There are many great things about Kentucky basketball, ranging from its passionate fans to its amazing facilities. But the one thing that makes Kentucky basketball truly unique is its unparalleled history. No program in America can claim the hold on college basketball for a longer and more consistent time frame than the Kentucky Wildcats. UK has been great in every decade and has been a national power since the beginning of the modern college basketball era. Only a handful of college programs in history have won a national title with more than one coach…..the Cats have won with four. Simply put, no program can touch the history of Kentucky basketball and if you dont feel that history in Rupp Arena when the two minute video that showcases Kentucky’s past is played…..well you must barely have a Big Blue soul.
Part of the glory of that history is honoring and remembering it, something Kentucky has done a great deal in recent years. That is why Saturday will be a special day in Rupp as the 1958 Championship team will be in attendance for the exhibition game against Seattle. The UK administration made a great decision in bringing Seattle (now Division II, but moving up) to Rupp for the occasion and the 1958 team will be there to be honored both before and after the game. The “Fiddling Five”, named by Rupp because he thought their style of play was more like a fiddler than a violinist, even though they would be playing a “Carnegie Hall” schedule, are icons of Kentucky basketball history and have a special place in the heart of older Kentucky fans. Vernon Hatton, Johnny Cox and the rest of the team played an entertaining style of basketball and defeated Elgin Baylor (one of the true underrated greats in the history of the sport) and Seattle in the finals. The great Jon Scott, whose site is THE place for Kentucky basketball history, has the boxscore and news report of that game and it is a must read for all Kentucky fans.
I love watching today’s Kentucky basketball and like all UK fans, I am ready for the Billy Clyde era. But as we begin this new time in Kentucky basketball history, we should take a minute and remember the foundation of the program as well. Talk to an older fan sometime and listen to them speak of the players of yesteryear and what they meant to the program and state. And take time to honor and remember on occasions such as Saturday, former players like the “Fiddling Five”. At its core, that is Kentucky basketball.