For What It's Worth: Small town, Big guys

The Wildcats are one win away from a first-ever trip to the College World Series

The Wildcats are one win away from a first-ever trip to the College World Series (Photo by Mike Mendez / June 9, 2013)

Small towns, big guys

Not that I ever need reminders about what draws me to the Midwest, but if I ever do all I need is to pull into a small town.  I was up in Larned yesterday for a ceremony honoring Gene Keady and was struck by the hospitality of the locals, the pride that they have in their community and their willingness to welcome you into it.  Every Kansas community is unique, but each is defined by familiar core values and a belief system that big cities would do well to emulate.  Thanks Larned.

Coach Keady---

He’s not as irascible as you remember, the scowl is gone, but at 77 years old the intensity of Gene Keady still simmers.  The former Purdue head coach is now an assistant under Steve Lavin at St. John’s.  Keady coached for 25 years in the Big 10 where he won six conference titles and beat Bobby Knight more times than Knight beat him.  He’s part of a Kansas coaching tree that doesn’t get as much attention as others.

 We celebrate the Kansas roots of Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith, Eddie Sutton and Ralph Miller.  Bill Guthridge is from Parsons, Lon Kruger and Mark Turgeon represents the current wave of successful Kansans at the top level of college basketball.  Keady credits his Kansas roots as a big reason for his coaching success, citing the tireless work ethic that Kansans are so noted for.  Beyond that, he talked a lot about the leadership qualities he acquired in the playing of many sports while he was growing up.

Keady laments the specialization of today’s young athlete, he believes that they’re not only missing out on the special skill sets of different sports, but, also the different leadership skills they afford.  Keady was a better football, baseball and track athlete than he was a basketball player.  He played in the NFL with the Steelers before blowing out his knee and the only coaching job he could find when he came back to Kansas in 1959 was coaching basketball at Beloit High School.  Keady was adamant that the skill and traits acquired in other sports made him that much better of basketball coach.  He’s a fascinating guy, it was great to have some time to pick his brain---you can see the results tonight on Sports Sunday.


Is their any more resilient team in the country than K-State? It’s great to see the Wildcat nation all a buzz over a baseball program that, generally, gets little attention.  With last night’s extra inning win at Oregon State the 'Cats are just a win away from their first trip to Omaha.  It’s already been a magical year in Manhattan; I hope ‘Catbackers have enjoyed the ride for it’s a very rare one to be on.

NBA Finals game 2---

The general consensus is that Miami will win game two tonight as the Spurs ease off the pedal satisfied with their road win in game one.  But wouldn’t it stand to reason that the urgency will be heightened with a chance to go up 2-0 against the Heat?  I can’t imagine a Gregg Popovich coached team backing off even for a second.  I’m very interested to see how Miami reacts in such a key moment.  It’s not like the Heat haven’t lost series openers along the way, it’s just that the Spurs are a team that can punish them.

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