considered an unjustified foul shot. I certainly did. I'll never forget that game. As I've told you before, we had a great ballclub. I think we came back there undefeated, and then Irish decided to match New York University against the University of Kentucky, and the place was crowded to the rafters. The game, as I said, was 22-23, so that'll give you some idea of how close it was. And it was settled by a foul 00:31:00shot in--with six seconds to go, as I remember. That broke our string of twenty-four straight regular season victories. The night card also featured the City College of New York via St. John's, and at that time drew the largest crowd that ever attended a basketball game: 16,539. It ushered in the new era of basketball. LeRoy Edwards, 6'5", two hundred and fifteen pounds, was our center. We felt that--we had some idea there that in the South, that we were running an inside screen. I 00:32:00mentioned before that Kentucky is the originator of the inside screen, and we were running that. Now, we hadn't been called for that at any time during our entire career. And, we hadn't been called in that entire game for it. And, the--I remember that (chuckle) this is the beginning of--where we really got some publicity, and for the first time, I broke into the paper. We went to the Victoria Hotel where they had a big press conference, the first one I'd ever attended of any size, all those big smart New York writers were there, some of them were good and some of them were bad. All they wanted to do, was of course to glorify the New York teams, and of course, I suggested that 00:33:00we ought to have a tournament. A national tournament where we bring together all the teams from various sections of the country. Now, if that was the suggestion that was finally taken to bring about the NCAA or not, I don't know. But, we got a good press out of it, and I think that that may have been the idea that sold them on that. Now, New York University had a different style of play than we did. Our offense was entirely new to New York who used a quick cut from the basket on--well, it was a give and go play. I had some knowledge of that play, and I think everybody that understands basketball knows now what that meant. 00:34:00But we worked on that something, and we decided that we were going to use our style of play. We didn't think they could defense it, but I think they called us early one time for an inside screen. The thing that hurt us, Edwards drew three fouls, bang, bang, bang, just that quick. And, that, of course, put him down to where we had to kind of guard ourselves. Now, they had a man by the name of "King Kong" Klein. I'll never forget that guy. He was bigger than Edwards. I think he also played football. And they got under that basket and they just 00:35:00wrestled and wrestled and banged each other all over that place. And, so I just felt that we were getting the worst of it. And I told the officials at the half that we were getting absolutely the worst of that. Now, the inability of us to use a screen hurt us. And, every time that Edwards would get the ball and go back for the basket, they knocked him down. Now, when Edwards drove back there, of course, that was his mode of play. But I'll never forget the screen that they called on him. It was out on the floor, he fouled Sidney Gross, and so he fouled out on the play with ten seconds left. The shot hit the rim, 00:36:00it bounced straight in the air and it came down, teetered uncertainly, and then it toppled through. And that's how we got beat. And, I, of course, I didn't like it. Now, the newspapers will prove, and we've got clippings to prove that. The International News Service said at least 15,000 of the 16,539 fans agreed when I said that we were robbed. And that's exactly what I said. He said the UK team was a much better team, but some spotty officiating allowed New York to hamstring Edwards. And then, of course, they wanted to bring us back the next year. I agreed to come back. I was going to show them, by gosh, that we could play, and that we were a better team. Well, now then Edwards was drafted, of course, by the pros. That's the reason that I'm so bitter 00:37:00about some of these professional teams drafting these youngsters. Here was the first time that happened, and that was in September of '35 when Edwards was drafted and did not come back. And so we went back and played again, and we lost to New York in the Garden the next year by 28-41, and of course Ned Irish came to me afterward and he said, "Well, are you satisfied now with the officiating?" I said, "No, I'm not satisfied with it." I says, "I think you're still getting the best of the officiating." I said, "We cannot play. What we need is to get uniformity in the rules all over the United States." It took us about fifteen years to get that, and the rules today are still different. 00:38:00When you play in the East they're interpreted different than they are here. Here, they are interpreted different than they are in the Big Ten, which is just across the river, and when you go out west to Kansas, they're interpreted much different there. I remember last year when we went out to play Kansas and Kansas State, Gale Catlett, our assistant, who coached out there four years, told us, says, "You're not going to get by with some of that stuff when you get out there. Because when you get out there, they're going to call some of this stuff, and you can just get ready for it, they're not going to allow you to do this stuff." And now when you go out beyond that, and you go to the Pacific Coast conference, well just ask any of those teams that go out there and they'll tell you it's practically a no touch affair out there. When you play there, you better be careful what you do.

