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Eddie Sutton thought “taking a charge” was greatest play in basketball

Roger Harden with former UK coach Eddie Sutton.


One thing every player at Kentucky knew about coach Eddie Sutton was that defense was a priority for playing time.

“However, the brilliance of coach Sutton was that he could motivate you to play defense and you didn’t even realize it,” former UK point guard Roger Harden said. “Our very first practice he talked about taking a charge. He thought that was the greatest play in the game of basketball because you were willing to sacrifice your body for the team.

“He convinced us to enjoy playing defense. He would really praise you if you played great defense and you didn’t want to disappoint coach. He was just a brilliant defensive coach but later he said one of his greatest regrets was that he was always a straight man-to-man coach and he should have played more zone at times earlier in his coaching career.”

And guess when one of those times was?

“He said if we had zoned LSU the last two minutes (of the 1986 Elite Eight loss) when they were backdooring us that we might have been national champion,” Harden said. “He was always very humble if he made a mistake and he told us he made a mistake not doing that (playing zone against LSU).”

Kentucky beat LSU twice during the season and again in the SEC Tournament before losing in the NCAA Elite Eight in Atlanta.

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