Today was of course SEC Media Day in Birmingham. Today saw representatives of LSU, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ole Miss (why in the world would you want to go to day 2?) Always a great event, we at Kentucky Sports Radio dont want to leave you out. Here are a selection of quotes from the event. Enjoy and handle them carefully…..
SEC BASKETBALL MEDIA DAYS QUOTES (Day 1)
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive
On men’s basketball…
“For men’s basketball, we have put together some facts from last season in the aftermath of sending two teams to the Final Four, Florida winning the National Championship and South Carolina winning its second straight NIT:
* The SEC enjoyed an outstanding season in 2005-06, advancing Florida and LSU to the NCAA Final Four with the Gators winning their first-ever NCAA title.
* South Carolina won its second straight NIT Championship. At least half of the SEC’s member institutions advanced to the postseason for the 28th consecutive year.* The SEC becomes the first conference since the Big East in 2003 to win both titles in a season. Only four conferences have won both the NIT and NCAA title, including the ACC (1992) and Big Ten (1979).* The SEC’s 13 wins in the NCAA Tournament were the second best mark in league history behind 14 victories in 1996.
* Since the 1980-81 season, each of the 12 SEC schools has captured either an SEC divisional, overall or tournament title and 11 different schools have won or shared the SEC Championship since the league’s inception in 1933.* Every team in the SEC has made at least one NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five editions of the “Big Dance,” which shows the balance in the league over the past few seasons.
* The SEC is the only conference in the nation to have all of its teams
ranked at least one week in the AP top 25 since 1999-00. Simply stated, every SEC team has been a top-25 team nationally at one point in the last seven seasons.
* Over two million fans attended SEC men’s basketball games in 2005-06 for the eighth consecutive year. Last year’s total of 2,205,320 was the second highest attendance in league history. Ten of the league’s school ranked in the Top 100 in the nation in attendance, including three in the top 12.
“This upcoming season:
* League teams return 43 starters from last year’s squads.
* Seven of the eight Preseason First Team All-SEC players chosen by the coaches are juniors.
* The 2006-07 Southeastern Conference Men’s Basketball schedule features 271 appearances involving SEC teams and 188 televised games. The schedule is highlighted by 50 games slated for national telecast.
* Six different SEC teams have been ranked in the preseason and eight different players have been named preseason All-America by those publications.
* SEC Men’s Tournament is March 8-11 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.”
On improving basketball in the SEC…
“The past four years, we have taken a very conscious look at basketball in the SEC. We have taken four significant steps to provide a renewed emphasis. Needless to say that having an NCAA Champion, two teams in the Final Four and a second straight NIT Champion has given us a spot as one of the top conferences in the country.
“These are the four things we have done:
We have brought in consultants, C.M. Newton for men’s basketball and Joe Ciampi for women’s basketball, to make sure we are paying attention to basketball 365 days a year. They visit with coaches and schools and make sure things are taken care of during a busy football season.
We have created more opportunities for coaches to discuss matters of importance. We want them involved and in the forefront.
We have developed more exposure for women’s basketball on national television.
We have finally created a conference showcase event between the SEC and the Big East beginning next December on ESPN. This will give us the kind of exposure of SEC basketball we need early in the year and people will be forced to think about the SEC like they thing of other conferences. It will start Dec. 5-6 of 2007 and continue on Dec. 10-11 of 2008 and Dec. 9-10 of 2009. The format will be four games a year with two doubleheaders at two neutral sites, one in an SEC footprint and one in a Big East footprint. Each team is guaranteed one spot in the showcase, and we are now in the process of determining sites and match-ups.”
Men’s Supervisor Gerald Boudreaux
“I am honored to served as the coordinator of officials for men’s basketball after 20 years on the floor. I appreciate your support this past season. You can come up to me at any time. The more you know, the more it helps out the schools and the fans.
“For the 10th consecutive year, rough play has been a point of emphasis. This is an area of the game that we are not pleased with the progress of in the country. Another point of emphasis is palming the ball and illegal dribbling. What I have been telling our officials is to call the obvious ones. Loose ball recovery has been a point as well. Call fouls in situations where a player comes in and jumps on top of the pile.
“The most significant rule change has been the issue of granting or awarding timeouts when the players are going out of bounds or in the backcourt. Officials are being instructed to not award timeouts for that. This is going to have to take restraint on part of the officials. Because of this, there could be inadvertent whistles. And because of the rule, we can’t award timeouts. I told my officials that anyone who blows a whistle will lose three games. It is a rule that we are going to have to enforce. Another rule change that we are experimenting with is the amount of contact during free throws. We’ve been experimenting with this for the past three years and this year the last block that closes the lane will be a dead zone. Hopefully this will eliminate pushing. We’ll experiment with this during exhibition games.”
