UK Men's Basketball Quotes
Pre-Southeastern Conference Tournament
March 6, 2001
Coach Tubby Smith
"I am really excited about this tournament, probably more so than any other SEC Tournament I have been a part of because our kids are playing extremely well at this point in time even though we are coming off a tough loss to Florida. The extrinsic reward our players have received from their play this year, especially Tayshaun Prince being our Player of the Year in the SEC, is really special. Not just for Tayshaun's perseverance but also for the team members, because of their perseverance and character. Plus, Keith Bogans being named second-team All-SEC, and they are two guys I wouldn't want to trade for anyone else in the league because they mean a lot to our program. Gerald Fitch and Jason Parker are very deserving of being on the All-Freshman team, and J.P. Blevins being All-Academic. I am very pleased with that because J.P. epitomizes what the student-athlete is all about. He gets it done on the court, in the classroom, and off the court as well. I am really happy for those young men and for this team."
"To share this SEC title was not something we were looking forward to but we didn't play very well at Florida so they deserve to have a share of the title. They played extremely well and we didn't play one of our better games. At a place like the O' Connell Center, you have to be on your best game. We had some breakdowns defensively and we have had those over the past three games. It is nothing that we can't correct and they are problems that arose because of fundamentals slippage. We need to work on rebounding as well."
"The SEC Tournament will be a very competitive tournament. Both South Carolina and Mississippi State are good teams and they just played each other last weekend. So they will know each other pretty well and having played both teams before, we have a pretty good feel for what they do. We will spend most of our time this week addressing areas we need to improve on."
"I like the way our bench has been contributing and I think if they continue that way it will be a huge help to us."
"The team is hungry to show that their early problems have been corrected and that they want to win the tournament because that solidifies the fact that we are a top team, that you will get a higher seed and that you will get an automatic bid to the NCAA."
"I am concerned about the first game of the SEC Tournament because that is the toughest and that is something we didn't do last year. We have to be really focused and concentrate because South Carolina and Mississippi State are capable of beating us. We have to look at one game at a time, not the whole tournament."
"When we did trap properly, we forced turnovers-19 in the game. So I think trapping, whether at mid-court or half-court should be our focus. But even more importantly than that is rebounding because we got beat on the boards again."
"South Carolina has had a lot of success in tournament play. Eddie Fogler has done an excellent job whenever he has gotten his teams into tournament play. They have a very solid nucleus and all their starters have pretty much stayed together the entire season. In Aaron Lucas, you have a guy who can really dominate a tournament because of his ability to pass the ball and score, getting people involved. He can dominate the game on offense and defense."
"Mississippi State has had a few changes over the last few weeks; they have had to dismiss a couple of players. There could be some concerns there. But both present some problems. South Carolina does a lot of screening on the ball and we have trouble defending screening on the ball, and Mississippi State screens on the ball as well. They make you have to defend the screens. They have three seniors that are very talented players. While they have not had the season they expected to have, they are a very talented and skilled team."
"We led the league in defensive field goal percentage this year. But in the last few games, we haven't taken away the inside game or the outside game and you have to take away one of those to win. Even if they shoot a high percentage of threes, if you take away one of the games, you have a high chance of winning. My whole theory over the years has been to limit the high-percentage shots, which is the low-post score and scoring in the paint."
"It is hard to guard anybody one-on-one. You have to be an unbelievable athlete to stop a guy who has the ball, knows what he wants to do with the ball, and has the ability to dribble by you. That is why you have to play team defense, support each other and help and recover. You just can't stop people one-on-one. That is what the game has evolved to."
On the seven newcomers' inexperience in the tournament
On Tayshaun Prince and his contributions to the team
On Rick Pitino
Tayshaun Prince, Forward
"You can't celebrate an award like this, because we have to concentrate on SEC's right now, which is even tougher than the regular season. Everyone wants to go down and win it, so this is an important time to concentrate."
On his relaxed playing style
On if he thinks his game-winning shot against Florida had any influence on winning SEC Player of the Year "It was a big factor that we won that game. If we hadn't of won that game and Florida had beat us in Gainesville, they would probably be the outright champion. But who knows? If we had lost that game we still might have won at Arkansas. There are all kind of things that could have happened, but I do think that win had a lot to do with it."
On how it feels to have his name in the history books alongside players like Shaquille O'Neal and Ron Mercer "To be on a list with those guys is incredible. To see "Tayshaun Prince: 2001 SEC Player of the Year" is amazing. I never thought that I'd see my name up there with those guys, but on the other hand, I set goals for myself at the beginning of the season, and this was one of them. I wanted to be Player of the Year and lead my team to the SEC title."
J.P. Blevins, Guard
On the possibility of Rick Pitino coaching at Louisville next season "We hear a lot about it. I guess it would be really weird to see him over there in the red. He's going to do whatever Coach Pitino wants to do. I can see how this would add a little fuel to the fire in the rivalry."
On Prince being named SEC Player of the Year
"Tayshaun is about as cool as they come as far as being out on the floor, how he plays and the way he stays poised. Tayshaun really knows what is going on out there. His leadership affects the team as far as being calm, but no one could be as relaxed as Tayshaun is on the court."
On whether it hurts the team to lose two of its last three games going into the tournament "We would have liked to have won at Florida and at Arkansas and really be rallying going into the tournament. In the big scheme of things, it's really not that important. You throw everything out now and prepare for the third part of the season which is the postseason."
Jason Parker, Forward
On what he has learned this season
On the caliber of play in the SEC
On the teams improvement throughout the year
Keith Bogans, Guard
On the teams postseason chances
On speculation about Rick Pitino going to coach Louisville