Which Side Of The 1966 Texas Western-Kentucky Rematch Will The Media Focus On?

Posted by nvr1983 on October 24th, 2013

In the past few years, there has been a movement to use games to commemorate significant historic events. One example of this occurred last season when Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis arranged a game between Mississippi State and Loyola (IL) to honor the 1963 NCAA regional semifinal where the Bulldogs traveled beyond state lines in violation of a court order that forbade them from playing a team with African-Americans. While many such games remain in the memory of sports fans, few actually become landmark events that even a casual sports fan can identify. The 1966 National Championship game between Texas Western (now the University of Texas at El-Paso) and Kentucky is one such classic game. So when current UTEP coach Tim Floyd announced yesterday that the two schools hope to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original Brown vs. Board of Education game with a rematch, we were intrigued. The details are still in question, but it is believed that the game will take place in Maryland (the original game was played at Cole Field House in College Park) on Martin Luther King Day, in 2016.

Will The Focus Be On Texas Western Or The Rupp Narrative? (Credit: El Paso Times)

Will The Focus Be On Texas Western Or The Rupp Narrative? (Credit: El Paso Times)

For anyone unfamiliar with the story of this game (and didn’t see the 2006 movie chronicling the event, Glory Road), Texas Western, a relative upstart led by fiery young coach Don Haskins, started five African-American players in its lineup. Its opponent in the national championship game, Kentucky, was led by legendary four-time national champion head coach Adolph Rupp, who started five Caucasian players. Texas Western won the game, 72-65, and in so doing set in motion a slow but steady revolution involving race relations in the sport. Some 31 years later, the integration of the game had come so far that Kentucky hired an African-American, Tubby Smith, as its new head coach, and never thought twice about it. Smith, who won his own national title at Kentucky in 1998, is now in the same Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame as Rupp.

The reasons for why this game ultimately took on such significance are complex and numerous, but as anybody who has sat through a high school American history class is aware, the mid-1960s were the height of the activism and tensions of the civil rights era throughout much of the country. This was particularly so in relation to the integration of schools, for which athletics often served as public theater. Over time (and fairly or unfairly), two giants in college athletics — Kentucky’s Rupp and Alabama football head coach Bear Bryant — came to symbolize a tacit but legitimate resistance to athletic integration. Some of the criticism lobbed at both highly successful southern coaches was certainly earned, but to a large degree, it now serves as an easy literary crutch for journalists to discuss the era.

Still, should this event occur in three years, the 50th anniversary rematch between these two schools should serve as an interesting history lesson for those not familiar with the story behind it. We just hope that the lesson that they will take from what would no doubt be a nationally-televised blockbuster game will be a  positive one of inclusiveness and integration, one derived from the spirit of the Texas Western squad and the pioneers who paved the way for them rather than another negative historical narrative built around the misgivings of Rupp.

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ACC M5: 02.04.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 4th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Duke Basketball Report: This is a phenomenal article from Al Featherston, looking back at Duke winning number 1,000 nearly four decades ago. The article also includes two of the biggest ACC “What ifs?” ever:
    1. What if Lefty Driesell was given the Duke job?
    2. What if Adolph Rupp had taken over for Duke in the mid-1970′s?

    The first question is fascinating. Driesell built Maryland, but Duke already had a history of success (only five teams beat the Blue Devils to the 1,000 win mark). Could he have taken the Blue Devils to similar heights (and lows)? Just how different would Duke’s program be today if the (aptly described) “mercurial” Driesell ushered in the modern era instead of Coach K. Also, what would have happened to Mike Krzyzewski? Similar butterfly effects happen if Rupp takes over. The article also has historical anecdotes about the dominance of the Durham YMCA in the 1920′s. Seriously, give it a read.

