So we have reached halfway through the first bracket of our Greatest UK Player of All Time Tournament and it has generally gone by form. Dan Issel took out Jeff Brassow, much to the fans’ chagrin Jim Master beat John Pelphrey and Pat Riley knocked out Randolph Morris. Our last matchup was Melvin Turpin vs Richie Farmer and the votes fell down like this:
Matt Jones: Turpin
Rob Gidel: Turpin
Larry Vaught: Farmer
Gregg Doyel: Turpin
Fans: Turpin (in an upset)
So the Dinner Bell goes on to face Riley in a matchup that should be very interesting. Our next battle is a traditional 6-11 game with two guys who made their reputations in the 70s, Rick Robey vs Jimmy Dan Connor.
Mr. Basketball from the State of Louisiana looked past the home state Tigers and became one of the great UK players of all time. Rick Robey was a crucial member of the 1978 Kentucky national championship team and a player known as one of the “toughest SOBs to wear the uniform.” Blessed with Matt Jones-like hair, Robey was a banger, listed at 6-10 with elbows that made anyone near him tread very carefully. Rick was a two time First Team All-SEC player and was consensus 2nd team All American during his senior season. He ranks 21st on the all time scoring list with an astounding 58% Field Goal percentage, a number that puts him 4th all time for players playing three or more years (you know who is first….Marquis Estill of all people). Robey is 9th all time in rebounds and his ferocity on the boards is likely his greatest legacy for the Cats. Playing in an era when the shorts were obscenely short, Robey nevertheless was all man, and his toughness was often credited by Joe B Hall as the difference for the 1978 championship team. He comes into this tournament believed by many to be underseeded and he is poised to make some noise.
Jimmy Dan Connor
If you think Rick Robey was the toughest, then Jimmy Dan Connor (who everytime I hear his name I have to fend off the urge to say “and I dont care”) might have a word for you outside after the show. Connor played one year with Robey, but was better known for his role on the 1975 Final Four Cats team that went down at the hands of the final John Wooden team. Connor hailed from the mean streets of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and was a “tough as nails” guy who could get the big basket, rebound or assist while guarding the other team’s best player. While he never received tremendous individual accolades (he was Third Team All-SEC twice), he could score when he needed to, putting up 35 in a memorable game against North Carolina his senior season. The great Larry Vaught said that his best memory of Connor was when the then 7th grader threw a Vaught layup “30 rows in the stands” during a high school game. Connor finished his career 52 on the all time scoring list and this first round matchup would, according to Vaught, “leave both guys with a busted nose.”
So there you go…..Rick vs Jimmy Dan. If you are from the 70s era or know much about these guys, let us hear it. Everyone vote in the comments section and get ready for a Jim Ross “slobberknocker.”