This series delves into the depths of each decade of Kentucky , and it’s now the 1940’s turn. Every player to play in that era will be listed and a pretty darn good All-Decade team is formed. Pretty keen, in my opinion.
Yes, that last fellow is Joe B. Hall. Pics/info thanks to BigBlueHistory.net
After the 1930s, Adolph Rupp found himself already deeply entrenched in the Kentucky job. While great success hadn’t hit by 1940, the rest of the decade saw an explosion of Wildcat basketball. Kentucky had 4 NCAA berths: 1942, 1945, 1948, and 1949. ’42 ended in a Final Four and ’45 ended in an Elite Eight. Finally, Rupp got UK its first NCAA Nationall Championship in 1948, and repeated in 1949. Kentucky also won the NIT in 1946, and finished second in 1947. On top of that, the Cats won their conference in 1940, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, and 1949. Needless to say, it ended up being a very successful decade for Kentucky basketball.
The 1940’s also had its downs. World War II captured a few players from Kentucky in middle of the decade. (Also, two stars, Groza and Beard, were eventually banned for possible point shaving, but we’ll ignore that). Many others served, but let’s look at those who left the team because of WWII:
1940’s All-War Team (We Salute You): Walter Johnson (called up to Navy, went MIA), Don Whitehead (called up to Navy), Harry Gorham (called up to Marines), Glen Parker (called up to Armed Services), John Stough (drafted to Army), Alex Groza (drafted to Army)
1940’s All-Decade Team: Milt Ticco (1940-43, 5.96ppg), Bob Brannum (1943-47, 7.58 ppg), Alex Groza (1944-49, 14.53 ppg), Ralph Beard (1945-49, 10.91 ppg), Wallace Jones (1945-49, 9.06 ppg), Bill Spivey (1949-52, 19.25 ppg in 49-50)
There were way too many quality legends in the 1940’s to keep that list to just five players. Bill Spivey only played one season in the 1940’s, but that season was enough to get him on the list. Luckily, there were a lot of quality names, too.
1940’s All-Name Team: Mulford Davis, Wes Cravens (you guys like scary movies?), Singleton Yeary, Chester Duff, Zeb Blankenship, Garland Townes, Guy Strong
You’ll notice a few UK legacy guys who weren’t known for their playing days on the list of 40’s players, too. For example, Joe B. Hall and C.M. Newton.