|#42||Pat Riley (L)||F||Jr.||6-4||205||Schenectady, NY (Linton High)||All-American [AP (3rd), UPI (3rd), USBWA (1st), Converse (2nd), Helms]; All-NCAA Final Four Team; NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player; SEC Player of the Year [Associated Press] ; All-SEC [First Team (AP, UPI & Coaches)];|
|#10||Louie Dampier (L)||G||Jr.||6-0||167||Indianapolis, IN (Southport)||All-American [Consensus (2nd), AP (1st), UPI (2nd), NABC (2nd), Converse (1st), Helms]; All-NCAA Final Four Team; All- NCAA Regional Team; All-SEC [First Team (AP, UPI & Coaches)]; Academic All-American; Academic All-SEC;|
|#55||Thad Jaracz (L)||C-F||So.||6-5||230||Lexington, KY (Lafayette)||All-American [AP (3rd)]; All-SEC [Second Team (AP); Third Team (UPI)];|
|#40||Larry Conley (L)||F-C||Sr.||6-3||172||Ashland, KY (High)||All-SEC [First Team (Coaches)Third Team (AP & UPI)];|
|#30||Tommy Kron (L)||F-G||Sr.||6-5||202||Tell City, IN||All-SEC [Third Team (UPI)];|
|#45||Cliff Berger (L)||C||So.||6-8||225||Centralia, IL (High)||Academic All-SEC;|
|#24||Bob Tallent (L)||G||So.||6-1||179||Langley, KY (Maytown High)||-|
|#32||Steve Clevenger (L)||G||So.||6-0||185||Anderson, IN (High)||-|
|#44||Brad Bounds (L)||F-C||Jr.||6-5||207||Bluffton, IN (High)||-|
|#12||Jim LeMaster (L)||G||So.||6-2||188||Paris, KY (Bourbon County)||-|
|#22||Gene Stewart||F||Jr.||6-2||187||Brookville, IN (High)||-|
|#25||Tommy Porter (L)||F||So.||6-3||188||Gracey, KY (Christian County)||-|
|-||Bob Windsor||F||Jr.||6-4||230||Silver Spring, MD (High)||-|
|#50||Gary Gamble (L)||F||So.||6-4||185||Earlington, KY (High)||-|
|#54||Larry Lentz (L)||C||Sr.||6-8||217||Lakeview, OH (Indian Lake)||-|
| Schedule | Player Statistics | Game Statistics |
Front Row (l to r): Head Coach Adolph Rupp, Gene Stewart, Pat Riley, Louie Dampier, Bob Tallent, Steve Clevenger, Jim LeMaster, Assistant Coach Harry Lancaster
Season Review - 1966 Kentucky Wildcats (Kentuckian)
There has been no single unifying force at the University of Kentucky as great as "Rupp's Runts," and there never will be. The team of Larry Conley, Louie Dampier, Pat Riley, Thad Jaracz, and Tommy Kron was a unit of spirit, sportsmanship, desire and ability. They are ours, and we selfishly claim them. For what they gave to us was a feeling of pride deeper than we would ever care to admit.
Before the season opened against Hardin-Simmons, an intra-squad game was held. The starting five was pitted against the substitutes. When the game was over, the starters had defeated the reserves by a slim margin of two points. Rupp was not particularly impressed with what he saw. No one was.
This incident only served to reinforce the pessimism that most of the Kentucky fans had before the regular season began. The Cats had the worst season in Rupp's career at the University the year before. During that long season individual play was predominate among the Wildcat starters.
As the new season progressed, Kentucky fans could see those individuals begin to play as a unit. Louie Dampier and Pat Riley produced the points and the only newcomer to the squad, Thad Jaracz, screened and set the picks for the scorers. Tommy Kron and Larry Conley provided the leadership and pass playing to make the team click. Together, they ran to the number one spot in the nation.
There were only two blue moments for the Kentucky players and followers during the year. The first of these came at Tennessee when the Volunteers handed the Wildcats their first defeat of the season. The second loss of the season was seen by millions of basketball fans over the entire nation. The favored Wildcats played their worst game of the season in losing to Texas Western, but no one had expected them to go that far: who could blame them for one bad night.
Standing 6'5", Tommy Kron is one of the taller guards in the nation. He was second on the team in rebounding, grabbing 208 for an average of 8.3 a game. His high for the season was a team high of 15 against Hardin-Simmons. Kron was the quarterback of the club. He called the plays and set up the team on offense. On defense he played at the point of Rupp's patent zone. When Kentucky used a man-to-man defense, Kron was given the task of guarding the opponent's high scorer. He was selected to play in the East-West All-Star game, and in the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star series Kron played a vital part in Kentucky's victory over Indiana at Freedom Hall in Louisville.
Louie Dampier, the recipient of many of Conley's brilliant passes, was second in scoring for the Wildcats with a 21.1 average. Rupp told Dampier that he'd make him an all-American if he came to Kentucky, but not many people thought he'd fulfill his promise in Dampier's junior year. Four individual single game highs were set by Dampier during the season. He scored 42 points with 18 field goals against Vanderbilt and made 10 out of 13 free throws against Auburn to set the team high in attempts and free throws made. A native of Indiana, he had the best field goal percentage, hitting 51.7 of his attempts. This was a team high for the season and also bettered his last season percentage.
