UK Coach and Player Quotes
Coach Tubby Smith Quotes
Pre-Notre Dame Press Conference
Jan. 12, 2001
"We're preparing for Notre Dame, which is a very solid ball club. They've been ranked in the Top 25 for most of the year. They're 9-4 coming into this contest and are a very talented team. They have a few players with Kentucky ties, especially David Graves and Harold Swanagan. They're going to be fired up and ready. They've both played in Rupp Arena in some capacity, so that will give them an edge."
"We've been working more on the fundamentals this week, because we've suffered some defensive breakdowns lately. When you have a young team, you can sometimes take those things for granted. We tried to identify the problems and had a good practice yesterday."
"We have a couple of guys who are nicked up right now. Keith Bogans sat out of practice yesterday resting his ankle. He should be back in practice today, trying to run on the ankle. He's probable for tomorrow though. Saul (Smith) has had some swelling and soarness in his knees. He's had some problems over the last few weeks, but he got hit in the game against South Carolina, and that aggravated the problem."
"The entire Notre Dame team can shoot the ball well. They like to get up the court. They try to get Troy Murphy as many touches as possible. He's a pretty talented guy. He can pass the ball well, and he doesn't have too many weaknesses. We want to spend time limiting his touches. At the same time, we can't take attention away from Matt Carroll and David Graves, who can shoot the three really well. Our job is to establish the tempo and get as many easy baskets in transition as we can."
On the play of Cliff Hawkins
"Cliff is doing much better. His assist-turnover ratio has improved during the season. We expect him to continue to improve."
"Executing fundamentals is how you win games. We want to establish doing it the right way every time we step on the court. Sometimes with young guys, they revert back to their old ways, from high school and junior college. What concerns me most is when veteran players make those mistakes."
On what makes Gerald Fitch such a strong defensive presence
"It's called heart. It's called guts. It's called determination. He has the most of all three of those things. He has a real feel for where the ball is. Once he gets more disciplined in his defensive game, he's going to be great. Daniels is the same way. It probably takes more disciplining to become great defensively than it does offensively."
"We're doing better at hustling. J.P. (Blevins) is doing more, and he needs to be. Marvin is the same way. We have to keep hustling. If we continue to do those type of things, we're going to get the calls."
On the play of Jason Parker
"He is a good passer out of the post. We've been telling him more that he needs to pause for poise though. His anxiousness hurts him. Once against South Carolina, he was spinning and shooting so quick, he missed the basket. He's been working on using his left hand more. He has the hands and the skills, he just needs time to put it all together."
On whether he feels Kentucky is a top-30 team
"Sure, I think we're a top-30 team. I think we're one of the best teams in the country. We've played a really solid schedule. But me saying that doesn't do anything. You have to go out and show people that you belong in the top. I think we're the No. 1 team in the country, at least in my book. If I don't think that, we never will be. At the beginning of the season, every coach thinks his team is the top team. It's the mentality that you have to have."
UK Player Quotes
On Notre Dame
"It should be a pretty good game, very physical. They like to bang on the inside, and I like that. They have some big guys in there, but it is to my advantage to play that way. Sometimes the officials won't let you play that physical on the inside. Hopefully, they will tomorrow."
On spreading the ball out in the half-court offense
"It really makes us balanced. It makes it more of a team thing, and we can go inside or out. It just really helps us to do that."
On the rankings
"We don't think about the rankings. We look at every team the same way and come out to play for the entire 40 minutes."
On his free-throw shooting
"I started to switch my style last year at Fork Union. Then, I switched it a little more when I got here this year. It is just a matter of keeping my mind focused and continuing to concentrate."
On his ankle injury
"I am still limping a little bit. I didn't run at all yesterday. I just stayed off of it and rode the bike. I am doing everything I can to get ready for tomorrow."
On playing in front of a national television audience
"It doesn't matter whether we play in front of a big crowd, on TV or in practice. We all just go out there and play as hard as we can. We aren't worried about pressure. We go out and play hard, and we will do what we can to keep winning."
On the team's balance
"When one guy isn't knocking down his shots, we have plenty of guys who can step up. We are very balanced and I think that shows out on the court every game."
On his improved play and increased playing time
"I feel good the way I have played the last two games. I am certainly pleased with my effort and being able to knock down shots. Hopefully we can keep it going tomorrow."
On Coach Smith's demeanor
"I think coach is happy that we are winning games, but he also knows there is a lot of room for improvement with this team so he can't really relax. It would be different if we couldn't go anywhere but up, but I think that isn't the case with this team. He knows that and he knows the only way to get maximum effort out of this team is to stay on them."
On whether to expect another nail-biter
"Hopefully we can get out on them early and go for the throat, but if I was betting I would probably say it is going to be close."
On whether the team likes playing close game
"I don't think anyone likes it that way. We are used to it and we're experienced playing close games so hopefully that will be an advantage for us."
On his ability to break down defenses
"I am at my best when I am penetrating and making passes. I look to score when it's there, but mostly I like to pass the ball for a dunk for a big guy or a three-point shot. I get more of a kick out of that than actually scoring a bucket myself."
On whether he was pressing too much early in the season
"Early on I was trying too hard to make a play and stay on the floor instead of taking my time and letting the game come to me."
On what the team's mindset is
"It has come to the point in the season where we have to win. We have a team goal to win the SEC Championship. I just try to do my part in order for our team to have success."
On the chemistry between he and Marquis Estill
"We are always on the same team in practice. When Coach makes substitutions it seems we're always in the game together. He (Marquis) really has a feel for me now and he knows where to be when I penetrate."
On defending Troy Murphy
"He is a great player, but we are going to approach him like we do every inside guy. We are going to protect the paint as much as possible by collapsing down on whoever has the ball in the post, whether it's him or Ryan Humphrey. That is our main focus - no matter what team we are playing - to protect the paint. He'll have different looks throughout the whole basketball game. He'll have smaller guys on him. He'll have guys with strength on him. He'll have all types of guys on him. We're going to give him a lot of different looks. We know he is going to take a lot of shots and we have to be prepared to trap him if he gets the ball in the post. We are going to try and make him take a lot of perimeter shots."
On whether Kentucky should be ranked
"We shouldn't. We started off real slow. I think that is the reason we dropped out of the polls, and we probably should have. But at the same time we are a nationally ranked team. We know we are. We are not worrying about what everyone else thinks. We know what type of basketball team we are and what we are capable of doing."