Fun game and day here in Catlanta. This was one of those days that make you crazy…..lots of technical difficulties on the show, an odd encounter at a local watering hole and some difficulty finding our boys’ seats. But in the end, we got here and it was quite a game. The Cats looked very good to me on offense, moving the ball effectively and essentially getting any look at the basket that they pleased. Good performances from Morris, Bradley, Crawford and Meeks, showcasing that when Kentucky has at least three guys on, they are a tough team to take out.
The SEC Tournament is the first time you get to go in the locker room after the game, and here were some postgame notes…..
(1) After the game, I saw a team in the locker room that was as upbeat as I have seen all year. Ramel Bradley as always was the leader of the pack, joking about how great it was to see shots fall and to get the “real UK fans on Thursday” out of their seat. Ramel said that he though the key to the game was “the way we moved the ball and made the extra pass…..when I do that, others do to, so it is important.” Lots of laughter in the room, especially from the Freshmen end where resident team comedian, Dwight Perry was holding court. He is great at making jokes and keeping everything light. I asked him why he didnt have his name on the back of his jersey and he pointed to Bill Keightley and said, “ask the big guy.” Keightley wasnt available for interviews.
(2) Once again the highlight for me was talking to the man Woo. Obrzut was his usual great self saying that, “in the postseason the games are played longer and we have to be ready.” He said that he was sad to see his career at Kentucky end, saying “I love it here and I dont want it to end….and if I cant I wont let it end.” He also confirmed that he has been thrown into the river in his life but “that is why I am such a good swimmer.” I love Woo.
(3) I asked a lot of the players about the media furor of the last couple of weeks and to a man they said they blocked it out. Bradley said, “we know how good Coach is and we know that he is going to have us ready. Everything else is just talking.” Derrick Jasper said, “Coach Smith knows to keep us from distraction and with everyone talking about him, he takes the heat and we can focus on the games.” However Michael Porter admitted that people come up to him and say some things. “Its not a lot, but sometimes people say stuff….but you just try to ignore it. We know how good Coach is and we arent worried.”
(4) I asked all the Freshmen how they liked their year and all said it has been great. Perry Stevenson said, “this has been a great year. Its a lot crazier than I thought, but I love it. Its like being a celebrity and I would have never dreamed that. Plus I have gotten a lot better on the court.” Derrick Jasper called the year “excellent” overall and Michael Porter said, “this is all that I could have hope for and more. Sometimes there are ups and downs but I like it here and this team is a great group of guys.”
(5) Also have to give a shout out to walk-on Mark Coury. First time I had ever gotten a chance to talk to the kid and it is clear he is very intelligent. He is somewhat shy but you can tell when a kid really has it going on from an intelligence point of view, and Mark has it. At the end he said, “this team is really ready to go in the postseason. I feel like we have been good all year, but now its time to show and the guys are ready.”
More tomorrow and hopefully some audio later tonight (cross your fingers)…..