Cutler's Comments

Jun 15, 2012 5:11 PM by Alan Cutler

1958 Cats Still Having Fun

Adolph Rupp was rough, especially on his 1958 team.

Rupp said he had a collection of "fiddlers" when he needed violinists. He said it could be his worst team in years. Over 50 years later, it's still the Fiddlin' Five who beat Seattle 84-72 for the NCAA Championship.

It turned out to be one of one of Rupp's favorite teams. After winning the title, the team wanted to throw Rupp in the shower, but they were afraid to, so they tossed assistant coach Harry Lancaster in instead.

"I'd throw him in in a minute now," says a laughing Earl Atkins.

"We were not as bad as he thought," says John Crigler who had 14 points and 14 rebounds as UK won their fourth NCAA championship.

Rupp will always be one of the greatest coaches of all time, and his players really respected him, but he wasn't very popular with his players.

"We were better ballplayers. He wasn't the only thing that made us good," says Crigler.

"There's no amount of money that could ever buy my four years for the memories I've had at the University of Kentucky," says Billy Smith.

"Greatest feeling in the world getting together after 50 years," says John Crigler.

"We love each other," says Earl Atkins. "We're brothers. We all came through the same door. We love each other and we care about each other."

When the players get together, they always tell stories about Rupp. They know what Rupp would say if he walked into the restaurant in Georgetown where the players often get together.

"Quit dribbling Rose," says a laughing Gayle Rose who graduated in 1955.

"We're having too much fun," says Billy Smith. "We're laughing too much and he didn't like that."

Gerry Calvert finished playing in 1957, then went against the Globetrotters, and then became Rupp's lawyer.

"I represented him for the balance of his life," says Calvert. "He never knew my name. He always called me Red. He never knew my name."

Great group of men. My wish is they are all able to get together in 2018, they are all in good health, and they keep on telling the same lies, the same stories.

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