Fred Russell


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Nashville Banner's Fred Russell's article reprinted in the College Heights Herald about a savage game played before a crowd reported at 5,345, the most fans ever to see a game in WKU's gym to that time.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article by FRED RUSSELL, which appeared in the Nashville BANNER of Thursday, February 5, is reprinted here in response to popular demand. That edition, containing the ace sports writer's column devoted to the Hilltoppers, was quickly sold out in Kentucky, and many requests for it have been received at the Western publicity office. The same edition carried a feature story on Oran McKinney by DUDLEY GREEN, BANNER sports writer, illustrated with cartoons by the internationally famous New York cartoonist, PAP.


Less than two hours from Nashville - even on a foggy night - there is presented as a standard dish, some of the fastest college basketball in America.

Many a home in Bowling Green, Ky., moved up supper to around 5 p.m. yesterday, for out on the hill at the edge of town the season's No. 1 attraction was scheduled. Roughly, only the first 5,000 could get into the gym.

By use of a shoehorn here and a mallet there, they did squeeze in 5,331 for Western Kentucky's return battle with Bowling Green, O., the only team to have beaten the Hilltoppers this year. A solid circle of hanging feet ribboned the running track long before either squad appeared for its warmup. Extra chairs were pushed in almost to the boundary lines.

The crack Western band and the cheer leaders paced by the rhythmic Cook twins, had the place bouncing. No Vanderbilt-Tennessee football clash ever ignited per capita excitement.

Frills and Fanfare

Basketball at Western Kentucky isn't just a game. It's a production.

About three minutes before starting time, the lights were turned off. A spotlight was trained on the near-middle of the floor and one by one, the head coach, the assistant coach and the visiting players were presented, trotting from the bench as each name was called to form a single file facing the center jump spot.

Then, at their cue, the Western squad, headed by Coach Ed Diddle and Assistant Coach Ted Hornback, dashed out in a body as the roof by actual measurement, lifted 2 3/8 inches from the volley of cheers. They faced their opponents in another single line. Officials Hickman Duncan of Nashville and John Dromo of Louisville stood near the center.

Two ROTC officers marched to the exact middle of the court. A frame was lowered from the ceiling. Into it they inserted the United States Flag. The band struck "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the flag moved slowly upward.

The instant that was over, on went the lights and the Western student body broke into a rafter-rattling school song so rousing that the starting players seemed to rock just a bit.

Western Worthy of High Rating

Tied eight times during the first half, the outcome in doubt, until the last five minutes, loaded with slick team and individual play, it was one of the very best basketball games I have ever seen.

Western undoubtedly deserves the No. 3 national rating which Dr. Litkenhous accords it. Many believe that it might clip University of Kentucky or any college five in the nation.

Don (Duck) Ray, the Goodlettsville goodie, is a tough boy with that virtually unguardable fall-away shot. Dee Gibson is a prime feeder. Odie Spears and John Oldham form a true pair of steadies, and rugged Oran McKinney had his best night. Don't think the Bowling Greeners from Ohio were any soft touches. Their center Charles Share, at 6-10 is the best tall cager I've seen lately.

Big League

Old Ed Diddle, now tossing a red towel into the air every time his team scores, has done more than build a top basketball team at Western Kentucky. he and his staff have erected a truly wonderful spirit.

The ovation given Share when he left the game in the last four minutes must have thrilled him. I've never witnessed such a demonstration for an opposing player.

Regular game-goers tell me that the Western student body is the same losing as in winning, though the opportunities to show such generosity are rare. It's a fine thing built up over a long period of years.

Impressive, too, is the excellent organization all down the line at Western. The above-capacity crowd was handled with a minimum of difficulty.

Kelly Thompson, assistant to the president of the college, is big leaguer in his directions of press and radio accomodations.

A Rumor

Nashvillians in position to relieve our town's incredibly poor basketball facilities should see some games at Bowling Green. Only in that way could they begin to realize basketball's place in today's sports picture.


Western Kentucky University, Athletics, Helm-Cravens Library (WKU), Health & Physical Education Building (WKU), Basketball


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