  2. ESPN: Well, the inevitable has arrived. Despite not receiving bids from Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center in New York City, “because of the league’s changing membership,” those two arenas will still be in the running for the 2016-2021 ACC Tournaments. The move makes sense, but it has the potential to be a major flop too. The atmosphere at the ACC Tournament the past few years hasn’t been the same. The declining excitement is largely thanks to an increase in noncompetitive teams, the addition of Thursday and an expanding geographic footprint. Moving the tournament to New York could exacerbate the issues if the league continues to aim for a balanced allotment of tickets.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: The ACC is slowly rebuilding. Almost all programs appear to be moving in the right direction, though there are still plenty of questions surrounding almost all of the new coaches: Can Jim Larranaga and Steve Donahue recruit at the ACC level consistently? Can Brian Gregory and Brad Brownell break through to the next level? And can Jeff Bzdelik and Donahue pull their teams out of the cellar? The next couple of seasons are critical to the success of the ACC going forward because coaching stability is a huge factor in sustained success.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State took a gut-punch against Miami without junior guard Lorenzo Brown. The Wolfpack controlled for most of the game, but a late Miami run and some costly errors from CJ Leslie (missed foul shots, turnovers, and dumb fouls) gave the Hurricanes the chance to win. But two stories more important than Reggie Johnson‘s buzzer-beating tip are starting to show through the game. For one, Miami is a solid two games ahead of Duke in the loss column (everyone else has three or more losses). That’s a very, very good place to be going into the second half of conference play. Second, Tyler Lewis finally started showing why he was a McDonald’s All-American. Lewis ran NC State’s offense very well against the best defense in the ACC, and he didn’t look nearly as lost on defense. He still needs some work, but developing Lewis is crucial in the long run.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech was a different team Sunday than the one that got smacked in Charlottesville (to be fair the home-road splits are looking fairly dramatic for Virginia too). The Yellow Jackets looked like they might be due for a repeat of their last game with the Cavaliers as they went into the half down by nine. Brian Gregory said after the loss that his team needed to learn how to finish. Well, the second time around they did just that. Georgia Tech held Virginia to six points in the final 9:40 of the game. The Yellow Jackets were the first ACC team to drop 60 on Virginia. Good luck ranking the middle and bottom of the ACC this season. It’s a train-wreck, though it’s a train-wreck played at a higher level than last year.
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SEC Mount Rushmore

Posted by EMoyer on February 21st, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and Southern Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

In honor of President’s Day, RTC is putting together the Mount Rushmores of the six power conferences. For all the history in the SEC,  picking four who represent all of basketball proved difficult and will surely (hopefully) create good debate. So without any delay, here’s the Mount Rushmore of SEC basketball:

Adolph Rupp – Kentucky: Rupp, a fixture on the Mount Rushmore for all of college basketball easily earned one of the four coveted spots. Rupp learned under Phog Allen while playing at Kansas, then came to Kentucky and ultimately passed Allen before retiring as the winningest coach in college basketball history. His Wildcat teams won four NCAA titles (1948, 1949, 1951, and 1958) and 27 SEC titles in his 41 years on the bench. In 11 of those years, he posted undefeated seasons in SEC play. In SEC Tournament play, he posted a 57-6 record with 13 more titles. During the height of his reign, he made it nearly impossible for teams to win at Kentucky. Rupp authored the longest home court winning streak in Division I history, winning 129 straight from January 4, 1943, to January 8, 1955. As part of his legacy, his name adorns the  current Wildcat home court, Rupp Arena, the student section is named the eRUPPtion Zone, and one of the major national player of the year awards is the Adolph F. Rupp Trophy.

Pete Maravich – LSU: When your conference boasts the all-time leading scorer in Division I despite only getting to play three seasons due to an NCAA rule prohibiting freshmen from playing for the varsity team, you can guarantee another spot on Mount Rushmore. Combine his mythical status and ball-handling wizardry, the choice of Pete Maravich is almost as easy as Rupp. He still holds 15 NCAA records and owns the top scoring seasons for a sophomore, junior, and senior. On the LSU freshman team, he scored an additional 741 points and averaged 43.6 points per game. The Sporting News, AP, and UPI named Maravich a First-Team All-America in 1968, 1969, and 1970. In 1970, he claimed the Naismith Award and Player of the Year awards from The Sporting News and the USBWA. Like Rupp, Maravich’s name lives on as the Tigers play in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

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RTC’s Mount Rushmore – Top Four (And More) Most Significant People in College Basketball History

Posted by EJacoby on February 20th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. 

