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Know Your KU History: Rick Suttle

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A great “sixth man” and Final Four participant.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, let’s start this off with a few blind comparisons, shall we?

Player A

Player B

Player C

Points per game

12.6

13.9

10.2

Rebounds per game

6.2

6.9

7.3

Field goal pct.

55%

49%

55%

All of these numbers are taken from the player’s most productive three-year span, with only one player having a year discarded because he played for a total of four years. The other two only played three seasons at Kansas.

Well, judging by the title of this article, you’ve probably already gathered that one of these players is Rick Suttle who played for Kansas for three years in the early to mid-1970’s, but who are the other two? They are both comparable in size and position (Suttle was 6’10” and played as a center and a forward) and both are well-respected recent members of the Kansas Jayhawks.

Player A is Marcus Morris and Player C is Scot Pollard. The player in the middle is Suttle, and those stats are pretty good for a guy that many Kansas fans would have a hard time identifying as a Jayhawk.

Rick Suttle came to Lawrence by way of East St. Louis, Illinois and started his career in his sophomore season of 1972-73. Suttle was the standout on that team and averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in that season. He was honored as a member of the second team All-Big 8 team. That 72-73 team was a horrifying 8-18 on the season and 4-10 in conference, but many were youngsters and they more than redeemed themselves the following season.

In 1973-74, KU turned it around, winning the Big 8 with a 13-1 record and finishing the regular season 21-5. Suttle was a big reason why. Despite the fact that his scoring and rebounding average dipped to 11.3 and 5.3, it was clear that his leadership (he often started games on the bench) was a key to the team’s success. He led by example and never complained about his role. He was again named to the second team All-Big 8 team.

But the team was the biggest story in 1974. KU went to the Final Four that year, eventually losing to Marquette in the national semi-finals in Greensboro, North Carolina. Suttle scored a game-high19 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the 64-51 loss.

He had another strong campaign in his senior season of 1974-75. Suttle averaged 14.6 points and 6.8 boards that year and KU again impressed in the regular season. Kansas won the Big 8 with an 11-3 record, but their non-con record was just 8-5 and they suffered a first round NCAA loss to Notre Dame. Suttle did what he could to keep the Jayhawks alive in the postseason, putting up 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, but KU fell to the Fighting Irish 77-71. As far as post-season awards go, Suttle was finally rewarded with a first team All-Big 8 selection. Well deserved.

Suttle was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the seventh round of the 1975 NBA draft, but he never made the team.