Tubby Smith Press Conference
January 1, 2001
"With the win over High Point, I hope we have a little bit of momentum going into the game with Louisville. Its always a big game, and I know that Louisville has not played as well as Coach (Denny) Crum would like. Were probably not playing as well as we would like to be playing. It will be an interesting game, and as always, when these teams are involved, you can throw out the records because both teams are going to play extremely hard and really get after it."
"What weve been trying to do is get better in the areas that we need to improve. After committing 15 turnovers against High Point, I think we need to work on our ball handling. Our shooting has picked up as we have improved to about 47-48 percent as a team. That is a big plus for us, and a lot of that is attributable to our post people. We have been able to get the ball inside and get high-percentage shots. As we improve our perimeter play, our post players will continue to get good looks. Attacking the offensive boards is an area we havent done extremely well in, and we have to improve in our free-throw shooting. Tomorrow, rebounding will be a big key to the game. We really need to make a conscious effort to box out and rebound the ball."
"Marques Maybin is their go-to guy. Reece Gaines and Erik Brown have both been playing extremely well. They are getting good play out of their bench as well. They are a young team and are starting one senior, two sophomores and two freshmen. They are kind of in the same situation were in. They are still learning. There are things we have to repeat, repeat and repeat every time we do something in practice. It never seems to carry over as well into the game where you have slippage and breakdowns. Now we have added another freshman to the lineup. So weve gotten even younger. We start Gerald Fitch and Jason Parker. We start a sophomore in Keith Bogans and a junior in Tayshaun Prince. So both teams, Louisville and Kentucky, are very young. With that in mind, we have played competitive schedules, and I think our records reflect that."
On the UK/U of L series...
"It is a very intense game and very competitive. Last years game was very close in the first half. It is a matter of who can seize the momentum and establish their tempo. Certainly, when you play Louisville, even though they havent played well at home this year, Freedom Hall is still a tough place to play."
On the teams mindset since they have been playing better...
"Thats always the case. When good things are happening, people are more positive. It makes me a little more positive, therefore, theyre (the players) a little more positive. When things arent going well, Im not happy, so theyre not happy. We are improving in a lot of areas. But it takes a lot of patience. This is probably the youngest team Coach (Denny) Crum has had in a long time, and I know it is the youngest one we have had in a while. It takes a little more concentration, not necessarily on the players part, but on the coaches part to set up a plan to keep the players focused. Thats the thing with younger players. They dont have the ability or the maturation or the experience to hold their attention. And that is frustrating for older players. With a guy like Saul (Smith) who knows the plays, it is hard on them because they want to move on. So it is difficult to go through all the same things."
On U of Ls defense giving up points...
"Theyve played some good opponents. Dayton is a very good team. Oregon is one of the top teams. You are talking about teams that are very close to breaking into the Top 25. When you have young players playing against experienced teams, thats going to happen. I dont think there is anything fundamentally wrong with their defense. Its the same defense that Coach (Denny) Crum, a Hall-of-Fame coach, has been teaching for 30 years, and he has been pretty successful. You are going to have breakdowns when you are young. They are not as big in the front line as they have been. And they are scarce in the front line, so they are going to be more vulnerable."
On Jason Parker rushing his shots...
"Hes pretty much right-hand dominant. He has a tendency to use his right hand in every move he makes. He needs to have poise and take his time, because he tends to get anxious and move too quickly which leads to turnovers and bad shots. Instead of just taking what the defense gives him or using the shot-fake to move to the inside, he just wants to use shear power, and he cant do that with his size. The guy is going to stay behind him and block his shot or make him change it. He needs to use some other types of moves, and the only way to do that is to be a little more patient."
On what Louisville does well
"Obviously, their high-post UCLA offense is very effective. Theyve done a lot of different things. They run a lot of motion offense. In Maybin, they have a guy who can shoot the ball well. They can really take you off the dribble one-on-one."
On the players liking Freedom Hall because they shoot well there...
"Thats a key. If they believe it is a better shooting place and have shot well there, then that should help them visualize shooting well. We have been shooting the ball well all year long. I thought we would be a better shooting team this year, and we have. The thing that still concerns me is our passing. We are not making that extra pass. But I think it is a very good shooting arena for us."
On why the team is shooting better...
"We just have guys who are better shooters this year. Guys are understanding where their shots are going to come from, so they are taking better shots. We have been able to get the ball inside for high-percentage shots from Jason (Parker), Marvin (Stone) and Marquis (Estill) who are three very good offensive players. And Eriks (Daniels) high shooting percentage is helping out the team percentage."
UK Player Quotes
Pre-Louisville Press Conference
Cliff Hawkins, G
On facing former teammate Luke Whitehead...
"I haven't really talked to Luke about this game, but all the former players from Oak Hill talk trash to each other. I am sure we will be talking a lot
tomorrow night. I know he is a competitor and that we'll have our hands full. He's an excellent slasher. He likes to run and jump. After playing on the
same team as him, I know how tough it will be to play against him tomorrow night."
On his recent illness...
"It's frustrating to have been playing well and then get sick. I am trying to make the best of it. Things will work out in the end."
Tayshaun Prince, F
"Our main focus right now is just to stay positive. We are on a winning streak, and we are going to a place where we shoot the ball well. At last year's
Georgia Tech game, we played well in that gym. If we shoot like we did against Indiana, we will have no problems."
On the team's improvement...
"We have been really patient. Being patient is the key. The freshmen have learned the plays now. We have another chance to do it right if everyone
"This will be a typical UL-UK game. They are coming off a loss against Oregon and they are going to come out strong. At the same time, we need
to have a great start. Whoever makes the plays and shoots the ball well is going to win."
Keith Bogans, G
"This is an intense rivalry where everyone is going to come out and play hard. Louisville had a bad start this season just like us, but they are a good
team. We have been practicing with the same intensity as we did against Michigan State or any other team."
"We have really been playing well. We are playing good defense and knocking down shots, even free throws. Things are going well. We are
executing the offense better. We are young, and things can get a lot easier."
Jason Parker, C
On his play in the first half of the season...
"It was a little frustrating, having little guards slapping the ball out of your hand and playing against guys taller than you, but I am ready for the second
half of the season. I spent the first half learning, and Coach Smith taught me a lot. I knew I would have to learn a little because there is a whole lot
different about the college game than in high school. I am working on new moves, using my left hand more and being more patient in the post. I am
not down about my play. I know I have to be patient. It gets frustrating, but everything will come around."