Friday, February 5, 2010

Phog Allen protege list goes on


When a list of basketball coaching proteges of Kansas’ Phog Allen is recited, you’re quick to hear the names of Adoph Rupp (Kentucky), Dean Smith (North Carolina), Ralph Miller (Iowa-Oregon State), Dutch Lonborg (Northwestern) and Dick Harp (Kansas).

Yet two of Doc’s most accomplished students can get lost in the shuffle — Frosty Cox (Colorado-Montana) and John Bunn (Stanford, Springfield, Colorado State). That’s too bad.

Bunn became a key contributor to basketball after playing 1918-20 under Phog at Kansas and serving as his assistant from 1921-30. John took over at Stanford in 1930 and coached the immortal Hank Luisetti, whose unique one-handed shot was developed into probably the best offensive weapon in the game’s history. After Stanford, Bunn coached at Springfield College and Colorado State.

Bunn was chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame 1949-63 and in ’64 was inducted into the hall of fame as a major contributor. Wrote six books. The hall annually presents an award in his name.

As Springfield coach, Bunn brought a team here in 1950 and startled spectators with his unique game uniform — the same warmups as his team. Still, it wasn’t as goofy as the policy of Penn football coach George Munger, who prowled the Quaker sideline in full grid regalia, shoulder pads and all.

Forrest “Frosty” Cox starred here 1929-31 and earned a captaincy while earning All-Big Six and All-America honors in ’30 and ’31. Frosty was a hard-nosed coach whose physical defensive philosophy was “a basket saved is a basket earned.” He headed the Colorado University program from 1936-50 and guided his teams to a 7-4 advantage over the Jayhawks of mentor Phog Allen.

Cox’s record at CU was 147-89, darn good for a period when few considered basketball of much merit in the mountains. He won four league titles and got the Buffaloes into three NCAA Tournaments. One of his stars in the late 1930s was Whizzer White, also a Heisman Trophy football player of note who became a mainstay on the U.S. Supreme Court. During Cox’s reign, Jack Harvey became the first Buff ever to be named All-America.

Bear in mind that the NCAA Tournament hadn’t even been born when Cox led his CU team to the 1938 finals of the National Invitation Tournament, which ruled the collegiate roost at the time. The dating in the Buffs’ 1940 season is surprising because the NCAA was up and running, and Kansas reached the finals against Indiana. Yet two tourneys for CU.

On March 15, 1940, Cox’s Coloradoans walloped Duquesne to win the coveted NIT title. You could go both ways, and CU was invited to the NCAA Tournament. CU lost to mighty Southern Cal in Kansas City while Kansas was disposing of Rice. Next round, KU upset USC and later fell to Indiana in the ’40 title game.

Bad news for Phog, good news for Frosty in their first NCAA showdown in 1942. CU edged KU, 46-44. Champion Stanford then beat Colorado, 46-35, en route to the collegiate title.

Cox left CU for Montana after the 1950 season, and Bebe Lee and Sox Walseth followed as coaches.

But again, what a fabulous heritage KU can boast. Bunn tutored Luisetti, Frosty Cox coached Whizzer White, had countless successes, and both got their college tutelage under Phog at Kansas.

Kentucky and Carolina, eat your hearts out! Who dat school gonna top KU!


Kent Wells 11 years, 8 months ago

OK, who wrote the last paragraph?!?!?

Who dat! Very hip Mr. Mayer...

100 11 years, 8 months ago

Still remember my wife & I taking my birthday son (21st) down to a Ted Owens coached KU regional game in the late 70's, where unfortunately we got beat. The thing that had us cracking up was the LSU fans who were there early during our game screaming at the top of their lungs, "Who Dat talkin bout beatin Dem Tigaaas, who Dat... Who Dat!!!"

we were laughing so hard we could barely cheer for KU!!!!

Jayhacker 11 years, 8 months ago

Frosty Cox was a 2-time all-American...any consideration for jersey retirement?

dynamitehawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Frosty Cox and his ballers are coming to town.

MinnesotaJay 11 years, 8 months ago

'Frosty' is a pretty good name for a coach out in snow country.

Thanks for the good info, Bill. The Phog tree is tall, and it is broad, although a couple of the branches (UNC/UK) could use a little pruning.

Ron_Kellogg 11 years, 8 months ago

Good to see John Bunn finally get some pub! I've been saying for years now, perhaps decades, that he's one of the most under-appreciated coaches in college basketball history. Mayer has written the article for which true basketball fans have been clamoring.

Mike Kendall 11 years, 8 months ago

I love basketball history, Bill. Good stuff!

Rob Keeney 11 years, 8 months ago

100, wasn't that the game vs Wichita St in the Superdome? LSU played Arkansas...1981 IIRC.

Kenneth Johnson 11 years, 8 months ago


You could also add to the list: 1) George Rody, who played at KU 1920-22, and later coached at Tulane. 2) Charlie T. Black, who played at KU 1922-24, All-American, and starred on KU's two national championships, and later coached at Grinnell and Nebraska.