[Pause in recording]

RUPP: That'll take us now to another man that had a great influence on 00:39:00the style of ball that we played here at the University of Kentucky, and had a great profound influence on my life. He coached at the University of Missouri when I played at the University of Kansas. And, of course, Dr. Allen was always telling us about Dr. Walter Meanwell, and we were having trouble beating him. He was using the first screens that I ever saw in my life. Dr. Allen called them blocks. And, of course, we talk about blocks and screens. Well, a screen is a block that you put on, and a block is a screen that the opponents put on. Now, (chuckle) you can differentiate about that any way that you want 00:40:00to. But, the way we finally were able to beat Dr. Meanwell, we put in a zone defense, and it made it necessary for him then to change his entire offense, because the man to man defense is an offense that is subject to screening. And, when we came out with the zone defense- -and, I never have been able--I shouldn't say that. I don't remember just exactly what kind of a defense that was. I do remember I played in the back line, and I played on the left-hand side of the floor as you face the basket. That was my assignment. And, my job was to get the ball. Get the ball Adolph, get the ball. Get the ball, get the ball. Block them out, get the ball. I heard that a thousand times. 00:41:00I could wake up in my sleep and hear that. And then bring the ball down on the floor and get it to somebody. And, don't be too anxious to shoot, let somebody shoot that can. Dr. Allen, I think, had some very favorites that he wanted to shoot, and he had some that he just wasn't crazy to see shoot, and I happened to be one of them, although I believe I could shoot about as well as anybody they had. But I didn't care. It didn't make any difference, just so I got to play. Didn't make any difference who scored. Now, Dr. Meanwell was known also as the little doctor. He was, I believe, an MD, if I'm not mistaken. And, he was a fiery little fellow. Now, remember I have said this several times, there was George Keegan, there was "Piggy" Lambert, 00:42:00there was Dr. Allen, there was "Doc" Carlson at Pittsburgh, and here was Walter Meanwell. There were all these fiery fellows that really went after you, and I mean after you. They were after you. I remember Dr. Meanwell particularly above everyone else. He was born in England and never played basketball, yet he coached at Wisconsin twenty years, Missouri two years, and he won two hundred and ninety games. He, of course, in those days they didn't play nearly as many games as we play today. The thing I appreciated more than anything, I was just a little fledgling coach at the time when we used to meet in Chicago, and every time that Dr. Meanwell would see me, he'd say, "Coach, come over here and sit down with me, tell me all about it." Well, here I was to tell him all about it. I didn't know the first ABCs about 00:43:00basketball when it came talking to Dr. Meanwell. But, he'd always sit down. I remember he liked scotch and soda. And, of course, being an Englishman, he naturally would. And, I would drink, of course, the traditional bourbon and soda and not many of those, because I was born out in Kansas, and I think I was coaching in high school my third year, fourth year possibly, before I ever had a drink of bourbon, or anything else in my life. So I wasn't used to that stuff. But when you got to these conventions, you naturally had to sit around and share the time of day. I told you early that I learned my basketball by getting to know the men that were tops in their profession. And I made it a business to know everybody in the profession. I wanted to speak to 00:44:00everybody, I wanted to--I wanted to know these folks so that when they got up to speak, I knew who was speaking. And, when I would sit down with them, or they'd sit down with me, I had some common ground that we could talk about. And Dr. Meanwell and I, of course, knew each other well from the playing days in Missouri and Kansas, and then also I coached at Freeport, Illinois. And Pat Holmes, who coached football and basketball at Freeport before I did, went to Wisconsin as freshman football coach, and I used to go up there and watch Meanwell's team play in the old red pillbox, as they called it. It was just--oh, it 00:45:00was an awful place where they played. And, Pat used to get us tickets, and Meanwell had some terrific teams in those days. He controlled the ball, control 'em, control it, control it. And it didn't make any difference what the score was. I know one game against a very fine Big Ten team, he held this team to nine points. That'll give you some idea of how he controlled it, and how well he coached the team defensively. Now, he won two titles while he was at Missouri, and he won four Big Ten titles, and--