As we celebrate President’s Day on this Monday, it’s a good time to reflect back on the significant accomplishments of George Washington and the other great leaders of our country’s 236-year history. That got us to thinking: Who are the most significant people in the history of college basketball? The game is not quite as old as the United States of America, but there are many options to choose from in a sport that’s over 100 years old, from prodigious coaches to superstar players. In the end, we determined that no single player, in a maximum of four years of eligibility, has had as much impact on the sport as any of the four coaching legends that we selected. Head coaches are responsible for shaping the lives of hundreds of players during their tenure and thus have a greater opportunity to impact the game than anyone else. Here’s a look at the accomplishments of four of the all-time great coaches in college basketball history that compose our RTC Mount Rushmore (these are in no particular order):

Mike Krzyzewski – You may not be able to spell or pronounce his full last name, but ‘Coach K’ is one of the first names that comes to mind when discussing the greatest coaches in basketball history. Krzyzewski became the all-time winningest Division I men’s basketball coach when he recorded his 903rd victory to surpass his former coach at Army, Bobby Knight, earlier this season. Coach K has been at Duke since 1980 and has led the Blue Devils to four National Championships, 11 Final Fours, and 12 ACC regular season titles. He also coached the USA Olympic ‘Redeem Team’ in 2008 to a gold medal. Mike Krzyzewski was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, still remains the head coach of one of the top contenders in the country every year, and doesn’t appear to be calling it quits anytime soon.

Adolph Rupp - A man known for his obsession with winning, Adolph Rupp is perhaps the single most successful head coach in NCAA history, statistically speaking. Rupp is fifth on the all-time men’s coaching wins list (876 victories), and he did it with the second-best winning percentage of all time, at 82.2%. Rupp spent his entire 41-year coaching career at Kentucky, where he guided the Wildcats to six Final Fours and four National Championships. His tournament records could have been even more impressive if it wasn’t for his team’s two-year hiatus from the postseason in the 1952-53 and 1953-54 seasons. Rupp also led UK to 27 SEC regular season titles in 41 years and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame while still coaching in 1969. Shortly after he retired, Big Blue Nation named their home court after him, and Rupp Arena remains one of the historic landmarks in college basketball today.

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Morning Five: 02.09.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 9th, 2012

  1. Faced with the possibility of missing the NCAA Tournament in 2013 due to its abysmal APR scores Connecticut has offered the NCAA a proposal that would punish itself without having to miss the NCAA Tournament (assuming they are even invited, which is no sure thing this season). While the actual proposal is quite long (all 112 riveting pages are available here), it boils down to the school giving up its share of 2013 NCAA Tournament money, going to study hall instead of playing exhibition games, playing 23 regular season games plus one exempt tournament (max of 26 games total) instead of 27 regular season games plus one exempt tournament (max of 30 games total), and preventing Jim Calhoun from making off-campus visits during the fall recruiting period and making him take a NBA player who graduated from the school (insert your jokes here) to an inner city to talk about the importance of academics. With at least two lottery picks who have not announced whether they are returning for next season and a Hall of Fame coach who is currently on an indefinite medical leave of absence, the NCAA’s decision on this should have a significant effect on the Connecticut basketball program for years to come.
  2. With Memphis officially receiving an invitation to join the Big East in July 2013, Conference USA already has plans on how to move forward and they may make the biggest move in terms of the number of schools involved that we have seen so far. The conference board of directors will look at a proposal later this week about the possibility of merging with the Mountain West Conference. With both conferences facing several defections in the near future, Conference USA would only have eight schools for all sports and Mountain West would only have seven schools since one school (Hawaii) would only be there for football. A merger would create a 15-/16-team conference in the 2013-14 season. While neither conference has a particularly impressive group of schools, it would create an interesting mix of basketball schools with one national power (UNLV) and a handful of others that have been competitive in the past few years.
  3. While a small rivalry in North Carolina took most of the headlines last night, we would be remiss if we did not mention Jim Boeheim passing Dean Smith last night for third on the all-time men’s Division I wins list with his 880th win, which puts him just 22 wins behind Bob Knight for second place with Mike Krzyzewski holding a safe lead at 920 career victories and counting. While we have a hard time putting Boeheim in the conversation of top 5 coaches of all-time (the all-time victory list includes Boeheim, the three others we already mentioned, and Adolph Rupp), but as he builds up his win totals he is almost definitely in the top 10 and working his way up the list even if the top 5 is off-limits right now since we are holding an extra spot in the top 5 for some coach named Wooden.
  4. Even if you are not a fan of advanced metrics particularly defensive ones that can be quite cumbersome and are often of questionable validity, we would encourage you to check out Luke Winn’s analysis of Syracuse‘s defense and the impact Fab Melo has on it. It is much more technical than you will find on any other mainstream site, but Winn does a good job of explaining it at a fairly, but not overly simplistic level. While many people have had issues with some of the work that Winn has published in his weekly power rankings post (usually ignoring his disclaimers), the longer format allows him to more thoroughly explain the statistics. And if you needed any anecdotal evidence of Melo’s impact on defense, watch a replay of  Georgetown’s last possession of regulation last night.
  5. We are still struggling to understand the in-season firing of coaches in situations where the coach is not dealing with a major scandal, but it appears like the trend will not be stopping any time soon as Air Force became the fourth school this season to fire its head coach when it dismissed Jeff Reynolds yesterday afternoon. Reynolds, who was in his fifth season at the school, had a record of 63-82 including 11-10 this season. While the school did not cite a specific event that led to the dismissal they mentioned “the look in the player’s [sic] eyes” and along with other nebulous concepts as well as a break in the schedule to allow for the change. We still do not get how any of that leads to this decision, but for the rest of the season associate head coach Dave Pilipovich will fill in as the interim head coach.
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Big East Morning Five: 01.18.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on January 18th, 2012

