My Name is Mr. Ryan

The Greatness in People Series Part One

As World War II ended, Arnold Ryan got his start as a high school basketball coach in the tiny town of Puxico, Missouri. The 29-year- old Ryan had no formal coaching experience, but his team would bring change to the American Game. His 1951 Puxico Indians were the manifestation of modern basketball, one of the most powerful- and provocative—teams ever to play the game. But more was involved than a coach and talented athletes. Pride in school, community, heritage, and the vision , courage and virtue of real achievement played equal parts.

The Puxico Indians played in a log gym, and they made basketball history, innovating run-and-gun offense and pioneering full court defense. But the Ryanmen weren’t just an awesome basketball team. They were the American Dream, transcending sports to

embrace the higher instinct in us all. Discover why the story of Puxico basketball and the message of Mr. Ryan are as old as greatness in people.

Cover cutline

The front cover photograph by Jack Gould of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was taken in the log gymnasium at Puxico in January 1951. Puxico star Winfred Wilfong is pictured leaping to score and give his team a 75-23 lead over Bernie on the third quarter of the game.

  • “A remarkable work of research , one which verifies a legend.”
    Marty Eddlemon, Springfield News-Leader
  • “Amazing”
    Mike Shain, KFVS-TV, Cape Girardeau
  • “A very good book that combines sports with Missouri history…. A wonderful look at Arnold Ryan.”
    Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post- Dispatch