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RUPP: --teams in those days. He controlled the ball, control 'em, control it, control it. And it didn't make any difference what the score was. I know one game against a very fine Big Ten team, he 00:46:00held this team to nine points. That'll give you some idea of how he controlled it, and how well he coached the team defensively. Now, he won two titles while he was at Missouri, and he won four Big Ten titles, and he had four ties for the Big Ten while he coached at Wisconsin. He wrote a lot of articles on basketball. As I say, that is one sport where there's very little written about, even to this day, that's really worthwhile. And, Meanwell, I don't know if he ever wrote a book or not. I don't think that he did. But he always made a contribution. He--I kind of believe now he did write a book, but he didn't have a great deal in there that was of interest, and of course, 00:47:00none of it would be very good today, except of course his fundamentals. Now, he was a member of the Rules Committee, he was a charter member, of course, of the coaches association. In his style of play, you see, when they took out the non-dribble rule, that just ruined these coaches that liked to control the game of basketball. They just squawked their heads off. So, when Dr. Allen called a meeting with A. A. Schabinger for the coaches to get together and meet in Chicago to see if something couldn't be done about the elimination of that rule that prevented a team from dribbling the ball, imagine intercepting a ball and not being able to dribble it. Well, that was the most ridiculous thing. We experimented with that in spring practice in Freeport, Illinois, and it made a horrible game. I remember, I was so flattered, because 00:48:00the Associated Press, or someone called me. I don't know, it may have been just the local county press. I don't remember who it was. But, it hit the papers anyway, that they wanted to know what I thought about the rule. And, of course, I immediately expressed my opinion, which happened to be the way most of the coa--the way all the coaches, all of them felt about it at the time. So he was a charter member of the coaches association, and I do not believe that he was ever too active in the affairs of the association. He was not a president of the coaches association. And, finally was elevated to athletic director at the University of Wisconsin. Of course, Wisconsin has had trouble, the way many other schools have had, in getting its football team to 00:49:00get up close to the top. And, the mistake that Dr. Meanwell made was believing that he could be athletic director under a situation of that kind where basketball was the dominant sport, football was just a cellar-dweller in the Big Ten, and that he would be able to pull it out. So immediately when he couldn't pull out Wisconsin from the bottom of the cellar, the people and the alumni around Madison started squawking, "There's too much emphasis on football, get a new athletic director, do this, and do that." And, of course, Meanwell, of course, was relieved of his job as athletic director. Now, he was--he had a very intricate system of play at that time. It was--he used the crisscross style 00:50:00of play, and the--he crouched his players. His players stooped over and handed the ball off beautifully to each other. I think they made a lot of unnecessary passes, but they were always crisscrossing and handing this ball, waiting for an opening, but Meanwell had these plays so designed, they had to handle a ball this way and that way, and if they didn't, then of course--well, it just broke loose. I remember they built a little balcony up in the--this old gym of theirs in Madison where the other team sat on the floor downstairs, they built a balcony. Whether it was "Doc's" idea, or whose idea it was, they 00:51:00told the doctor he could see better if he was elevated, he could get a better pitch of the game. And I do believe maybe he had something to do with this thing. If I am not mistaken, and I don't think I am, he had them build a platform that was about fifteen feet high, and it was on rollers, and he had a seat up on top of this platform, and he had the student managers then push him around on the side of the floor so he could see the plays better. Well, I'm told by the coaches that you can see much better in scouting a team the higher you get. And they say here at Memorial Coliseum, if you can get a seat in the balcony right behind the north basket in the coliseum, you've got the 00:52:00best scouting seat in the house. But I'm sure if you would give that to a bunch of the scouts, they'd holler their head off and say, "Well, when you go to Kentucky they