‘Adolph Rupp And The Rise Of Kentucky Basketball’ Recounts The Glory Days Of The UK Program & Its Legendary Coach
Kentucky basketball, Adolph Rupp
Book Review By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Sports Editor
It is not very often that this scenario exists, but Kentucky basketball fans need a boost right now.
Their team is struggling so much it is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. The nation’s #1 recruiting class is playing as if it’s a bunch of unranked walk-ons, there’s finger-pointing in the locker room about individual play and even the coach, John Calipari, is being heavily criticized by fans and media for seeming to be more concerned with not hurting his players’ feelings regarding playing time than he is about winning.
Heck, the players even rushed the court after they beat Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt!
That is why every Kentucky basketball fan needs to get a copy of a new book and do it now to reassure themselves of the greatness and tradition of the program.
They need to put on their UK shirt, grab a blue-and-white shaker and sit down with a glass of bourbon and start reading Adolph Rupp And The Rise Of Kentucky Basketball by historian James Duane Bolin (University of Kentucky Press, $24.95).
The book tells the complete story of the legendary coach, literally from his early childhood to his playing (or, more accurate, non-playing) days at Kansas, to small midwestern high schools (did you know he was also a wresting coach and won a state championship) and through his 42 years at UK.
It won’t take long for the blue blood in fans to start running through their veins, to get inspired about the program again and to forget about the current team’s troubles for a while.
The 394-page book is an interesting read for all college basketball fans, and UK fans in particular. It is literally everything you could want to know about Kentucky basketball from before Rupp arrived on campus thru his forced retirement due to the state-mandated retirement age at 70.
And while it will rouse up the spirits any Kentucky fan, it is not a PR puff piece by any means. In fact, it starts out almost making you want to put it down by giving an initial impression Rupp was a complete racist. However, further reading goes on to explain Rupp’s stance on race and explaining it in context with the times of his coaching tenure, in particular during the volatile 1960s. Bolen devotes a full chapter on the subject titled “Rupp and Race” and points out he sent black players to other schools until he felt the time was right to recruit them to Kentucky.
Bolen also examines the point-shaving scandal of 1951 and even goes so far as to state that the game had passed by Rupp in his later years and it was time for him to retire.
But mostly, the book portrays an interesting profile of Rupp, one that peels back his crusty exterior and reveals a man with a heart, a soul, a sense of humor and a work ethic and determination that propelled him from poor Kansas farm boy to a national sports legend.
Along the way, it shares some interesting facts such about Rupp as these:
• Rupp really didn’t want the Kentucky basketball job when he interviewed for it
• Rupp almost became the basketball coach at Duke
• In his four years playing at Kansas, Rupp scored zero career points.
• Regarded by some as a racist, Rupp had a black player on one of his high school teams.
The book can be purchased in Kentucky book stores and on-line at: kentuckypress.com.