Phog Allen lobbied for the use of a smaller ball

Phog Allen was an innovative coach. Known by the Kansas media as the ?Kingfish of the Kaw River,? he was not shy about proposing new rules that he felt would improve the game of basketball.

It brings to mind an interesting story about Coach Allen and a mathematics professor from the Jayhawks other rival, the Missouri Tigers.

After the 1940 season, a year in which KU would lose the national championship game to Indiana, Allen publicly bemoaned the low-scoring games that were prevalent around the country. In a word, he felt the game was rather ?dull? and suggested that to increase scoring all college teams should adopt the use of a smaller ball.

That, in his mind, would certainly increase the points scored in each game and also would help make the game more exciting to watch and play.

Many coaches around the country shared Allen?s sentiments, but using new basketballs was quite a pricey endeavor. Money was still tight around the country. Not only was the Depression still being felt in 1940, but a certain war in Europe was inching ever closer to the United States shore line. More and more resources were being used to increase the production of war related materials. New basketballs were not on that list and the idea of the smaller basketball died a rather quick death.

Missouri mathematics professor George Edwards had another idea: larger rims. He in fact conducted an experiment. Edwards had 14 players shoot a total of 3,500 shots (250 for each man) at a standard-sized rim and then shoot the same number of shots at a larger rim.

The result: 2,017 shots were made on the larger rim while 1,731 were made on the smaller rims.

What was accomplished? Nothing in terms of major rule changes but perhaps the ?Mathematical Tiger? from Missouri let Phog Allen know that his rivals in Columbia also knew a thing or two about the game of basketball. It?s just another remarkable story from the basketball courts of Kansas Hoopla.


Ideas questions and comments: Contact ? 2010 by Steven Michael Farney. All rights reserved.

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