Thursday, January 13, 2011

Former KU basketball great Howard Engleman dies


Former Kansas University men’s basketball great Howard “Rope” Engleman died Wednesday in his hometown of Salina. He was 91.

“Kansas lost one of its all-time greats in Howard Engleman,” KU basketball coach Bill Self said Thursday. “Our entire KU family should feel so good and proud of the way he represented us for many years.”

Engleman, who was a letterwinner from 1939-41, earned consensus first-team All-America honors in 1941. He was selected to the 1940 NCAA Final Four all-tournament team after leading the Jayhawks to the championship game in Kansas’ first appearance in the tournament.

The 6-foot Engleman also helped lead KU to Big Six Conference championships in 1940 and 1941.

After graduation, Engleman fought in the Navy in World War II. After returning, he replaced Phog Allen as KU coach for half of the 1946-47 season after Allen was ordered to bed rest. The Jayhawks finished 8-6 under Engleman and 16-11 overall in 1946-47.

Engleman, who was born in Arkansas City, had his No. 5 jersey retired in a ceremony in Allen Fieldhouse on March 1, 2003. His blond, curly hair earned him the nickname "Rope."

Engleman served as a lawyer in Salina after earning his law degree from the KU School of Law.


Christopher Hauser 11 years, 4 months ago

My mother worked for Mr. Engleman and his law firm before returning to her true love of teaching. Mr. Engleman was a giving and honest man as well as a diehard Jayhawk.

100 11 years, 4 months ago

RIP Howard Engleman...

Perhaps one of the shortest forwards we've ever had (6 feet), but man this guy could score. As I recall even with our loss against Indiana in the championship game in 1940 (2nd year of the NCAA tourney), he still led the entire tournament as the leading scorer. The man could play ball, a very soft shot off the backboard, he was crafty with his feet. And though outsized quite often, he would fight for rebounds.

The voting for first team all Americans was a relatively new science at this point, but I believe he was only our 2nd first team selection.

This was a really neat squad just before the war. One of my family's friends played on that team along with freshman Bob Dole who, as it turned out later, had to go to the war with many of the other KU players. Of course Dole never did play varsity being a freshman before he took off & unfortunately a grenade blew up in his hand when he protected his trench by grabbing an enemy grenade, throwing it away from his men just as it exploded, affecting his shooting & writing hand for the rest of his life).

Without that war coming on Phog was building a dynasty.... Lost some steam at that point for the bigger purposes of taking down Hitler, the most evil man Naismith ever met ('36 Olympics) but thanks to the contributions of Howard Engleman & his teammates before the take down of Nazi Germany, the guts of & pride of Jayhawk nation had been firmly replanted in the soul, waiting to be renewed again after Hitler would get burned into hell.

Naismith too was a part of Engleman's past. Naismith had stepped down from KU's staff just a year before Engleman first stepped onto KU's campus, but Naismith was still on campus nearly every day up til his death, living in the end right on the edge of campus, just steps from the Fountain & a stroll down Jayhawk boulevard to see his invention practiced & played at the original Robinson (where Wescoe is currently) the building he designed & led the charge in the Kansas legislature to acquire money for....

Naismith in fact even at the beginning of the Engleman's freshman year, would have been in the gym at a practice or two a week, giving moral support for the Jayhawks & their up & coming new exciting venture into te unknown... The NCAA tournament....

An invention in itself, lobbied for by Phog and Naismith in the mid 30's, to keep the kids away from the troublesome sorts the Kentucky players (actually where Kentucky's problems started with betters) were getting caught up with in the NIT, which was the main tournament back then.

So Engleman, like Phog & Naismith, was one of the good boys. And like Jerrad Hasse... He spilled a lot of blood on the floor.... And like Naismith & Dole & many others across these fine United States, they stood up to Germany (Naismith helping set up camps in WW 1).

How blessed we are as Jayhawk Nation to have had Howard Engleman on our side!


100 11 years, 4 months ago


But now that his time on earth here is finished, resting in peace will be his agenda.... Mostly....

Until it's time to wake up...

[cue: original one shining moment soundtrack]

As the next few weeks pass and we mourn & celebrate a good man lost to a more perfect existence, I do look forward to hearing the thunderous applause from heaven come March & April this year, as Naismith, Phog, Wooden (best Jayhawk concrete pourer E.V.E.R!!!!), Chamberlain & Engleman, watch their gift unfold yet again into another beautiful spring on Jayhawk boulevard....

Your spirit is always alive inside of us Howard Engleman....

Rock Chalk Jayhawk & Godspeed!

gchawk 11 years, 4 months ago

Great post, 100. Thanks for information. My father-in-law played with Mr. Engleman in '39-'40, he truly was a great player and man.

