Ward Piggy Lambert - The Gunslinger of BasketballHOW A QUICK-THINKING SOUTH DAKOTAN CHANGED BASKETBALL FOREVER
Deadwood SD, 1876
Deadwood, South Dakota has long been an iconic symbol of the Old West. It ranks with Tombstone, Dodge, and Tucson as encapsulating the hardy, unrestrained, unlawful character of life in the boom towns on the frontier. Indeed, Deadwood as a center of the Black Hills Gold Rush was a very rough town in the last decade of the 1800s. It earned its reputation.
So, how did it give birth to fast break basketball? Well it didn’t. Not really. But it was the birthplace of the man who is credited with inventing one of the game’s most commonplace strategies. Every coach of the modern game would consider the fast break as an essential component of basketball strategy.
Ward “Piggy” Lambert was born in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1888. After graduating from Wabash College in 1911, he landed a series of coaching jobs before becoming Purdue University’s head coach in 1916. During his reign he won eleven Big Ten championships. Purdue was national champion in 1932. One the more marvelou
Lambert coaching Per
s items in Lambert’s resume is the fact that he was John Wooden’s coach.
Basketball’s fast break is the practice creating a quick pass to a ball handler after a rebound, or sometimes, after the ball is taken out of bounds. The ball is moved up court as quickly as possible and shots are taken quickly, if possible; it is really style of the modern game. It was not always this way. Up to the 1940s many teams employed control strategies which meant games were played with great deliberation resulting in very low scores. Hank Iba at Oklahoma State was the foremost practitioner of this approach.
Lambert believed in the faster game and is considered one of basketball’s legendary figures. Being born near the hangouts of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (albeit, a few year later) probably had nothing to do with Lambert’ prowess as a coach. But Wild Bill did believe in speed!
Author: EVM STAFF on 03/22 2011
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