Hank Finkel (left) of the University of Dayton faces Kentucky in a 1966 NCAA tournament regional semifinal in Iowa City, Iowa. DAYTON DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO

UD NCAA legends: ‘Big Hank’ Finkel and his 1966 battle with No. 1 Kentucky

The University of Dayton basketball team is making its fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance this season.

We’re looking back on some of the best UD individual performances in tournament history. Today, it’s Henry Finkel and his 1966 battle with mighty Kentucky.

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The Dayton Flyers were underdogs going into a 1966 NCAA tournament regional semifinal against No. 1-ranked Kentucky.

Henry Finkel showed why he is one of UD’s all-time best.

The 6-foot-11 center, called “Big Hank” in newspaper headlines, scored 36 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against the Wildcats in an 86-79 defeat. Kentucky went on to lose the title game in an historic matchup with Texas Western.

» INTERACTIVE: Explore the Dayton Flyers’ NCAA tournament history

As coach Don Donoher said afterward, Finkel provided “a typical Finkel performance. In other words, a great one.”

Dayton entered the game 23-4 after a first-round NCAA tournament victory against Miami University, 58-51, in Kent. It was UD’s third-ever NCAA appearance.

Sophomore Hank Finkel of University of Dayton with UD basketball Coach Tom Blackburn during the 1963-64 season. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE
Photo: DDN archive

“Finkel was our poison,” Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp said. “His play inside forced us into the zone. We couldn’t handle Finkel man-to-man. His quickness amazed me.”

» Dayton basketball history: What you should know about the Flyers

Kentucky put in its tallest player, 6-foot-8 Cliff Berger, to guard Finkel.

“I knew Finkel had all these shots-hook, turnaround and move-in layups-but I never suspected he could make that many of them,” Berger said. “They (scouting reports) also said Finkel would tire. But he never looked tired to me.”

Dayton led 64-59 with 10:46 left before Kentucky scored nine straight and didn’t look back. Louie Dampier scored 34 points and Pat Riley added 29 for Kentucky.

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Finkel left UD as the program’s all-time leading scorer, averaging 23.7 points from 1963-66. However, he was eclipsed by teammate Don May just two years later (May finished with 1,980 points, just 12 more than Finkel). His career scoring average remains the best in school history.

Finkel was an All-American in 1966 and was drafted in the second round of the 1966 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. He played nine pro seasons with L.A., the San Diego Rockets and Boston.

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