  1.  Not even a week after former St. John‘s point guard Nurideen Lindsey announced he would transfer to Arkansas, the Johnnies received a point guard transfer of their own in former Texas A&M freshman Jamal Branch. Branch will have three and a half seasons of eligibility left and is a good addition for Steve Lavin. Lindsey’s departure left a void at point guard and Branch, who averaged 4.2 points and 2.5 assists per game in his short stint as an Aggie, will fill that void, even if it takes a little bit of time.
  2. There is very little doubt that Connecticut is going to miss mercurial freshman Ryan Boatright while he sits out because of his second suspension of the year. But as this article points out, his absence represents an excellent opportunity for Roscoe Smith or DeAndre Daniels. The added size in the lineup will help with rebounding and defensive purposes, but either Smith or Daniels will need to become at least a passable offensive threat or else opponents will continue to harass Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier.
  3. Brendan Prunty of the Newark Star-Ledger had an excellent article on Seton Hall point guard Jordan Theodore and how he is within reach of the school’s single season assist record. It also tells the tale of the current record-holder Golden Sunkett, whose awesome name I have admittedly never heard before. The story isn’t just straight news and that’s what makes it great; it is definitely worth a read.
  4. I wonder how many people thought the Khem Birch leaving Pittsburgh story was all the way done. Those people were proved wrong the other night when Birch sounded off to a radio station about his former teammates and coach Jamie Dixon. Birch says a lot and only those close to the team know whether any of it has some validity, but I doubt we will ever find out the answer. Ashton Gibbs gave the remarks an obligatory dismissal and I feel like I must say, Birch’s remarks about not being embraced seem rather arrogant.
  5. In honor of Syracuse’s record-setting 19-0 start, here is a column about Jim Boeheim, Adolph Rupp, and the former’s career that eventually surpassed the latter’s. We give credit where credit is due, and Boeheim has dealt with immense adversity this season and his team has remained focused and perfect. That is some darn good coaching.
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Tracking The Four: And Then There Were Two (Unbeatens)

Posted by EJacoby on January 17th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor & correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.

In this second full edition of TT4, two of our teams have taken a step backward while the other two continue to roll along as the only unbeaten teams remaining in the country. Do Murray State and Syracuse both have a good chance to go undefeated in the regular season? All four of our teams remain ranked in the Top 20 of the major polls. Let’s take a look at the juxtaposition between the two pairs of teams that are making headlines for different reasons:

Murray State Racers

Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole are Running Full Speed Ahead for Undefeated Murray State (AP Photo/L. Dennee)