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

Well written and moving. Only one other guy ever made me want to lace them up based on something he wrote or said. John Wooden. And now you. If I were to advise anyone on how to find the way back in order to find the way forward in this legacy, I would tell them 100. Period.

Chris Bailey 11 years, 4 months ago

Wow dude! I'm crying. That was awesome! One of your best posts! I think the Journal World needs to have you write for them. Seriously! I think we could all learn a lot about KU from you and your vast knowledge. Goosebumps, tear drops, and pride are beaming from me as stroke the keys. You truly bleed crimson and blue no other way you could have written with such knowledge and passion about a man who's time on campus time was long over before my Father's Father was even a young man. Thanks 100 for your words. Very moving and very informative. RCJHKU!!!!

Chris Shaw 11 years, 4 months ago

Great stuff 100! I love reading stories like this.

100 11 years, 4 months ago

Thanks KU Shaw & gchawk....

The man was a 6 foot version of Marcus Morris & Jerrad Haas rolled into one...

Also I neglected to be more specific regarding the games back then being at Hoch nearly all the time (which was right next to the original Robinson which was knocked down in the 60's).... At least once I recall a conflict where the game had to be moved next door at Robinson but the excitement over KU basketball had gotten so big by that point in time that they made sure event/sports schedules were not conflicting from that point in time at the house of horrors ...

Jayhawk basketball at that point really had become an epic theater production!

So during Engleman's freshman year before Naismith died, Naismith, after a couple blocks of a walk down Jayhawk boulevard, typically would see Engleman & his boys practicing at Robinson, give them a pep talk and then see the games next door at the house of horrors for the games, still taking stats like a grandpa at a baseball game even in his last year of life....

Chris Shaw 11 years, 4 months ago

Engleman started KU's rich history in the NCAA tournament with a loss to Indiana 60-42 in the 1940 NCAA Championship. Considering the NCAA tournament started in 1939 it's awesome that Engleman lead the Jayhawks in only it's second year. Have to love the rich history of this instituition. You will be missed Mr. Engleman.

Steve Brown 11 years, 4 months ago

The Crimson & Blue is a long line, full of men like this one, some decorated some not, that helped build what we have now. Much appreciated for your service both on and off the court.

Clydecito 11 years, 4 months ago

Thanks 100! The Greatest Generation in more ways than many.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 4 months ago

Looks like we better put the KY wrestling on hold for a while -old school

KansasCity 11 years, 4 months ago

We will miss you dearly Uncle Howard. You were one of the funniest persons I've ever met. Thanks for helping me with my slice.

God Bless

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

This has been an education for me to learn about him from all of you. He was a blind spot in my knowledge of The Legacy. Thank you all.

To the editorial rim, I know writing headlines announcing a death has been debated ad nauseum in journalism, but can I ask you to explain the logic of the above headline to this story. Yes, I know that it is quite likely LJW style to write it this way and that it may well be in agreement with AP style, or whatever.

But what makes most sense to my mind and ear and eye would be this;

Former KU basketball great Howard Engleman died today.

Dying as a a concluding action in a person's life seems always to have happened in the past tense by the time it is reported.

I do not mean to quibble at all. It seems a very important issue.

Perhaps one of the editors here on the rim could explain the logic behind reporting it in present tense.

If I understood that, perhaps it would not sound so dissonant to me.

And my condolences to those who have lost someone dear to them today.

jayhawk96 11 years, 4 months ago

You will be dearly missed, Howard. RIP.

DDDHawk 11 years, 4 months ago

Thank you, 100. What an interesting history lesson about a wonderful man who played such a role in our basketball tradition at K.U. I think he would be pleased to know that so many people have paid their respects here.

Michael Auchard 11 years, 4 months ago

Like KansasCity said above, thanks for helping with the turkey slices, Uncle Howard.

I always looked forward to seeing him every year.

Dr. Robert s. Mosser 11 years, 4 months ago

FACTCHECK--1940 was 1st NCAA tournament. 1939 was tournament of the American Basketball Coaches.

In the semifinals against SoCal(supposedly the best team in the country at that time) Engleman made a pass at SoCal dribbler who pivoted, Bob Allen knocked the ball out at the pivot, fired the ball down the court to Engleman who put in the winning 2 points.

Also the Kentucky Betting scandal was after WW2, not in the 30's. Otherwise good post.

Chris Shaw 11 years, 4 months ago

You're going to have to elaborate on the 1939 "American Basketball Coaches" tournament?

NCAA has run from 1939 to present with Oregon being the first NCAA National Champ. Just trying to learn something if there is indeed something to learn, but to my knowledge Villanova was the first ever school to win an "NCAA" tournament game and that was on March 17, 1939.

Ken Sedgwick 11 years, 4 months ago

Thank you 100, today we crown you 101, 110, or 1000, or +100. You get the picture.

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