The Irishman, Pat Riley, comes from Schenectady, New York, where he was a high school all-American quarterback. Many top football schools, such as Alabama and Notre Dame, tried to get Riley on a football scholarship, but he had always wanted to play basketball at Kentucky. A natural athlete, Riley led the team in scoring with a 21.9 average, and was the team's leading rebounder with a 8.9 average. He grabbed 15 rebounds twice during the regular season against Northwestern and Indiana. Named on several all-American squads, he was the work horse of the team. He never seemed to have an off night during the regular season, but was a consistent scorer and hard fighting rebounder. He showed his great ability to leap by jumping center on the tip-offs. Even though he is only 6'3", he rarely lost a center jump.
The only sophomore of the starting five, Thad Jaracz,is the biggest and youngest of the group. Just eighteen, he stands 6'5" and weighs 230 pounds. The "Bear", as he is known by his teammates, is a home town boy. Overlooked by most big name schools, Rupp liked some of his moves and decided to give him a chance to play at Kentucky. Hard work and conditioning made it possible for Jaracz to fit in with the Kentucky fast break type of basketball.
Such conditioning helped the Wildcats overcome many of their taller opponents in the second half. Twice against Vanderbilt the Cats started with a steady pace and kept it throughout the entire game while Vandy seemed to tire and have to substitute in the late stages of the game.
Playing before over 13,000 Kentucky fans in Lexington, the Cats defeated the Commodores 93-86. It was a close game at the half with Kentucky holding a slight advantage; but in the second half, Clyde Lee, Vandy's All-American, tired, and Kentucky pulled away with over 10 minutes left in the game.
"It was the same type of game at Vanderbilt. The Commodores needed a win at home to tie the Wildcats for first place in the SEC. This time the Cats got 42 points from Dampier and defeated the tiring Vandy team 105-90. Following the victory, the Cats were voted number one in the nation and remained there for the rest of the season. An improved Tennessee team seemed to be the only obstacle in the way of a perfect regular season for the Cats after they defeated Alabama for their twentieth win.
The Wildcats seemed to overlook an under-rated Mississippi State team. Home court is always an advantage in basketball, but the Mississippi State fans made it rough on their own team. Five thousand screaming unsportsman-like spectators threw paper and coins at the Wildcats and the officials until they were charged with a technical foul.
After next defeating an outclassed Mississippi team by forty-three points, the Cats prepared themselves for two successive games against defensive minded Tennessee. In the first game, Rupp stationed Riley in one corner and brought Dampier to the other, moving Conley out to a back court position. With Conley and Kron hitting first Riley and then Dampier, the two got 28 and 29 points respectively over the zone, and secured Kentucky an easy 78-64 victory. The Cats out rebounded a much taller Tennessee team 46-27 with Dampier and Kron getting twenty between them.
Seven days later Kentucky played at Tennessee using the same type of offense, but Tennessee made one change in its zone defense and added Howard Baynes to the starting lineup. The defense spread out their corner men to stop Riley and Dampier's bombardment on the basket, and Baynes added the rebounding strength and leadership needed to hand the Wildcats their first regular season loss, 69-62.
Kentucky tuned up for the NCAA East Regional Playoffs by defeating Tulane 103-74.
Henry Finkle and Dayton were the Cats' first opponent. Finkle, who stands 7 feet was unstoppable in a man-to-man defense, so Kentucky switched to a zone in an attempt to stop him. It was a closer game than most Kentucky fans thought it would be, with Kentucky's never-tiring five pulling away at the end of the battle to win by seven points.
Seven points again were Kentucky's margin of victory over Big Ten powerhouse Michigan. Cazzie Russell, (who later teamed with Conley and Kron to lead the East All-Stars over the West All-Stars), showed why he was chosen the "player of the year" by continually pulling Michigan within striking distance every time the Wildcats would start a bust out. However, the Cats proved that it took a five man effort, not a one man "show," to win.
Sickness struck the Kentucky basketballers in College Park, Maryland, a few days before their semi-final game with second-rated Duke. Conley was hit hardest by the bug, and lost a considerable amount of weight, having to rest frequently during the Cats duel with Duke.
Kentucky played one of its roughest but most brilliant games of the year against the Blue Devils. Not until the latter part of the game did the Wildcats grab a four point lead which resulted in trading baskets with Duke until the final gun went off, the Blue Devils failing to close the gap.
The Duke and Kentucky game pitted the number one team against the number two team in the nation. Both teams played at their best and the number one team came out on top. In their second game, the Wildcats were favored to defeat the number three team in the country, Texas Western.
The Miners from Texas, another Cinderella team, displayed a brilliant show of basketball hi-jacking and broken-field driving to break Kentucky's record of never losing an NCAA championship game.
It was Kentucky's fast breaking offense against Texas Western's defense. The Miners' defense often forced the Cats into taking bad shots. As a consequence, the Wildcats hit a season low of 38.6 percent from the field, though they were able to outscore the Miners in total field goals.
Kentucky played fine defense themselves, but Texas Western proved to be able to control the ball even against tight guarding. Their three little guards hit from outside UK's zone while the Cats missed their long jumpers.
Texas Western grabbed a six, then a ten point lead as the Cats fouled in desperation. Texas Western made the free throws. They hit 28 throws to 11 for Kentucky. Over a 37-minute stretch, the Miners hit 26 out of 27 free throw attempts.
Classic stories seldom have good endings.