One of the exciting things about Kentucky Basketball is the rich history each Wildcat team brings to the floor with them as they play. So while we are waiting for a new season to begin, let’s jump back in time to the era of Joe B. Hall. (The middle initial was added to make the name more interesting, according to the coach)
This particular event took place one night prior to the start of a home game. The names you will recognize as part of the legend and lore of Wildcat basketball, the event, you may not be so familiar with.
On this particular evening, the Kentucky star Kevin Grevey, had missed curfew. Although he was the leading scorer on the team, Coach Hall made the call that he would not start. The starting job that night would go to Steve Lochmueller. Steve had a great work ethic, a big body, and eventually would play football for the Cats. Later he would become the Athletic Director at Eastern Kentucky University.
During game preparation, the team was chatting and getting ready, forgetting that their locker room was connected to the adjacent room where the coaches were meeting by an air duct. This allowed the noise from one room to carry over into the next. As usual, the coaches were busy going over the game strategy for the evening when they heard a booming voice coming through the air vent from the player’s locker room.
The voice sounded like UK broadcaster Cawood Ledford, but it really was the voice of the new starter Lochmueller doing his best Cawood imitation….
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! This is Cawood Ledford coming to you from Memorial Coliseum as the University of Kentucky Wildcats take on the Auburn Tigers for supremacy in the Southeastern Conference. There is standing room only here in Memorial Coliseum. The fire marshal has turned his head while the largest crowd ever has assembled in this building. The atmosphere is electric! You can feel it in the air as it raises the hair on the back of your neck.
“Now the teams are coming onto the floor! The starters for Kentucky tonight are Ronnie Lyons and Mike Flynn – guards; Bob Guyette – center; and the forwards Jimmy Dan Conner and the pride of Tell City, Indiana, six foot six Steeeeeeve Lochmueller!
“We are ready to start! The official tosses the ball and Guyette gets the tip, tosses it to Mike Flynn, who calls a time out! And – in comes Grevey!”
Lochmueller understood his role on the team and he knew it wouldn’t take long before Coach Hall would bring Grevey into the game. But for fans that night, that lineup was surely a surprise. For the UK coaching staff, who heard the adlibbed start to the game through the air vent, they too were surprised and cracked up laughing as they listened. It created a memorable moment and the unexpected surprises made the benching of a starter a little bit easier to handle. (As a side note – Grevey did remain on the bench a little bit longer than the Lochmueller prediction)
You never know when you might be asked to do the unexpected, when you might be asked to step in and fill in for someone else. You might be asked to step up in a tough situation and do something that you may or may not feel ready to do. When those moments come, they are a surprise, but you have to choose to do what you know you can do – give your best. When you do, you never know what might happen next.
You might just be creating a memory that will last a lifetime. The Wildcat team mentioned in this story gave us a lot of great memories along with Coach Joe B. Hall. We are all looking forward to a new season beginning and the new memories to be made.
(This account based on story recalled in Coach Hall-My Life on and off the Court, University of Kentucky Press, 2019)