Ken Johnson (MS KU '70)

jaybate 11 years, 8 months ago

Frosty Cox? In Colorado and Montana?

What about Snowy Johnson, Sleet Wanger, Icy Schwanz and Dick Frost?

These guys are all lesser known proteges up there, too, aren't they? :-)

100 11 years, 8 months ago


that's right it was 1981 I had the year off by a couple years & the guard I was remembering might have been Tyke Peacock... It's been awhile I'll have to look it up.

Thanks for the correction -- a bit embarrassing to lose to Wichita State in the tourney, we played awful, Who Dat!

ChicagoJHawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Wow, Bill Mayer actually wrote a good artice!! He didn't switch from one topic to another and didn't say anything negative about KU. I'll have to mark this in my calendar! Well, he did end off with, "Who dat school gonna top KU!", but I can live with that.

dynamitehawk 11 years, 8 months ago

I heard that MC Frosty Cox and DJ Salty Nutz were playing on Mass this weekend.

Michael Leiker 11 years, 8 months ago

I would love to see a Phog Allen coaching tree...I think our minds would be blown. Has anyone ever seen anything like that?

Benjamin Clay Jones 11 years, 8 months ago

jaybate, you forgot the most obvious one of all--Tex Winter!

Tony Bandle 11 years, 8 months ago

Don't forget Black Ice Bobson, Hail N. Hardy and Avalanche Allenston

OmaHawk88 11 years, 8 months ago

Maxhawk, the other NBA player for Wichita State was Antoine Carr. Not at all embarrassing to lose to a team with that much talent.

Great article, Bill. Keep 'em coming.

Steve Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

Frosty Cox retired to South Beach up early each day for the sun rise.

Steve Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

didn't we have coaches at Western Ky or West Virg.

Gale Catlett where did he coach? Turgeon at A&M .

Yes, the full Kansas coach tree would be a sight to see. 7 degrees of James Naismith.

Steve Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

Wichita State game, water under bridge now, yet Darnell Valentive was fouled hard to the floor on last in bound play and wasn't called. oh well.

ku_foaf 11 years, 8 months ago


That '81 Wichita State team had Anton Carr & Cliff Levingston - the following season they added Greg Dreiling (before he transferred to KU) & Xavier McDaniel. They were ranked #1, but ran into some NCAA trouble. It seemed like a really bad loss at the time. That was the only decent KU team in the 4 years ('79-83) I was there!

I don't remember Tyke Peacock playing in '81 (not that that means he didn't!) but he played in '82. Darnell Valentine was on the '81 team.

11 years, 8 months ago

Nice find, 10point8.

“Ronnie Chalmers, no longer the son of a KU player after Mario declares early for the NBA draft, vacates the Director of Basketball Operations position.”

I didn’t know Mario had a son, especially one named Ronnie. Would his son technically be a Junior, or would that not be the case since a generation was skipped? I wonder if little Ronnie worked in the same capacity at KU as his namesake grandfather? So many unanswered questions from that blog…

Rob Keeney 11 years, 8 months ago

Valentine was run over when he set a pick on the inbounds play. He even told the ref before the play what to expect.

We had great seats at the FT line behind the KU bench. I can't imagine what the view from that 3rd level was like.

100 11 years, 8 months ago


It's still Wichita State. Yes they had a better team than us, c'mon a little tongue & cheek here.

OK, good game Wichita State, you were better than us.

And we were not embarrassed to lose to you because we were to busy laughing at the LSU fans...

Who Dat!

swmojayhawker 11 years, 8 months ago

John Bunn actually coached at Colorade State College not the Colorado State that we are familiar with today. Colorado State College is now known as Northerrn Colorado University and is now coached by another KU grad. Colorado State College/ Northern Colorado University is located in Greeley and Colorado State University is located in Ft. Collins.

jaybate 11 years, 8 months ago


Catlett: UCinn, then West Virginia.

jaybate 11 years, 8 months ago

The big question in the coaching tree, as always, is: what coaches did Ralph Miller begat? Miller's begats are who we should be studying to see what became of the Allen game?

Miller coached for years at Wichita State, then for many years at Oregon State. I don't know who his assistants were at either place and which one's, if any, moved on to become head coaches.

Anyone know.

100 11 years, 8 months ago


Yes Maxhawk is straightening me out. Darnell mustve been a senior that year. I've always had it locked into my brain that he was gone after the 1980 for some reason, I suppose because of Carter's decision to stay away from China. But alas he was a Jayhawk great for 4 years, leaving one year before the NCAA tourney went HUGE with Jordan's shot in '82 (although the '79 Magic-Bird game ratcheted it up as did the '57 shoulda been ours Chamberlain 3OT heartbreaker, which is by many still considered the greatest game ever played).

