LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I like to pull this out every once in a while, and now, with the University of Kentucky hours away from its Final Four matchup against Wisconsin, seems like a good time.
In his book, "Championship Basketball," legendary UK coach Adolph Rupp left few basketball topics unexamined. The following is an excerpt of his thoughts on winning tournament basketball. There are ideas here that are still useful today. As well, it shows how big-time tournaments, travel plans, etc., have changed.
There's a lot of time to pass before game day. Enjoy this, and note how Rupp had his teams pass the time before night games:
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EVERY YEAR as the mad month of March approaches, every coach in the
United States wonders about the same thing: How can I win the
Perhaps the best answer to this could be supplied by the team's
record up to the time of the tournament. However, this is not always a
true criterion. A good team that should win the championship is upset in
the first round by a team that has a very spotty record.
In 1934 we took to the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Atlanta a
team that had been undefeated during the entire season. Only eight
teams were invited. The Mississippi team had had a bad siege of the flu
and was unable to participate. A last-minute appeal was made to Florida,
who had a poor record for the season, asking them to fill in for
Mississippi. They got their boys together and were very happy to come.
In the first round they knocked off Kentucky and progressed to the
finals of the tournament, losing only in the last few minutes of play.
Therefore, what factors govern tournament competition? I would say
that a team must not only be physically fit, but must also be mentally
right for tournament play. The longer I stay in this coaching
profession, the more convinced I become that a good athlete is good only
if he is mentally right.
This is how we like to handle our tournament squad. In the ten days
prior to the tournament, we wish them to maintain an absolutely strict
routine. We try to arrive at the tournament with all the boys in good
mental and physical condition. We work very little the last five days
before the tournament except on shooting and on fundamentals. In other
words, we want them to be in the mental condition of wanting to play
when they get to the tournament.
We plan to reach the tournament site about eight hours before our
first game. Usually there are a lot of fans following every team. They
wish the team well, but at the same time bother the kids to death. We
like to keep our boys away from the crowds. We allow them to see some of
the games, especially if there is a team playing that we have not
played or we have not seen play during the year. On the afternoon of the
day we play, we prefer that the boys go to a show or rest in their
hotel, rather than run around the streets or sit in the gym watching
other teams play. When a boy is competing in athletics, it takes
something out of him to sit there and watch game after game, because he
is mentally playing the game too.
Should we be fortunate enough to win, we then maintain our daily
routine. We get the boys up at 8:00 A.M. and feed them a light
breakfast. In fact, all our meals are lighter on the day of a game than
they are at other times. What do we feed them for breakfast? We like
half a grapefruit, two scrambled eggs, two pieces of toast and coffee or
milk. We eat at 12:00 and, again, we like half of a grapefruit, a small
steak, a small baked potato, peas, toast, a dipper of ice cream, and a
Then we like the boys to go to their rooms at 2:00 o'clock and take a
nap. We call them at 4:30; at 5:00 we eat two poached eggs, two pieces
of dry toast and tea. We let them walk around until 6:00 o'clock and
then get them off the street and back up to their rooms.
We like to dress at the hotel. If the game is played at eight
o'clock, we leave the hotel at 7:15 and go immediately to the dressing
room. After the game is over, we get something light to eat, and go
right to bed.
All visitors are kept out of the rooms during the entire period of
the tournament, and we never permit more than the two boys assigned to a
room to be there at any time. All telephones are blocked and no calls
go in or out of their rooms. To sum it up, we want to maintain the daily
routine. We don't want the boys mentally disturbed by a bunch of
well-wishers, card sharks and general nuisances.
Most teams eat too much on a trip. We like to bend over the other
way; a hungry cat still catches the most mice. Then, we like the boys to
get plenty of sleep and rest because it is good mental and physical
conditioning and promotes a general desire to win which helps bring
success at these tournaments.