put you up in the balcony." Well, after all, that's the best place to see it. You can see them coming and you can see them going, you can see them spread their offense, you can see them concentrate their offense, something that you can't do when you're sitting flat on the floor, and you can't get the footage between the players as well as you can when you're up there. Well, they had a very critical game there one night, and we blew in there, and there wasn't a seat in the house. So, Dr. Meanwell invited us to sit upstairs in his little box up there. I think it had two rows of chairs, and I guess 00:53:00it seated about, oh, roughly, let me estimate sixteen people. "Doc" sat up in front, it had a railing, and if he substituted a player, he had to crawl down a ladder and then report and get in. And I remember he directed the play from up there, and you could hear him. "Doc" had a booming voice, and I tell you, he had a vocabulary that some of us have too that we control a little better at times than he did. But I remember one time he had a player there, I know this fellow very well, he was a fine, fine shot-putter, a fine football player, and a fine basketball player. He's a friend of mine. He played in a neighboring school, and I know all about him from high school days. And so he was 00:54:00playing basketball one time, and we were sitting with the basketball floor in front of us. The play, Wisconsin was going to the left, and he was at the extreme left side in the opposite corner. And "Doc" got up and stood up, and he said, "Sammy, you son of a bitch, stay out of the corner!" Well, everybody I think in the place heard him that night, because half the people laughed, and half of the awed, and that wasn't the only time that "Doc" got a little violent up there. But, sometimes I guess these modern days if a coach would get that violent, they'd- -oh, I guess as long as you win you can do that. But, it shocked me. I sat up there, but--and I asked one of the players afterward if that 00:55:00was typ--he said, "Oh," he says, "you ought to come to practice some day if you want to hear something." He says, "'Doc' really unloads on you." But here's another man now. These are the men that built the game of basketball. Now we'll go down to another man, Frank Keaney, and he's clear on the other side of the United States, and that's at Rhode Island State. Frank Keaney was a great big husky booming man that had a voice like a foghorn. Frank believed in the fast break. I remember he coached all-sports. He coached basketball for twenty-eight years; he was athletic director for thirty-six. He didn't believe in the slow break at all. He believed in the fast break. And he believed in throwing that ball and throwing it hard. And he believed in--that you had to have a--you had to score, I mean, they called his team 00:56:00a point a minute. Why, he'd have lost his mind if he'd only scored a point a minute. Because his idea of a game was about 100-85 or something like that. Now, he won while he was coaching four hundred and one games and lost a hundred and twenty-four. We played one time, and that was in the NIT when we beat him 46-45 in the final game of the 1946 NIT. Now, Keaney was--I invited him to come down here to be at one of our coaching schools one time. He spent about an hour and a half teaching Wallace Jones, and some of our guards, how to throw the ball in from out of bounds. How hard to throw it. He believed in 00:57:00getting that ball jumping out of bounds with a ball and throwing the ball at least half of the length of the floor, or two-thirds the length of the floor, as hard as you could possibly throw the ball. And, he had a funny idea. But the fast break? You've never seen a team fast break. Now, fast breaking teams. I remember "Piggy" Lambert's team. I remember the Iowa team that we spoke about. I remember the Keaney team that we spoke about. Fast breaking teams. Yes, Kentucky had a fast breaking team also. You'll always have to say that Kentucky had a good fast-breaking team. We certainly did. Now, Keaney had some funny--other funny ideas. I remember he made all of his boys go out for cross country and run ten miles in early pre-season conditioning. It didn't make any difference whether there was snow on the ground, or no snow on the ground. One year in late January he decided his 00:58:00team was getting stale. So, he says, "All right boys," that was after practice. He says, "Get yourself some sweat clothes, and let's take the cross-country course." There was about twelve inches of snow on the ground. Sure enough, here they all took off, ran the cross-country course to get in condition. He said after two nights of that, he said, "Boy," he said, "my team was in condition." Well, I'll tell you it's a psychological reason that got that team