We move forward with our tournament today putting forth two guys who came from different eras and were vastly different players. But first, our results from yesterday. We saw two of the toughest guys in UK history have a slobberknocker that was much closer than the score indicated. Rick Robey pulled it out 5-0 against Jimmy Dan Connor, in a matchup that left both men beaten and bloodied. Matt, Rob, Larry, Gregg and the fans all went Rick’s way, although the fan vote was very close. But with that, we move on to the next battle.
Ask your great-father who should win this tournament and he may very well say Alex Groza. Possibly the first true superstar of the modern era of Kentucky basketball, Alex Groza could have very easily been a number one seed in this tournament. Groza’s accolades are amazing. He won two NCAA titles, playing with “The Fabulous Five” and could have won another if the Cats did not choose to play the NIT in 1949. He was part of an Olympic gold medal winning team when the Cats represented the USA in 1948. He was a THREE TIME All-American, yes you read that correctly….THREE TIME, becoming the first (and only) UK player to receive that honor for every full season he played for the Cats. Though his talent on the court cannot be understated, his legacy is a bit tarnished by the point shaving scandal that rocked his career in the 1949 NIT. After Rupp famously said the gamblers couldnt get near his boys, they did and Groza later admitted to shaving points in exchange for money. Nevertheless “The Beak”‘s individual accomplishments are virtually unmatched, becoming the 10th all time scorer for the Cats in an era when individual scoring did not occur at the rate we see currently. Groza is a legend, as seen by Rupp’s famous quote when asked if Groza’s entrance into the US Army in 1945 would hurt his team, “you dont replace a Caruso with a barbershop singer.” (for more on Groza and all the other UK players, go visit Jon Scott’s site
Coming from the hardcore halls of Lafayette High School, Dirk Minniefield may be the most athletic player that UK has ever seen. Playing from 1979 to 1983, this former Kentucky Mr. Basketball was able to score (43rd all time), dish the rock (1st all time) and pick it off (10th all time). He had a remarkably consistent career, third team All SEC twice and second team All SEC once. In each year, he was the team leader as can be seen by the fact that he stands as the all time leading assist giver at UK by OVER 100 ASSISTS over second place…..a remarkable accomplishment. Dirk was a great shooter for a guard, finishing over 50 percent, but was better known for his ability to lead a team and make the smart play. He presided over consistently good teams and found his last career game the “Dream Game” of 1983, where his performance was spotty at the end. But that game does not overshadow the multitude of earlier memories including the best dunk in UK….scratch that, college basketball history. Watch below and enjoy.
So there you go…..Groza and Dirk…..two legends. Cast your ballot and let us know what you think of the guys in the comment section.