The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Ward Lambert - Inducted 2015

The legendary Purdue coach was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 1960. He was born in Deadwood and lived there until age 10 or so before moving to Indiana.

 The 1911 Wabash (Ind.) College grad was coach at Purdue from 1916-17 and 1918-46. He was 371-152 in 29 seasons, including the national title in 1932, when the Boilermakers went 17-1 behind star player John Wooden (later of UCLA coaching fame). Purdue went 228-105 in the Big Ten and won or shared 11 Big Ten titles under Lambert.

The 5-foot-6 Lambert would nervously pace the sidelines. He was an innovative strategist with an animated style. He pioneered the fast-breaking style of play and his teams were always noted for their great speed. He was named the country’s outstanding basketball coach in a nationwide poll conducted by Esquire magazine in 1945. Lambert was the commissioner of the National Professional Basketball League from 1946-49. He was the author of Practical Basketball, one of the early “Bibles’’ of the game. He also refereed, including the 1920 and ’21 Indiana state high school finals.

While at Purdue, Lambert also coached the baseball team for 20 years.

The 114-pounder played basketball at Crawfordsville (Ind.) High School but was never a starter. At Wabash, he started as a sophomore and led the team in scoring that season. Although he never considered a coaching profession while in college, he was forced to take a teaching position at Lebanon, Ind., due to financial difficulties in 1911. To accompany his teaching responsibilities, he became the high school’s basketball coach. Four years later, he would become Purdue’s coach.


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