Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pre-game update

Apparently, the team is that bad to where Mark criticizes the two people that gave Kentucky votes in the AP poll.

Martin O'Malley's gubernatorial campaign has raised close to $4.2 million dollars.

Albert Brooks, a Jewish actor-director-comedian, is Looking for Comedy in a Muslim world.

Unless news breaks, I'll be back in time for the pre-game show at 7:30 PM.

A quick edit after reading the UK notes in the Herald-Leader. If we can't win tonight, then let's hope that Rupp's Runts provide some motivation on Saturday when they reunite at Rupp Arena!
Kentucky has had few teams which got more out of less through chemistry and collective effort. Five operating as one was the slingshot this David used to slay Goliaths.

Ironically, the Runts offered a diverse number of ideas to explain the cohesion. Yet it seemed to mysteriously descend on the team like a blessing from the basketball gods.

"If I could explain that to you, I'd be the greatest sports consultant in history," Larry Conley said. "No one knows what brings teams together."

Adolph Rupp melded a team of varying personalities. Louie Dampier and Thad Jaracz were reserved. Pat Riley a court jester. Tommy Kron and Conley were seniors intent on, as Conley put it, going out "with a bang."

Conley noted a 15-10 record the season before as a contributing factor.

"I didn't want to go out of there with a bad record," Conley said. "That was the last thing we wanted. Kron and I dug in our heels. Nothing verbal. It was just understood."

Other theories suggested by the Runts included:
• Necessity.
As the nickname suggested, the Runts could not physically overpower opponents.
"I think we had to do that," Kron said. "If we didn't play together, if we didn't block out, we'd get beat."

• Conditioning.
That was the first year then-assistant Joe B. Hall introduced a conditioning program.
"We got in really good shape," Kron said. "That really made a difference."

• Humility.
"A lot of it was we were happy to be there," Jaracz said. "It was an honor to play for Kentucky and an honor to play for Adolph. You wanted to do the right thing and you wanted to be successful."

• Rupp's system.
"He had a set plan," Dampier said of Rupp. "A lot of ball movement. He just worked on fundamentals. We always ran drills with a ball in our hands."

Kron noted a consistent approach: man-to-man defense, fast-break offense. "We did things we had to do to be successful," he said. "We didn't vary it."

• Rupp's insistence.
Rupp tolerated no deviance from the system.

"Everything you did had to be so precise," said Bob Tallent, a reserve on the team. "He watched everything like a hawk. He knew if you crossed your fingers incorrectly. You had to do everything correctly or you wouldn't be around long."

Tallent recalled a drill the players ran for 10 minutes. Only four mistakes were permitted. "That's in probably a thousand passes," he said. "If we made five mistakes, we had to do it all over."

• Oh yes, talent.

"They recruited great players," said Tallent, who later became a college coach. "That always helps."

It didn't take the Runts long to realize they were on to something special.

"At Thanksgiving, I thought, 'You know what? I think we're going to be pretty good,'" Conley said. "That was a team that fell into roles rather quickly. All of a sudden you look around and say, 'This is my role.'"

A team unranked at the start of the season became No. 1.

"We had the right people at the right place, and the right people off the bench," Dampier said. "It just snowballed."

Conley defined what Dampier meant by right people.

"You have to make sure you have unselfish people," he said. "All we wanted to do was win. That's uppermost."

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