  • Trending UP Because… – They’re still without injured starting forward Ivan Aska, who has a broken hand, and the Racers continue to take care of business. MSU (18-0, 6-0 Ohio Valley) remained undefeated after knocking off Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech at home over the past week. The Racers’ unbeaten start extends the school record to open a season, and improving to 18-0 also set the school record for longest win streak overall at any point.
  • This Week’s Key CogDonte Poole. The senior guard has been the perfect complement to Isaiah Canaan all season, but it was Poole who did the heavy lifting this week. He averaged 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals in two games last week, including a career-high 28 points versus Tennessee Tech, to propel his team to those victories. The prolific three-point shooter was more aggressive attacking the basket, getting to the line a total of 23 times in the two games, converting 21 of those shots.
  • Play of the Week – Twenty-five seconds into this video clip, watch star guard Canaan split defenders on a high pick-and-roll before a crafty finish at the rim. The announcer pronounces his name wrong, so just let the highlight do the talking.
  • Talking PointSteve Prohm on improving to 18-0 despite missing their best forward: “Credit our guys’ resiliency. We’re having to play a lot of different ways and we’re just trying to figure things out and they’re doing things on the fly and making adjustments and I couldn’t be prouder of them.
  • Best Read - ESPN’s Dana O’Neil sat down with coach Steve Prohm for an interview Tuesday that discussed how the first-year coach has dealt with success, amongst other issues.
  • Stats Central – According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, the only currently ranked teams that played a more challenging non-conference schedule than Murray State were Duke, Kansas, and Gonzaga. The Racers were actually picked to finish third this season in the OVC by conference coaches in the preseason poll, behind Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech. Those two teams now don’t have as many wins combined (17) as the Racers currently do on the season.
  • What’s Next? – MSU has two road games this week against conference foes dreaming of ending a perfect season. First is a test at Morehead State on Wednesday (7:00 PM ET) against the defending champions of the OVC. Morehead, 3-3 in conference play thus far, is a tough team whose five best players are all upperclassmen. The Racers then head to play at SIU-Edwardsville against a Cougars team that is also 3-3 in conference. Murray will look to continue their undefeated streak again without their best big man as Aska has been ruled out for these games.

Syracuse Orange

  • Trending EVEN Because… – Already at the top of nearly every poll and rating, there’s not much higher to go. Syracuse remained undefeated and improved to 20-0 (7-0 Big East) after beating the three teams at the bottom of the Big East conference last week. The Orange handled their toughest task at Villanova last Wednesday without a problem, and it’s been weeks since SU played a game in which the outcome was ever in doubt after the first 10 minutes. Fast starts are becoming a staple of this team, and it holds leads easily with the most talented bench in the nation. Jim Boeheim’s team is beating Big East opponents by an average of 15.7 points per game, although five of their seven games have come against the bottom four teams in the conference.
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After the Buzzer: Coaches vs. Cancer, Indeed…

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2011

Tonight’s Lede. Year the Fifth. Welcome back for another year of late-night — or overnight, depending on where you are — coverage of the nightly events in college basketball. When we started this feature at the beginning of the 2007-08 season, this was pretty much the only place you could find comprehensive national coverage of the sport posted as soon as possible after the games had ended. Now, everybody does it. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we don’t mind — in fact, it only makes us better. We assume you’re familiar with what this post is about, but each weeknight when there are games of national significance going on, we’ll be here with the After the Buzzer wrapup. On weekends, we’ll put together an overview on Sunday nights that will cover the previous couple of days of games. The intent here, mind you, isn’t to bore anybody with game recaps. We hate those probably more than you do. Rather, we try to mine the universe of nightly games to ferret out the most interesting information in terms of what people are (and will be) talking about the next morning. As with anything we do here, feel free to contact us with ideas for improvement or, really, anything else. We’re always listening.

Grabbing the Cats Wasn't Going to Help Tonight (LHL/C. Bertram)

Your Watercooler Moment. Kentucky Lays Waste to Morehouse College. Even though it was opening night for six schools Monday in the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the game people will be talking about Tuesday morning didn’t even count on anyone’s record. And it’s a good thing, because the NCAA may have had to award John Calipari’s team two or three victories while remanding a completely overmatched Morehouse College down to Division III, or IV, or V, or whatever basketball purgatory teams that lose by 85 points end up. You read that correctly — the final score in last night’s exhibition game between UK and the D-II school better known for notable alumni such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee was 125-40. We won’t cover all the ridiculous stats in this space (The Dagger has you covered for that), but at one point late in the first half the Wildcats finished off a 29-0 run to put their lead at 63-6. It only grew from there, eventually peaking at an 89-point lead that caused the nation’s #1 recruit in the class of 2012, Shabazz Muhammad, to profess his awe. Does it mean anything to lambaste a D-II team by so many points? Probably not. But in just viewing some of the highlights from tonight’s victory, it is abundantly clear that the stable of long, lean athletes that Calipari has at his disposal this season is unmatched in college basketball. At a glance, the Wildcats looked like the Oklahoma City Thunder out there.

Three Dollops of Hoopsurdity.

  • A Hopeful Family. Everyone is no doubt now familiar with the interesting name of one of St. John’s new star recruits, God’s Gift Achiuwa. But the names of his brothers and sisters helps to give a little perspective. We learned during tonight’s broadcast that the transfer has five brothers and sisters with equally hopeful names: sisters Peace and Grace; brothers Promise, Precious and God’s Will.
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The Ultimate Kentucky Villain Will Coach In Rupp Arena

Posted by jstevrtc on October 4th, 2011

Kentucky basketball fans, get ready. He…is…coming.

