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Book on 1978 championship team should be fun read

Jack Givens and his 1978 national championship teammates will soon be featured in a book by Doug Brunk that I know I'll want.

Jack Givens and his 1978 national championship teammates will soon be featured in a book by Doug Brunk that I know I’ll want.


We are only two years away from the 40th anniversary of Kentucky’s 1978 national championship team. Trust me, that’s hard for me to fathom because I was not much older than some of the players on that team when the Wildcats won that year.

Still, I have to admit I am already excited about a book about that 1977-78 team that former UK All-American Jack Givens told me about that is being written by Doug Brunk, a Wilmore native who now lives in California.

Brunk has already written one book about UK basketball — “Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories from Kentucky Basketball Greats” — that featured stories and personal essays from Joe Hall, Kyle Macy, Tubby Smith, Dan Issel, Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, Patrick Patterson and John Wall.

“It’s really going to be a good book,” Givens said. “The University of Kentucky has commissioned him to write this book. Every guy on our team will be represented in the book. The book is going to be unbelievable.”

Brunk said he is “about 90 percent” done with the book and publication hopefully will be the fall of 2017 or early 2018 by University Press of Kentucky.

“It has been fun,” Brunk said. “I have learned many new things about this team.”

There should be a lot for UK fans to learn about the team that had a little bit of everything with Givens, Macy, Rick Robey, Mike Phillips, Truman Claytor, Jay Shidler and more. Current Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey was also on that team.

Givens said when the book is released, all his teammates will be coming in for autograph sessions and my guess is that UK fans of all ages will want to be part of those sessions, too.


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  1. Very well remember that game as a 18 year old kid. Joe Hall pulled out some tricks in that semifinal game if I’m correct. Go Cats!!!

    1. The trick was to let Goose shoot as much as he wanted through the whole game. During the season it seemed Jack always had one good half and the other half he let the rest of the team develop. But when the big money was on the line Jack did his thing and sliced up Duke like a surgeon. I’ve never seen anyone that could find the right seam like Givens could. He was an amazing player. Too bad his range was limited. Hall loved those mid-range jumpers. He nearly ruined the 75 team trying to make them play that way. But Jack was born to do it.

  2. The real trick was in the opening round against Florida State. Joe Hall was unhappy with the effort being put out in the first half, and put his job on the line by benching the first team at the beginning of the second half in favor of Freddie Cowan, Lavon Williams, etc. Florida State was up by seven at half-time. The tactic worked, and when Robey, Givens, Phillips, Claytor, and Macy hit the floor, the tide turned. They went on to win by about 10 points. If they had lost that game, no doubt Joe Hall would have been fired.

    The semi-final game was against Arkansas led by Sidney Moncrief, Marvin Delph, and Ron Brewer, the triplets. I don’t remember any thing special that Hall pulled in that game, but it was a great game.

  3. Thanks for correcting me TBJ. I do remember this that 74 -75 team made it to the championship game was a special run as we beat them unbeaten Indiana Hoosiers in the regional finals after beating us by 18 earlier in the season.

    1. One of the great games in NCAA history. What made it so sweet for Cat fans was not only breaking their unbeaten string, but the payback for Bobby Knight slapping Joe Hall in the back of the head after the first game.

    2. The Cats really turned things around mid-season that year. They finally started playing the kind of ball they were born to play instead of Hall Ball as it would come to be known. They were the best bunch of shooters I’ve ever seen collected on one team with Grevey, Flynn and Connor shooting bank shots off the top of Memorial with amazing precision. Add the mix of Robey, Phillips, Lee and Givens and that team could play about any style required. They proved it against IU but were sucker punched by maybe the best coaching move I’ve ever seen. John Wooden announced he would retire after the finals game. UK had peaked against the Hoosiers and expected a much easier game. Motivation is a huge part of basketball. Wooden and UCLA proved it that night.

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