LDN: Coach Kaye, I'm Jeff Mayfield and
I represent the other newspaper in Lincoln and I want to
NK: The other paper. I heard
that you guys were even a daily. Is that true?
LDN: Yes, we are.
LDN: First, of all congratulations on
the induction of your team. That is quite an honor.
NK: Thank you.
LDN: As you reflect back on that
1961-62 team, did you see it coming? Did you know that the team
would be that good?
NK: Yes. They were all returnees, and
during the middle of that season I picked up Bobby Miller from
Atlanta, who was like the glue - I used to call him. Before the
season we were fortunate to pick up Tommy Zurkammer, who is now a
Lincoln College provost, from Lincoln High School. That gave us a
team with a very flexible six men. I knew that team was gonna be
And I'll share this story with you. We
were down in Flat River, Mo., playing Southern Illinois' freshmen
team, because in those days freshmen were not eligible for the
varsity. That was for the championship of the junior college
tournament, and we beat them even though they had Walt Frazier on
that team. After the game I was being interviewed by the press, and
a friend who had helped me drive the team down there said that the
players want to know when you are gonna come into the locker room to
congratulate them, because they were all excited that we were
playing that well in February. I said, "Tell them I'll be in in
May!" I wasn't gonna pre-empt the future. That is a true story that
I have really never told outside of a couple friends. It supports
your question as to whether I saw it coming.
LDN: Tell us more about the season and
the playoff run.
NK: Of course, you have to have
wonderful breaks along the way in a successful tournament run.
At the sub-regional against Canton in
Pekin a week before the regional, we were down 18 at half, and Bobby
Miller hit six free throws in a row to win that game.
We then went up to Joliet and played
LaSalle-Peru, which had about 3,500 students, and we beat them
[to top of second column in
That advanced us to a game with Wright
College out of Chicago that was coached by an ex-Chicago Bulls'
assistant, Ed Badger. We were one down with about 45 seconds to go
and their star player was advancing the ball down the court. He
dribbled and then stopped and saw his teammate go back-door. He
released it like he was gonna pass it, one of our players got into
the passing lane, the ball hit the floor, and the guy just picked it
back up. I was up because that's a double dribble. Fortunately, the
guy, Ed Fruen, who was a Big Ten official -- and I was up because I
knew that it was a double, but it's gotta be called -- and he called
it (ed. note: I wonder if that official is still available, as we
understand the Big Ten has some vacancies to fill). Bobby Miller
scored on a play, and we won that game in thrilling fashion.
We then played Wilson Junior College
for the championship, and they had between 15,000 and 18,000
students. What was unique about that game was that I had played for
Wilson back in the '40s. We won the state but had no money to go to
nationals. We had quite an outstanding group. The guy that was
coaching Wilson was my former teammate. Most people did not make
that connection. And a guy watching the game was our former coach.
After the game, which we won by 13 points (ed. note: Isn't it
amazing how former coaches can remember so many details?), which was
phenomenal because they were a huge team and we were kinda small. My
former teammate Arnie said, "Norm I just can't believe your team
could run like that," and our former coach, Charlie, smacked him on
the arm and said, "Did you play with Norm or did you not play with
story that I don't think I have ever told is when I took the job at
Lincoln I talked to my former coach. Charlie, back in the '40s and
beyond, knew Adolph Rupp and all the other big names in basketball.
My coach was a great guy, and he said, "I have a bit of advice for
you." I said, "Coach, you've taught me a lot. What is your advice?"
He said, "Don't expect your players to play to the level of
intensity that you played." I looked at him and said, "Sorry, Coach.
I do expect that."
for Part 2 -- the trip to nationals in Hutchinson, Kan., including
more Logan County players mentioned by Coach Kaye.)