Just under two weeks ago, several Kentucky outlets reported that another one of these NBA lockout-induced games was in the works, this time one that would pit a squad of former Kentucky players against a team comprised of guys considered “villains” of the UK program. We’re talking about players like Kemba Walker, who, along with the rest of Connecticut mates, bumped Kentucky from the Final Four last season. Tyler Hansbrough would certainly be a candidate for such a team; UK thought they had Hansbrough wrapped up during his recruitment in 2005, and his eventual signing with North Carolina seriously irked Kentucky fans. Then he came into Rupp Arena for an ESPN GameDay game in 2007 and put 14/11 on the Wildcats en route to an 86-77 win.

If It Happens, Surely It Was Predicted in the Book of Revelations.

So, as far as the Team of Villains, you get the idea. We have to admit — it’s a darn good one. We were even inspired (cue shameless self-promotion) to have some fun and come up with other villain teams for other schools. But to actually stage a game like this in Kentucky, where passion for college hoops — and the ability to hold a basketball grudge — resides in the very bone marrow of its citizens, is a strong play.

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The RTC Interview Series: One On One With Taylor Branch

Posted by nvr1983 on September 29th, 2011

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

This time our interview subject is Taylor Branch, who is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 and receiving a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. However, Branch took something of a sabbatical from his usual works on history to study the NCAA in “The Shame of College Sports” that was published in this month’s edition of The Atlantic and a recently released Byliner.com e-publication, “The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA”. Branch’s recent work has generated a lot of discussion and has led Frank Deford to write that it “may well be the most important article ever written about college sports.” When we were extended the opportunity to speak with him on the subject, we jumped at it and what follows is our discussion with him.

Branch Has An E-Book That Supplements His Article

Rush the Court: When we found out that we were going to speak with you we asked some of the other sportswriters that we knew what their thoughts were about your article, and we were surprised to hear that almost all of them had heard about it but very few of them had read the 14,573 words. For those people, could you summarize what the major thesis of your piece is about, because I feel like many people have read the critiques of your essay, but have not read the original article and miss some of the meat of it, which is where I think a lot of the substance is?

Taylor Branch: Right. It has kind of gone at warp speed right past me because there is already an e-book just days after the article came out. An original e-book company asked me if I had any more material and I had another 10,000 words so this is an extended version that includes more basketball. That is already an original e-book. That is what I was doing a Twitter chat about today. My kids are laughing at me because I have been print author for 40 years and now in just a week or 10 days since this thing went on a newsstand I already have an original e-book expansion called “The Cartel,” which is 25,000 words, and I had a Twitter chat just over an hour ago, which I didn’t even know how to do. [laughs] Obviously, I have stumbled into something. I just did this as a temporary magazine assignment between books and didn’t really realize that it was going to get this much attention. It began and is a survey of college sports including its history. I am a historian. I write about history for a living. I have been writing history books for 40 years. They asked me to write about it because I don’t write about sports so I could come at it fresh. My basic question was why is the United States the only country in the world that plays big-money sports at institutions of higher learning and where does that come from in our history. A lot of the book is that. Where did the NCAA come from? Where does it derive its powers and where it came from? I went to North Carolina and everybody in North Carolina cares about basketball. Where does the money from March Madness go? Inevitably, the focus became more and more on money because money is the driving force of college sports. And more and more for me the focus became how do we justify the amateurism rules that the NCAA applies to the players in college sports, but not to the coaches and the schools themselves, who have been making more and more money and marketing themselves more aggressively. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that you cannot justify these rules. The sum total of what holds them up is like The Wizard of Oz because we put up with it. We don’t put up with it for the adults or coaches, but we do impose it on the kids. I think those rules cannot be justified.  That really touched a nerve because people are saying that I am demanding to pay college athletes. That’s not quite right. I am not demanding that any college pay an athlete. What I think you cannot justify is the college banding together and saying that we refuse and will conspire not to pay the athletes anything more than the value of your scholarship. I don’t think that can be justified. I think it is doomed. I think it is already falling apart. That is the basic thrust of my article.