Head Coach Mark Gottfried
“Our team has a long way to go. We have a couple of guys who are pretty established. Out of our 12 scholarships, two have had more than one year of experience. I truly believe that our players and coaches view the pre-season rankings as irrelevant. You are going to play and coach just as hard no matter what and I think that you forget about it during the season. The guys that have played one year I view as veterans. Richard (Hendrix) is a special guy. He has done a great job of helping out the younger guys and the guys that haven’t played much establish themselves. I like our point guard. I think that our outside guys are better this year. (Ronald) Steele is a better passer and shooter for us. He has gotten a lot better in the off season and I believe that he is going to have a phenomenal year. He is a catalyst for the team and we can rely on him to take us to the next level. (Brandon) Hollinger is one of those guys that you don’t really figure into an equation but who is always a part of the equation. He is going to play a key role. All of our new guys have done well in practice. In general, the group can help the team. We just need to figure out who needs to do what.
“Anytime that the league does well in the tournament is great, especially when it is not Kentucky. People know that we have other teams in the conference that are good. We talk about how good our league is and you have to buck it up. I don’t think that I pace the season. Of course you have the non conference games, you take a deep breath and get ready to dive into a league that is great. The NCAA Tournament is the greatest show on Earth. The beauty of the tournament is that anyone has the chance to get in and there are always surprise teams. It is that magnitude and fun that make it so great. If you are good enough to be in the tournament, you should feel great.
“The new rules about palming the ball and physical play is not going to have an impact. It is going to be as physical as ever and it has gotten too physical. We have to adjust to it. The officials to a great job, but that’s how these guys are used to playing. High school kids not being allowed to go directly to the NBA means that everyone has to go to college. I don’t know if you can build a team off of guys that don’t know how long they will stay in college.
Senior Forward Jermareo Davidson
“It was never a definite decision (to return this season). I was just weighing my options and seeing how everything went. I looked at some of the other guys at my position in the draft, and I also looked at my future team. I also took into consideration another year of school.”
“It’s pretty cool (being Alabama’s prominent big man). I have to be able to step up and take on that role for my team. There are some things that I need to work on like my strength and being consistent. We have other guys like Richard Hendrix and Ron Steele that can be that guy, too.”
“It’s always motivation. We want to get back to that level (NCAA Tournament). With that ending, we would let Ron (Steele) take that shot every time.”
Junior Guard Ronald Steele
“We have really high expectations. “We don’t read too many of the magazines. We just want to work on getting better as a team. We want to improve in every area.”
“It’s kind of weird (being an upperclassman) because I was a young guy for a while. To have the younger guys come to me and ask me for advice is kind of weird. I think I am growing into that role.”
“It’s tough (the SEC Conference). It’s one of the toughest, if not the toughest conferences in America. It’s not just the top teams. Anyone can beat anyone on any give night.”
Head Coach John Brady
“I think this league has a lot of great coaches who know how to recruit and put teams together that play well. This has been the case for several years, but it showed up especially last year with Florida’s National Championship, LSU in the Final Four and South Carolina winning the NIT. That brought our league to the forefront in a season when people thought the league was going to be down.”
“There are a lot of things that have to happen for us to get back to the Final Four. We have to have no injuries, which I can’t control, and we have to have somebody make key shots a la (former LSU point guard) Darrel Mitchell to win games. Those things have to fall into place for you. It’s a combination of the coaches, players and having things like that happen for you. I like the maturity level, experience and talent of our team. And if all of those other things fall into place, chances are we’ll have another very successful year.”
“I am doing everything I can as a coach to help him (Glen Davis) achieve his goals on the team level and also as an individual. If you look at what he’s gone through and where he is today, it’s a great story. He will be a great guy to have at the next level.”
“Tyrus had the ability to change to game around the basket. I did things you can’t teach. We can’t replace him, but we are going to expand the roles of other guys on the team to help with that. I think Magnum Rolle will surprise some people with his ability to jump and block shots around the basket.”
Junior Forward Glen Davis
“Being around the experience of a Final Four taught me how to act and behave. It also motivated me to be a role model for all those who watch LSU play.”
“No concerns at all (on my weight loss) because 289 pounds is still a lot of weight to push around, and it makes me just that much quicker and agile. I am still a large guy in the post, just more mobile.”
“We (Shaq and I) both play hard and at times dominate our games, but we both play completely different. I do not like the Shaq comparisons because we are so different in the way we play.”
“I wanted to leave my mark on college basketball and it was not quite completed yet, plus I was not the best player that I know I can be. Also, I love college. I have a wonderful time, so why leave?”
Senior Forward Darnell Lazare
“It was a great season. It was great to beat the teams that we beat, and to go to the Final Four was an incredible experience. But, in the same way it is almost bitter sweet because we lost in the Final Four, but it makes us that much more hungry and ready to play this year.”