By the way considering all of this tradition Mayer is pulling out of his large intestines, it might be intersting to note that Dean Smith made sure Jordans first game would be against, who else? The Kansas Jayhawks. And while we're on the topic. Steve Nash played us twice. Lost both times (once by 30 points or so) sending him to the NBA in his final game. Dwanye Wade got drilled by KU by 40 points in his last game sending him to the NBA. Kevin Durant? Played him twice. Beat him twice. Lamarcus Aldrich? Played him twice. Beat him twice. Jason Kidd? Played him once. Beat him. Shaquille ONeil? Played him once. Spanked him badly. Rajon Rondo? Played him twice. Beat him twice. Chris Paul? Played him once. Beat that gluteus Maximus!

Who Dat!

To any current players reading this, it's not an individual game boys, unless its horse... Team ball wins at KU everytime!!!!

But back to Valentine: I always thought Valentine's legacy would have been so much bigger if he wouldve lead us to the Gold medal. He had already been named a starter for that team before we backed out of the games.

Who Dat!

Steve Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

Who's the best coach off the Kansas vine?

James, Doc, Adolph, Ralph, Dean, Gale, Calimari, Larry, Ted, Roy, Bill, Turg not done yet, some pretty tall timber. I know I"m missing quite a few....

One of the very best from the KU vine had the skin color that didn't allow in his time to coach in 'white' schools back when that stuff mattered. Here's tribute to one of our very best......

John B. McLendon

Enshrined 1979 HOF Hiawatha, KS April 5, 1915 - October 8, 1999


With an engaging personality and pleasant demeanor, an extraordinary knowledge of basketball history, and a coaching resume that made many in the profession envious, John McLendon was one of the game's leading ambassadors for more than 60 years. McLendon, who learned basketball from James Naismith as an undergraduate at Kansas, is the first coach in history to win three consecutive national titles. McLendon's teams featured superior conditioning, a patented fast break offense, and an aggressive in-your-face defensive attitude. A spokesman for heightened awareness of basketball at all-black colleges, McLendon also helped initiate an era of integrated basketball. McLendon's well-rounded coaching background included positions at the collegiate, AAU, and professional level.

milehighhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Glad to see it didn't take too long to get a Frosty Cox joke.

Nice work, guys.

Mike Kendall 11 years, 8 months ago

100point8---Boy, that just doesn't surprise me--Kentucky really reaching here. If by chance we do play Kentucky, it's a no win situation this season. If we win, Kentucky fans will say that we're a bunch of cheaters. Of course, if we lose, then they'll say, "you deserve what you get, you cheaters!" So, the bottom line: It could get really ugly!

Chuckberry32--What's your take on this link to Kentucky's claims? I know you have an opinion on this.

KANSTUCKY 11 years, 8 months ago

Most Kentucky fans are happy with what they have right now and are hoping they can get to the NC game before it all gets taken away. The vast majority aren't smart enough to know any better. But don't worry, when "it" hits the fan, the decor of the room will match the current stench, or at least the Wall.

Martin Rosenblum 11 years, 8 months ago

Some day in the not so distant future, Danny Manning's name shouldl be included in a similar discussion.

The question is, shouldn't he venture out and be a head coach in a mid-major or D2 school and come back to KU with some HC experience? Or, will being under HCBS for probably 10+ years qualify him to take over the reins? Or, does he even want to be a head coach?

Blake Post 11 years, 8 months ago

Maxhawk, you are slightly mistaken. The stars of that WSU team in 1981 were Cliff Levingston and Antoine Carr. Other players were Jay Johnson, Charlie Brent, Bob Trogele, I believe. I don't think Xavier McDaniel was starting yet. The next game was a shame as the gueards of WSU could not handle the speed of LSU guards. KU would have matched up far differently with LSU. Another shame was that the true center of the WSU team, Ozell Jones, was ruled ineligible for that year. With him, I doubt anyone would have beaten them. Brent was injured for the LSU game, so he was slowed. That type of thing kills. Remember KU-AZ in 97?

The coaching tree of KU is the most impressive thing in all of sports. From Phog on down. All that followed him, Rupp, D. Smith, including Larry Brown and Roy Williams, and that were mentored by the first ones and so on... which means the successes of NC and UK just add to our legacy as long as there is a coach in that tree. I don't know about UK right now. They are the nemesis and must be dealt a fatal blow. The foundation is being laid for one of those monumental games if they don't trip and meet in the championship.

swjhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Gale Catlett, an assistant at KU, coached West Virginia for many years.

captku 11 years, 8 months ago

100, foaf, I like the bringing back Tyke Peacock from the past. I was not at KU yet, but recall that that guy had serious ups. If I'm not mistaken, he was also a track star as a 7' high jumper, and could really bounce. My brother and I later would refer to Darrin Hancock, also a high-riser, in jest as "Tyke Hancock". Some very gifted leapers indeed. Wonder who would make that Top 10 list. I would guess these 2 to be in the mix.

100 11 years, 8 months ago


yep Tyke & Wilt were our two famous 7 foot high jumpers. Of course Tyke was 6 feet tall & Wilt was 7'1" with a ridiculous wingspan!

I imagine Darrin Hancock with some training could have been a 7 foot high jumper as well, but instead put his passion into posterizing other teams with ridiculous dunks...

Commenting has been disabled for this item.