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What Shall Be The Fate Of Rupp Arena

Posted by jstevrtc on August 25th, 2011

Make your pilgrimage now, Kentucky fans, and take as many photos as you can, for the Rupp Arena you have worshiped for so long is on borrowed time.

An article from Tuesday’s Lexington Herald-Leader by Beverly Fortune and Jerry Tipton has us thinking that it’s merely a question of time, now, and which model to follow. Do the powers that be in the Bluegrass go the Fenway Park route and make piecemeal renovations over several years to the existing structure in downtown Lexington, or do they adopt the Yankee Stadium philosophy and build a brand new church arena elsewhere? Among UK backers, a discussion on this matter can get every bit as heated as one between Red Sox and Yankees fans about which group has the right to claim moral ascendancy.

Renovate the Old Or Start Afresh? Rupp In Its Current Form (image: uky.edu)

Fenway might call itself the oldest sports venue used by a sports franchise in the United States, but it’s undergone an almost yearly series of alterations since 1999 to bring up to speed everything from the sod to the seats to the scoreboards. Heck, there’s even a party deck. Most importantly, the renovations have been so well done that, even though this isn’t your grandfather’s Fenway Park, Boston officials say that the place has another 60 years of life in it and you can forget any plans for a replacement. Yankee Stadium, as we know, received a different treatment; the one built in 1923 hosted its inhabitants for the last time in 2008 and was demolished in 2010, a year after the Yanks had moved into a brand new glittering jewel of a stadium called…Yankee Stadium. Aside from a tendency for balls hit to right field to carry a little longer than they did in the old park (this happened even when the Yankee pitching situation was more stable), it opened to raves, not to mention a championship in its first year.

So what fate, then, for old Rupp Arena? If it can be updated in its current location, should it be? Or is it time for a brand new facility?

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Morning Five: 08.09.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 9th, 2011

  1. It looks like you’ll have to go the rest of your life without any new rhymes from Tennessee senior forward Renaldo Woolridge, or at least until he decides to make his (inevitable) comeback. Going by Swiperboy as far as his rap, er, career is concerned, Woolridge has decided to pull the plug on his mic because he doesn’t get why other, lesser-talented rappers have achieved record deals while he remains unsigned, a common lament among countless rappers, garage bands, prog rockers, et al. We’ve been asking questions about the rules on this for a long time, by the way, without a satisfactory reply. Woolridge (1.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.5 APG last season) will be one of only two UT seniors in the upcoming season.
  2. “I look into the hills, whence comes my help,” was a scripture Adolph Rupp once quoted regarding his in-state recruits who eventually became wearers of the Kentucky blue. One former Wildcat who knows something about coming from the hills is Richie Farmer, a sharpshooting high school legend from the middle of nowhere in the 1980s who ended up not just donning the UK uniform, but found himself in the spring of 1992 playing in what most people still feel is the greatest college basketball game ever played.  RTC alum Josh Weill takes an enjoyable look back and also has the latest on this man whose name will always be associated with bluegrass basketball legend more than the bumpy political career that followed his time in Lexington.
  3. Andre Drummond. The top recruit in the 2012 high school class. Or is it 2011? Is he staying or going? Or staying in high school but going elsewhere? Drummond says he could enroll in college this year, but has considered staying in prep school another year. His coach says probably not. What’s going on, here? Is Drummond planning to go to prep school for another year and then enter the NBA Draft by the age limit rule? Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy examines the Drummond question and explains why that plan would certainly not be in the best interests of the young man.
  4. Considering the last two seasons, we almost don’t want to say anything out loud or write it anywhere on this site, lest something bad happen and we lose all of our Purdue readers, not to mention the chance to watch the young man play again…but Robbie Hummel is good to go. In case you missed his tweet on Friday, Hummel claims that he “passed all his tests.” If you’re not following him, that link takes you to his account, so now you’re out of excuses. How he comes back will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the early part of the 2011-12 season.
  5. LSU’s Matt Derenbecker would have been a sophomore for the Tigers this year, but, as he explained to NOLA.com, he will be withdrawing from LSU immediately to “address some personal matters.” Derenbecker played in all 32 of the Tigers’ games last season and averaged a pretty healthy 22.6 minutes per contest, putting up 6.5 PPG and 2.1 RPG. He was a two-time high school POY in Louisiana, and despite some growing pains as a freshman, we (and probably many LSU fans) were looking forward to seeing how his game progressed. Whatever he’s going through, we hope he comes out fine on the other end and is back playing basketball somewhere soon.
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