“We lost two key contributors from last year’s team, but we have Tack Minor healthy again and have added two key transfers for this year’s team.”
“I worked hard all summer, usually three times a day with a lot of time spent in the gym trying to make myself better.”
“We have them (Florida) at home this year, and I believe this year will be our year. We definitely have their number going into this season.”
Head Coach Billy Donovan
“The off season definitely seemed shorter; which is a good thing. Everything else demands time and there are lots to deal with.”
“We all as coaches are searching for that. We know what we are looking for when we are recruiting. We are looking for the talent, but also for the intangibles. Such things like being competitive, tough, unselfish, smart, and being able to sacrifice for each other. You have to have a bunch of guys that want to be coached, listen. Some things work out that way sometimes. We can’t see the intangibles when we are recruiting. We just try to sit down with them and talk to them and see if they are there.”
“Only thing worried about was the team psyche after that. We lost some early. When you lose, things seem to be over-dramatized; likewise when winning. We looked at things when we were losing and winning. We lost three close games because of rebounding and things that we couldn’t handle right. We learned from these games, which became what we needed to have the season that we did.”
“They look to it as a challenge. On one hand, we are hearing that we are ranked high, the defending champion, and even the No. 1 team. And then the other side is asking if they are going to stay hungry, or just complacent. The team is dealing with the expectations side and the human element of being hungry. I think they are excited about all the challenges to come.”
“Kentucky has the ability to be special, great even. They have a great core of guys on the team coming back. They have great guards that bring a competitive level and size to the game. Kentucky is, in somewhat respect, flying under the radar this year. They have a chance to be the best team in the league.”
Junior Forward/Center Al Horford
“I feel that I am more experienced this year and that we are a more experienced team this year too. This year is a different scenario than last year because nobody expected us to win a national championship last year. It is expected of us this year.”
On this year’s games:
“Every game is going to be a war. Our opponents better bring their best because we are going to bring our best every game.”
Senior Guard Lee Humphrey
“We have a lot to prove. It is a new year. Last year and the championship are over. It is going to be tough every game but we have a lot of guys coming back. We have a chance to make another run.”
“All of our guys are good guys. We care about each other and we all want to win. We are focused on winning and when we focus on winning we all know what we have to do to win.”
“Our defense is an area that we can improve. Coach told us about errors we made last year in the Final Four and it showed us that good defense is big for championship games.”
Head Coach Tubby Smith
“We have a new group of young guys we’re excited to have join the Wildcat family. You can see their eagerness and a hunger to learn to grow. I have seen a great receptiveness from our new players that I haven’t seen in a while.”
“I like the way we have been sharing the basketball (in practice so far.) We have guys who are willing to make sacrifices and make that extra pass. But we’re still growing. I am concerned about our intensity on the defensive end. But that’s normal at this point of the year. These guys haven’t had to play defense since last year and we’ve been putting a lot of focus into offense. With the little time we have left, we have a lot of effort to put in.”
“I don’t think you can ever believe you are flying under the radar just because someone else is getting so much attention. Florida and LSU had a lot of success last year, and I couldn’t be happier. It means a lot to our conference. But every year they try to beat us and we try to beat them. Our goals don’t change. We want to win the conference and go as deep as we can into the NCAA Tournament.”
Senior Forward Bobby Perry
“I don’t think any coach or any player in the SEC or the NCAA will look past Kentucky. We have to live up to expectations and play as hard as we can with the guys that we have coming in. I believe we can live up to those expectations. We lost two great guards in Patrick (Sparks) and Ravi (Moss) but we have Joe (Crawford) and Ramel (Bradley) coming back.”
“I don’t like to compare two different teams. You have different teams with different players. We are looking to move forward as one unit with one common goal.”
“The freshmen coming in look great. They are coming into this season with a good mind and they are ready to learn. They have a great attitude coming into this year.”
Junior Forward/Center Randolph Morris
“Last year was a very tough year for me eligibility-wise. Right now I am ready to play from game one. I am ready to capitalize on this with my teammates. Right now I am ready to go and ready to get started.”
“There is a degree to how much we are flying under the radar. I think the media has not been as frantic as they have in the past. It helps to take pressure off the freshman. So there is a degree to flying under the radar.”
“With their (Florida and LSU) success, it made it much more tangible, much more possible for us to get to the Final Four. It made us hungry to achieve the success they had.”
Head Coach Andy Kennedy
“Our expectations are high internally, maybe not so much externally. That is the great thing for us. People don’t realize how special this is for me, being a native Mississippian. This is just a wonderful opportunity for me.”
“I just left a perennial top 20 program. I think Ole Miss can get back to greatness again. Looking at the past, they have had success with Rod Evans and Rob Barnes. They had a great mixture. We just have to find that again to be successful.”
