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Kentucky Basketball Press Conference Quotes

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Feb. 3, 2003

Head Coach Tubby Smith

On if he views the Florida game as the UK defense vs. the UF offense...
"I see it as Kentucky playing Florida. We certainly want to set the tempo and the flow of the game on both ends of the floor, just like they're going to try to do. I think this team has been able to play up-tempo and slow the game down. This team is capable of reacting (to the tempo). We'd like to push the ball and get easy baskets in transition and create offense with our defense."

On how tough it is to guard Florida's spread offense...
"They still are getting the ball inside, but more of their shots are coming from the perimeter because they have better perimeter guys. A guy like Matt Bonner has gone inside more this year and a guy like David Lee is very athletic and mobile as a center, although he's more of a forward, but you end up having to match up with your center against him and he creates problems because of his mobility and agility. They have very active post people and that creates a problem."

On Florida's three-point shooting ability...
"Four of their five starters are great three-point shooters and they can come off the bench with (Anthony) Roberson who is a great three-point shooter. That's always been a big part of their offense - the three-point shot. They are the best three-point shooting team we've faced so far because of their depth. A lot of teams we've been able to double and get help, but we can't do that with them, which makes us more vulnerable on the interior. They've been very good at capitalizing and making you pay when you try to help and not play sound defensively. It's going to take a tremendous effort to contain them."

On any added significance to the game with Florida being ranked No. 1 in the country...
"There should be something added to that game with them being the No. 1 team. It's another chance for us to measure ourselves against the best because at this time they're considered the best team in the country. They're very deserving of that top ranking. Billy Donovan and his staff have done an outstanding job of blending some veteran players with some really young players. Their new players have been able to come in and add a real boost to their team both offensively and defensively."

On how difficult it is to focus on one player for Florida...
"You can't. Post players that have the ability to step out and shoot the three create driving lanes and puts the defense at a real disadvantage. We have Jules (Camara) and Marquis (Estill) who aren't as mobile as Matt Bonner, so that creates some problems for us."

On the mental approach to this game...
"Obviously it's a big game, but every game is big this time of year. You're playing for a conference regular season title, which is one of our goals, and playing against the team that's leading the conference is a real challenge and something that should motivate us to play better, harder and smarter. Florida is very fundamentally sound and has the weapons to stay in the game and even put you away. The players know we're more concerned about what we have to continue to improve on to get better."

On the threat of Brett Nelson...
"He hit seven threes in a game recently, so he's very capable of making shots and we know that. We definitely plan on guarding him. Everyone knows he's a very talented player that's having a tough year, but you know he's capable of having a big game and carrying his team with the way that he can shoot the ball."

On the possibility of the atmosphere rattling the Florida freshmen...
"I haven't seen anything - they've shown a lot of maturity. They've been in some battles and they've won big games on the road. I hope our crowd does have an affect on them. The crowd is usually a big help for us and I expect it to be a really fired up crowd tomorrow."

On his assessment of the defense against South Carolina...
"We were average. We were pretty active in the first half and did a good job defensively, but we had a little let-up in the second half. You can't afford to do that against Florida."

On what he hopes to achieve against Florida offensively...
"I hope we can get the ball inside. Marquis (Estill) has been effective whenever we get the ball to him close to the basket. Our front line is going to be the key to the game offensively. Erik (Daniels), Chuck (Hayes), Jules (Camara) and Marquis have been our four leading shooters, so we need to get them shots and make Florida guard us at the basket. If you start shooting threes and playing their game you can get in the tempo they want."

On if the Louisville game can turn out to be an effective learning tool for this game...
"We got caught up in playing that style of jacking up shots when we should've been a little more patient, and Florida plays a very similar style to Louisville. I think it will help us that we played Louisville."

On his players responding to the challenge of playing a higher ranked team...
"Keith (Bogans) has always had that in his personality. He's been pretty consistent in his play for four years. You know what you're going to get from Keith - he's always going to give you his best effort, so he's our leader in that regard. Chuck (Hayes) is one that likes to spout off about wanting to prove things. They have responded the right way with their backs against the wall, they've fought harder and raised their level of play."

On how much the team has improved since the Louisville game...
"Now that Cliff (Hawkins) has had a chance to get some of the rust off and Antwain (Barbour) is trying to overcome a broken hand - both of those things have helped. The practice time has really helped us, too. Guys have had some good battles in practice and that's why you've seen improvement in all our players."

On how much his team's versatility helps in defending Florida...
"We can go with Chuck (Hayes) and Erik (Daniels) and get some mobility at the forward and center spot, or we can go with Jules (Camara), who is probably our best all-around defender. He can guard the perimeter as well as the post. The versatility gives us an advantage in the matchup defensively."


UK PLAYERS

Cliff Hawkins, Guard
On playing a team that likes to run...
"It's going to be a challenge for us. We're going to get after them and give them our best shot. It's going to be an exciting and intense game. The way both teams are playing right now, it's going to be fun."

On Florida being ranked No. 1...
"That's important to everybody else. For us, it's another game on our schedule, another game we have to win. We're just looking at it that way."

On defending Florida's three-point shooting...
"We're going to have to be real aggressive and get in their faces. We have to force them to make plays off the dribble. We can't let them catch and shoot the ball, we have to force them to make plays."

On the atmosphere for Tuesday's game...
"It's going to be great. The fans are going to be into it, the other team is going to be into it. These games are why you come to Kentucky."

Keith Bogans, Guard
On Florida being ranked No. 1...
"This is a great opportunity for us. We get a chance to go out and play great basketball against a great team. It's an opportunity for us to show how good we really are."

On what is impressive about Florida...
"Florida has always had great outside shooting. With (center Udonis) Haslem gone, they are a lot more mobile in the post and they have guys that play down (in the post) that can also shoot the three."

On the magnitude of this game in the regular season...
"In the Southeastern Conference, every game is a big game, not just because we're playing Florida. Both of us are undefeated (in conference play) and we're fighting for first place but we just want to go out and have fun."

On Coach Tubby Smith's attitude...
"Coach is going to be amped-up. Sometimes I think he's ready to go out there and play with us the way he acts, but that's Coach. He's intense and he's going to be out there and have us ready to play."

Marquis Estill, Center
On playing top-ranked Florida...
"It's just another big game. We don't pay much attention to the rankings. It's just another big game for us.

"We look at each game the same. You can't take any team lightly. Obviously they're a great team, they're number one. It's a great opportunity for us. It's probably one of the bigger games in SEC play, Kentucky against Florida. Everyone wants to see this game."

On defending Florida's Matt Bonner...
"It's going to be a challenge defending a guy outside that you're used to defending inside. I'm just going to try to do the same things I do with guys inside. Just be physical with him, keep the ball off of him."

Erik Daniels, Forward
On the keys to defeating Florida...
"We have to rotate on defense and get to the open man. We don't want to let them take open shots.

"We have to make sure they don't get to shoot the threes. Coach (Smith) wants us to take good shots and get up and down the floor. They're going to pressure, so we need to be smart with the ball, find the open man and take good shots.

On the importance of Marquis Estill on offense...
"We have to get the ball inside first to be productive. We have one of the best inside players in the country in Marquis. He's hard to stop and our offense runs off of him, so if someone else double-teams him, then someone else will be wide open. We should get the ball to him every possession. He shoots for a high percentage and takes good shots. He's very productive."

 

 

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