Men's Basketball
Pre-Mississippi State Press Conference Quotes

Cliff Hawkins and his teammates comment on the upcoming game Friday afternoon.

Cliff Hawkins and his teammates comment on the upcoming game Friday afternoon.

Feb. 21, 2003


UK Coach Tubby Smith
On scouting Mississippi State
"We're not doing anything we haven't done in the past. We've now got guys that are listening and understanding better and they have experience and know how to understand a scouting report. We've got a book on everything that they do, and we give the players this, and go through it with them. We highlight things - what they do offensively, what they do defensively, and what each individual player does. We'll cover some things in practice - How we're going to get in and defend on the ball, and how we're going to screen on the ball, their favorite plays. We'll do film, walk-through, film, walk-through and then board before the game. So our guys get about four different chances."

On Daniels and Hayes...
"I feel very confident about Erik and Chuck. They can both play inside and outside. They give us the versatility that we maybe haven't had as much as we would like. They are experienced; they are a year older, a year stronger and a year smarter. They know when to switch and how, and they're athletic and physically able enough to usually defend, or at least contain, maybe a point guard who's usually using the screen, or another shooting guard who's coming off the screen."

On Mississippi State's Austin...
"He is as much improved, and stronger, as any player is after another year of experience. He's a candidate for (SEC) Player of the Year. They go to him and he makes a great effort to try to put himself in position to get the ball. He's got great hands, great touch around the basket. He's the best we're going to face at just sealing in, keeping you on his back. They can roll it in there, lob it in there or throw darts, and he'll catch anything that's thrown at him."

On MSU guards Bowers and Zimmerman...
"Bowers and Zimmerman really compliment each other extremely well. I think Zimmerman is the most athletic point guard in the league. He has all the ingredients, a combination of speed, agility, strength and the ability to run the team. He may not be the best shooter or defender, but he does all of it extremely well. Bowers is really coming on and playing extremely well. With his size - 6'5", 6'6"- you've got the long arms and he can do a lot of different things."

On defense in the post and on the perimeter...
"Post defense starts on the perimeter. It's all pressure on the perimeter. We've had some slippage in that area the last couple games. We trap a lot in the post, our post people depend on it, but sometimes we don't put enough pressure. So, it's a two-way street if our perimeter guys don't put as much ball pressure on the passing."

Erik Daniels
On Sunday's lettermen returning...
"It always inspires us to see the old guys come back, knowing what they've experienced. We're trying to do things that they've done and they've been through what we're going through right now."

On keeping the tradition...
"I think we've done an excellent job. We're doing things the right way. We're playing as a team, and everybody's getting along."

Gerald Fitch
On pressuring Mississippi St. guards...
"I think that's going to be a big key for us, to try to get them out of the game. Especially with Zimmerman, we're going to try to make him do things he doesn't want to do. That would be huge for us, to get him out of the offense."

On last year's Mississippi St. loss...
"I don't really think about it too much. You can't think about old games, you start to get too distracted. We've got a new focus now; it's a new year, and hopefully we can just continue the things we've been doing and just come out with a win."

Cliff Hawkins
On being approached by fans... "People just want to come to you and say 'good job' or 'we like the way you're playing,' and it feels good, and we appreciate that. You say thank you, and I don't think that goes to any of our heads."

On scouting...
"The coaching staff is doing a real good job of breaking down film this year, and we've been watching film two days earlier than we did last year - just studying a whole lot more of it."



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