Kentucky Basketball: Ranking the 5 Biggest Blunders in Wildcats History
The history of Kentucky basketball is filled with championships, All-Americans, wins and unforgettable moments.
On the other hand, in the Wildcats' past exists an equally memorable list of blunders leading to missing the postseason, bad coaching hires and bad coaching decisions.
We'll take a look at the five biggest blunders in Kentucky's history, both on the court and off.
5. Pitino Elects Not to Guard Grant Hill
It was the greatest game ever played. No, seriously, there was a book written about this game calling it just that.
Still, that doesn't let Rick Pitino get off the hook.
As I'm sure many Kentucky fans are yelling right now: Guard the inbounder!
Pitino elected not to and the rest is history. Instead of having someone run the baseline with his hands up to not allow Grant Hill an easy view down the court, he decided to have five players in the front court.
Is it possible Hill still completes the pass to Laettner and he makes the shot? Sure. However, it's a lot less likely it happens and Kentucky moves on to the Final Four.
It might be the greatest game ever played, just don't tell Big Blue Nation what happens at the end.
4. Kentucky Costs Itself Another Title
In what was a terrible trend of the early-1950's, Kentucky got caught up in a point shaving scandal. Due to its part of a point shaving scandal, Kentucky was forced to miss the 1952-53 season.
Alex Groza, Bill Spivey and Ralph Beard were the three big-name players that were part of the scandal and while never convicted, Groza and Beard were banned from the NBA for life.
However, in 1954 Kentucky bounced back to a 25-0 record and a No. 1 ranking in the polls. But, in protest of the NCAA's decision, Adolph Rupp decided to hold his team out of the 1954 NCAA tournament, likely costing Kentucky a national championship.
The decision stemmed from the NCAA's decision to say three players on the team were ineligible to play in the postseason because they graduated at the conclusion of the previous academic year.
3. Kentucky Hires Billy Gillispie
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Billy Gillispie. Oof. Where to start with the disaster that was his tenure at Kentucky.
Should we start with losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament during his first season? Or should we begin with missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in almost 20 years during his second season?
Oh, there was also the drunk driving.
But we can't forget about him making a player sit in a bathroom stall during halftime speeches, then making the same player ride home on the equipment van.
Kentucky fans can sit back and think what would history be like if they hired John Calipari two years earlier, or what would two more years of Tubby Smith have been like.
Despite only being two years, it was a big black eye on arguably the best program in college basketball.
2. Kentucky Shame
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As respected the 1991-92 team is in Lexington, we have to remember that it could not have happened without the biggest blunder and scandal in Kentucky's history.
That scandal is the famous Emery Worldwide envelope that included $1,000 cash addressed to the father of star-recruit Chris Mills from Eddie Sutton's assistant coach Dwayne Casey.
The NCAA threatened Kentucky with the death penalty if it didn't clean its program up. In order to avoid the death penalty and show progress toward a cleaner program both Sutton and athletic director Cliff Hagan were fired.
Along with it was a cover on Sports Illustrated with an iconic line that read 'Kentucky Shame'.
1. Glory Road
In all fairness to Adolph Rupp, he was one of the first coaches in both the ACC and SEC to have an African-American player on his roster.
However, Rupp was commonly known as a racist and refused to allow any black players until after a certain event happened.
Kentucky entered the game as the all-white team, but, more importantly, as an undefeated team and No. 1 in the country.
Texas Western was the all-black team and no slouch itself at 27-1 and the No. 3 team in the country.
Texas Western would go on to win the game 72-65 and shatter the idea that an all-black team couldn't win in the NCAA.
Kentucky would go down as losing arguably the most important game in college basketball's history and further making people believe Rupp was a southern white racist.
Sophomore Tom Payne became the first African-American to play at Kentucky and in the SEC during the 1970-71 season as Rupp integrated the program.