Rupp’s Runts

runtsThe 1965-66 UK team earned this nickname because the tallest man among the Wildcats starting five was guard Tommy Kron, at 6-5. Center Thad Jaracz, who worked his way into the starting lineup, was also 6-5, while forwards and Pat Riley were 6-4 and guard Louie Dampier was 6-0. The team became one of Rupp’s favorites during his long tenure at Kentucky. Before the season started, Rupp commented, “I honestly believe that man-for-man we just might have in the making a better team than we had in 1958, when we won the national championship.” The Runts did indeed turn out to be one of the outstanding teams in UK’s glorious history, compiling a sparkling 27-2 record, but coming just one win shy of the title when upset by Western (now UTEP) in the finals, 72-65. During the 1990-91 season, UK honored Rupp’s Runts on the silver anniversary of their NCAA runner-up season.

Basketball starting five (“Rupp’s Runts”) pose with coach after winning the Tournament Mideast Regional in Iowa City (84-77 over Michigan); pictured left to right are Larry Conley, Rupp, Tommy Kron, Thad Jaracz, Pat Riley, and Louie Dampier; Lexington Herald-Leader photo

University of Kentucky basketball coach posed with his returning starters in October 1965 prior to the 1965-66 season. From left are, Larry Conley, Louie Dampier, and Tommy Kron. This team would be known as Rupp’s Runts and would lose the Championship game 72-65, to Western (now UTEP). It was announced that Conley would be be honored at the 2016 Southeastern Conference Tournament as UK’s Basketball Legend. Herald-Leader Archive Photo