“We have changed the approach. We are going to play pressure basketball. We are going to get after the ball, as well as take it to the basket. I believe that in life, you don’t take a backward approach and allow yourself to be backed into a corner. We are going to take that same approach.”
“I hate to give the coaching speak, but that is what I have to do. I want to see daily improvement. They (the players) are learning about us just like we are learning about them. You have to find out what the other is like. You don’t want to stick a square peg into a round hole.”
“That is why I wanted to bring the two seniors in Todd Abernethy and Bam Doyne. They are not used to winning like they want to. I want them to experience that. I think that it is unfair to look four years down the road at expectations and not be able to include these guys.”
Senior Guard Todd Abernethy
“We are going to be a better team this year and there are a lot of reasons why. The number one reason is our new coach, Andy Kennedy. He is an awesome teacher, an awesome motivator and a great coach. He has given us a lot of confidence this pre-season.”
“We only lost one senior and we have a lot of guys coming back. Dwayne Curtis broke his foot but he will be back with us shortly. We are also very motivated because we saw two SEC teams go to the Final Four that we fought hard against and could have beaten. We only lost by eight points to Florida and we had two chances to beat LSU. We are capable of winning against teams like that. We have a different style this year. We are playing on a different tempo. We are hoping to pick it up on offense and defense.”
“There is a lot of excitement because of the coaching change and I have been really impressed with practice. Our guys are excited to practice and practices have been fun and competitive. We all know you have to practice hard to win.”
Senior Guard Bam Doyne
“There is a totally new outlook this year with our new coach. We believe in him and he has shown us things that will help us this season. He has taught us how to approach the game in a different way and he has shown us how to scout the other teams. He has made us believe in ourselves.”
“We are motivated because we saw two SEC teams make it to the Final Four and it would be a great feeling if we could make it to the Final Four. The SEC is all I know and it is a big conference and all of the teams are strong. Every night is a battle and anybody can beat anybody on any night. You have to give it your all every game.”
“It is exciting to play at home with the home fans and feel the excitement in the air. It is great to represent your school and town.”
TENNESSEE Head Coach Bruce Pearl
Head Coach Bruce Pearl
“After having a big season, you have to try and maintain a level of success and consistency. To gain respect you have to do it again and be consistent. We are a young team. We will progress. I am not focused on the end result. We just have to get better as the season goes on.
“Our schedule is loaded with powerhouses. We are playing a lot of teams that will play in March.”
“Chris (Lofton) is a great shooter. He is the best in the country in contested shots. He is confident and can make plays. I knew about him when I got to Tennessee. I knew that he might leave, but I told him to give it a chance. I had to re-recruit him a little bit. I didn’t treat him any differently than any other player. I treated him just as badly as the rest of them. He made the decision to stay after he and a couple of other players decided to skip out of a study session early. They were all on the court running the next morning and they ran until someone got sick. He called his mother and said that he was going to stay. Because of the discipline, he decided to recommit.”
“I like when people expect more from me and the guys. I don’t think that they should expect so much from guys who have never played college ball. We need to continue to play hard and win. If you do that, the rest will take care of itself.
“We deserve credit for what we did last year. To win the Eastern Division, we beat Florida twice. Knowing that you can compete with teams going to the Final Four, you do ask why not us. I would place Florida and Kentucky at the top of the east. After them you can put the Tennessees and Georgias. Alabama and LSU are on top of the west and Arkansas is talented again this year. The west will keep getting better with teams like Auburn and Ole Miss getting stronger. It is not about where you start in this leaguer, it is how you finish.”
Senior Guard Dane Bradshaw
“They (Florida and LSU) did a great job representing the conference, but in the same sense we (Tennessee) are jealous, because we wish we could have been there.”
“Lack of depth and crucial injuries were big factors (in the NCAA Tournament), but that was not the total reason. We almost seemed satisfied come tournament time, because we had such an improvement in our season compared to the year before that we were not as hungry as we should be. This year after we have experienced the tournament we will be ready to play I think.”
“I would like to be more of a floor leader. We have made great strides as a team in the last few days and we are getting closer to where we need to be.”
Junior Guard Chris Lofton
“It was very exciting to be apart of last season’s experience especially with the NCAA tournament bid and the seed that we got. Also, considering the losing season that we had before last years season makes last year’s experience just that much more special.”
“It is very motivating for our team (to see two SEC teams in the Final Four). We want to be one of those teams so we have to practice harder and perform better in games.”
“(Bruce Pearl is) Very intense, very interactive coach. He shows up at every game that way and never lets up from the time he gets there until the time he leaves. He was the reason we improved so much last season. We were the same team as we were the year before, but with his addition we improved that much more.”