RUPP’S RUNTS 1965-66 MENS BASKETBALL NCAA RUNNER -UP
This team coached by the legendary Adolph Rupp and was one of the most popular teams he coached. The team was a winner and had two starters from Kentucky. They won the SEC Championship (15-1) losing only to their bitter rival Tennessee 69-62 at Tennessee. Their overall record was 27-2 losing in the NCAA finals to Texas Western now (UTEP) 72-65. The Texas Western Miners were the first team to start five black players in a NCAA Final game. This entire team was later inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“Rupp’s Runts achieved this name due to their center, Thad Jaracz and guard Tommy Kron being only 6 ft-5 inches. The starters were seniors Larry Conley and Tommy Kron, juniors Pat Riley and Louie Dampier, and sophomore Thad Jaracz. The entire team averaged in double figures, being lead by Pat Riley with 22.0 per game average. Pat also led in rebounding with an 8.9 average. Rupp’s Runts won 27 games by an average of 18 points over their opponents. They had one overtime game at Georgia, which they won by 4 points. They settled the score 26 days later, beating Georgia by 24 in Memorial Coliseum.
Starting guard, senior Larry Conley came to the University Kentucky from Ashland. Larry was a key player on the 1961 Ashland Tomcat team that won the Kentucky State Tournament and led his Tomcats to the runner –up finish in the 1962 Kentucky High School State Tournament. Larry was a Parade All-American and a Kentucky All-State player, twice. Larry was a great passer and had 293 assist in his UK career. He averaged 11.5 points per game the 1965-66 season. Larry Conley had a very successful career as a sports broadcaster.
Starting center, Thad Jaracz was a local star, playing for the Lafayette Generals who dominated Fayette County in the 60’S. Thad was a sophomore and the team’s 3rd leading scorer averaging 13.2 points per game. Thad was selected on the Associated Press All American team, earning third team honors. Thad was drafted after his college career by NBA Boston Celtics and ABA Kentucky Colonels. Thad did not play for either team but entered into a military career.
Starting forward, Tommy Kron was a senior in the 1965-1966 season and averaged 10.2 points per game. He played high school basketball at Tell City, Indiana. He led his Tell City teams to 4 Sectional titles and 3 Regional titles while in high school. Tom was named All-State and an Indiana All-Star in 1962. The St. Louis Hawks drafted Tom in 1966. He later played for Seattle SuperSonics for 2 seasons before joining his former teammate Louie Dampier with the Kentucky Colonels in the ABA. Bladder cancer claimed the life of Tommy Kron at age 64, on November 29, 2007. He is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.
Starting guard Louie Dampier was only 6 ft. 0 but could shoot the basketball. During his 3 years he scored 1575 points, freshmen were ineligible to play varsity sports. During the 1965-66 season Dampier averaged 21.1 points per game. Louie Dampier was from Indianapolis, Indiana and played high school basketball at Southport High School. At the University of Kentucky he was named All-American two times and three times All-Southeastern Conference. Louie Dampier was named Academic All-SEC twice and Academic All-American once. The University of Kentucky honored Louie Dampier by hanging his jersey #10 in Rupp Arena.
Dampier’s professional career was with the Kentucky Colonels 1967-1976. When the ABA ceased operations, Louie had spent his entire career with the Colonels, scoring 794 3-point field goals and finishing first in games played 728. He hit 57 consecutive free throws during the 1970-71 season, which at that time was a pro record ABA or NBA. Dampier finished his professional career with the San Antonio Spurs 1976-1979 averaging 6.7 points per game in 232 games as a role player. Louie Dampier was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 12, 2015.
Junior forward, Pat Riley came to UK from Linton High School in Schenectady, New York. The most memorial event in his high school career, other than being a great basketball player, was the 74-68 victory over New York City’s Power Memorial High School. This team had a great player, Lew Alcindor (who became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Pat Riley later became his coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Pat Riley led the 1965-66 Rupp’s Runts the entire season averaging 22.0 points per game and pulling down 8.9 rebounds per game. He was First Team All-SEC, All-NCAA Tournament Team, NCAA Regional Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, and AP Third Team All-American. Although Kentucky fell to Texas Western in the 1966 NCAA Title game, the University later honored Pat Riley by retiring his jersey #42 and hanging it in Rupp Arena.
Pat Riley was drafted by the San Diego Rockets in 1967 and played in the NBA for the Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and retiring in 1976 with the Western Conference Champions, Phoenix Suns. His career scoring average is 7.4 points per game and 41.4% field goal average.
Pat Riley’s accomplishments are numerous, some being, Member of the NBA 1972 Championship Lakers Team as a player, 5 time NBA Championship Coach, 3 time NBA coach of the year, 9 time All-Star Game Coach, and Top 10 Coaches in NBA History. Pat was also NBA Champion Assistant Coach in 1980.
As an executive in the NBA, Pat Riley’s teams have won 3 championships. Pat was also named executive of the year in 2011. Pat Riley was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Pat Riley now has many interest including music, writing and publishing books and motivational speaking.