in condition, and nothing else. Because after you chase me around after practice over a cross-country course with twelve inches of snow on the ground, I'll tell you one thing, psychological or no psychological, I'd be in condition too. And don't you think I wouldn't. Now, there's another thing I'd like to talk to you about. He had an idea that there was entirely too 00:59:00much smoke in Madison Square Garden. They liked to see his team play in Madison Square Garden, and they liked this booming style of play. Frank had trouble winning there. I remember they--everybody used to see them play in there, and coaches would say to me during the coaches convention, "I'd like to get a chance to play him sometime, by gosh he wouldn't play--he wouldn't run with me like that." Well, I'll tell you. I think I may have been one of them that said that too. And I woke up that one morning and found out that I had Keaney in the finals of the NIT and then I wasn't too sure. I told my team that day, I says, "Now boys, we've got to hold Rhode Island State to forty-five points, which is just one half of their average. And I mean it. If 01:00:00you can't hold them at forty-five points," I said, "We're beat." Well, the boys thought that was quite an assignment, but we put some defense to them. We held them to forty-five points, but we only got forty-six. Well, now he had an idea that all this smoke, and I tell you, Madison Square Garden, after you played that--got into that second game, with all those guys sitting there smoking those cheap cigars, that place was filled with smoke, you could have smoked all the country hams in Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina combined in one hour. I tell you, that was the worst smoked up place you have ever seen. You talk about the air, you could hardly see from one end of the place to the other. That's a little exaggeration about--that last statement, but nevertheless, the smoke was awful, and he said, "I tell you, we're going to cure that." So old Frank Keaney again, pulling his 01:01:00psychology as he always did, got some of these burners. Now, you know what I'm talking about, they're these things that they have that they put these concrete things--they put coal or coke in them, and they issue these fumes and stuff, and smoke and everything comes out of that. So he got some of these burners, and put them in his gymnasium every afternoon, about two o'clock lit these things, and got all this smoke in the place. And a week before he'd go to play in Madison Square Garden, he smoked up his gymnasium until you could see it come out every window and crack in that place. And Frank just convinced the boys that that was getting ready for Madison Square Garden, convinced himself, he was sincere, he believed that. Oh, he was an interesting 01:02:00old man. I stopped to see him one time, and he was so delighted to see me. This was after he had retired, he was virtually blind at the time. He had the world's largest collection of spoon holders. Now, I don't imagine you young people know what a spoon holder is. Now, a spoon holder was a glass where everybody--it sat on each table and the spoons were in there, and you didn't put the spoons on the table the way you did today. Now, then he had, I think, if I am not mistaken, eight hundred and eighty or -ninety different kind of spoon holders that he had collected during his lifetime up until that time. I do believe that I am correct in saying that he gave Mrs. Rupp one of 01:03:00these, of which he had a duplicate, he gave her an extra spoon holder, because he could spare it, he had no use for it, although I guess he could have used it to swap for something else, probably someone else would have had another one that was a duplicate and he could have gotten it. But he had, at that time, the world's largest collection of spoon holders. So here you had a man that perfected the world's fastest fast break, a man that believed that even in January, as cold as it is up there in Rhode Island State, where it has twelve inches of snow on the ground, get the boys out late in January and run them over the cross country course, and get their legs in condition. That'll get them in condition. A man that believes that you can get some artificial smokers and put them in a gymnasium and smoke the place 01:04:00up for a week before you go to Madison Square Garden, that'll get the boys' eyes ready for the game when they play there. To the collector of one of the--to the world's largest collector of spoon holders in the United States, and you have Frank Keaney, one of the great pioneers of the game of basketball. I'm talking the pioneers now. I'm not talking about the modern coaches that we've got. I'm talking about the pioneers, the men that influenced the game of basketball.

[End of interview]