Today was a big day in Kentucky basketball lore as Tubby Smith decided to confront the axis of evil by going after its most vicious proponent….the internet. UK Athletics hosted an internet chat with Tubby and it provided you the internet surfer, the ability to ask questions to Tubby Smith, which were then filtered to remove anything interesting, and then submitted for his answers. In all actuality, I thought Tubby did a good job, but the answers did have a bit of “coach speak”. I have thus reprinted the text of the talk, along with a little “translation” for the reader to show what I believe Tubby was really thinking while answering these questions…..
UKathletics.com : Thanks, Coach Smith, for taking the time to answer some questions.
Tubby Smith : I appreciate everyone taking the time to post their questions. Sorry I didn’t get to all of them. Maybe we can do this again sometime. I’m back on the road recruiting this week, but I wanted to touch base with all our great fans before the summer slipped away. Enjoy the warm weather and we’ll see everyone this fall. Go Cats!
TRANSLATION: I absolutely hate that I have to do this, but because of the whole overreaction to the Myspace fiasco and my comments about the internet being filled with a lot of crap, I am being forced to listen to these silly questions. I have been promised that these questions have been screened as thoroughly as at a George W Bush town meeting, so hopefully this will go smoothly. Lets get this done quickly so that I can go recruit and not deal with any more questions about whether we will “run more.”
Mo : I am big KY basketball fan and I believe in your strategy; as any program we all have expectation for the program. I also think everyone set goals for a year. I like to know what are your goals for KY basketball this coming season.
Tubby Smith : As always, our goal is to win championships. We’ve won a lot of them at Kentucky, but we want to win more. We’d like to get back to the Final Four. That’s one of our goals every year. The ways we reach those goals is get better in certain areas. We have to improve our all-around toughness. When you look at last year’s team, we got beat on the boards too many times. That has to be improved. We also have to get to the foul line and make those shots. Those are areas we need to get better in. And if we improve in those areas, we’ll win.
TRANSLATION: This is a really stupid question Mo. Of course we want to win….what did you think I was going to say, our goal was to lose? And by the way, we have won a lot in case you folks have forgotten. But I do appreciate “Mo” saying that I have a “good strategy”. That compliment will go right up there with my Unanimous Coach of the Year awards in 2003, let me tell you….
Scott Melton : Who is going to be your new point guard?
Tubby Smith : Ramel Bradley, Derrick Jasper or Michael Porter. I have faith in all three of those guys. Ramel brings an outside scoring ability to the position. He’s capable of being an excellent passer. He’s a different player than Rajon. But we have the ability to have a lot of different guys bring the ball up the court, because of the versatility we have on the roster. Ramel needs to think about setting other people up more … once he does that, he’s going to be outstanding.
TRANSLATION: I cannot tell you how happy I am that Ramel Bradley is the new point guard of the team. Sure he shoots too much and is a bit wild, but you know what, I like him and he isnt a diva. Not saying anyone else was…..but Ramel at least isnt. And as far as I know, Doug Bibby has no connection to him. So if you see me doing jumping jacks the first time Ramel is announced in the starting lineup, you know why.
Chris Harper : Who will take the leadership role on the team this year?
Tubby Smith : That’s one thing that was a concern last year. Everyone has be a leader, but Ramel and Bobby have to be very influential because of the type of people they are and the roles they have on the team.
TRANSLATION: Last year the closest thing we had to a leader was Ravi Moss, and he often was too busy flirting with the cheerleaders. Bobby Perry is a smart kid and he will lead….and Ramel will make people laugh….combine those two and we might have one Chuck Hayes.
Chris Valvo : You mentioned last year that BIG changes would happen in the 2006-2007 season. Can you give specifics and do these changes include a faster tempo and full-court pressure? Thanks Coach.
Tubby Smith : When we talked about changes, we talked in terms of things that would make our program better. We’ve added a new strength coach, which has helped. We have a stronger commitment and a better attitude from our players this summer. And when you play well together, you tend to play at a faster tempo. Changing the mentality is sometimes more important that changing the names. The goal is always the same … to win.
TRANSLATION: Oh wow, what a shock! Somebody asked me if I was going to run more. I am sorry Chris Valvo, but did someone die and make you the new John Wooden? Run, run, run….all you people want me to do is run. Look, you try running with Woo, Shagari and Patrick Sparks on the floor….give me a freakin break. We scored more points than Rick Pitino last year….but oh yeah I forgot….he recruited Oliver Simmons, so he must know more than me….
Andrew Blakefield (#1ukfan) : Who will be the starters?
Tubby Smith : If we started today it would be Ramel at the point, Joe at the two, Bobby and Randolph. That final position could be Sheray at the four. Or Jared or Lukasz at the five. One of the freshmen might step in that mix as well. We have a few months before we have to finalize that.
TRANSLATION: Look, we have four good players on this team and a bunch of freshman. I am PRAYING that between Carter, Woo and Thomas, we can scrounge up one player out of the group. If not, I seriously may offer Tyrone Nash’s little sister a scholarship….cant anyone around here get a rebound????
Brad : Hi Coach! What kind of effect do you think the practice facility will have on the program?
Tubby Smith : It will help with scheduling issues we’ve had surrounding practices in the past. When you are teaching, you want to eliminate distractions. The new facility will help eliminate distractions. From a recruiting standpoint, it will be state-of-the art and should make a tremendous impression on the guys we bring to campus. I’m very excited about the new facility. It’ll be best of its kind in the nation.
TRANSLATION: What kind of effect will it have? Well have you ever been in Memorial? Whenever we arent sharing the court with the intramural volleyball championships and the Ballroom Dancing class, the wooden backboards tend to hold up nicely…..yeah, I think we might be better off in the new place.
Olivia : What Impact do you see Joe Crawford playing this year.
Tubby Smith : Joe had a big impact last year as a sophomore, despite playing injured most of the season. He’s probably our best pure jump shooter. He can score a number of ways and create opportunities for others. With another year of experience and being healthy, I think you’ll see a very good Joe Crawford. That’s my expectation.
TRANSLATION: The key with Joe Crawford is to try and keep him from transferring after every game. Recently we have been able to do that….hopefully that success will continue this season.
BJ , Lewisburg, KY : I recently read a comment by Rajon Rondo on ESPN.Com saying that he thought this would be a better “TEAM” this year just wondering 1st-why he would make that statement and 2nd do you think it is a true statement. Thanks Tubby I am a big fan.
Tubby Smith : I think Rajon didn’t think we reached our potential last year as a team. There were a lot of distractions last season. Rajon understands that we could have all done things differently last year. I’m very happy for Rajon and know that he’ll do a great job in the NBA. He’ll always be a Wildcat.
TRANSLATION: Yeah I saw what Rajon said. Who is he kidding? Wonder why we will be a better team? Maybe because we will have a point guard who….oh forget it. Rajon will be great in the NBA because no one tries and there is very little teamwork…..oh did I say that out loud???
Jan Kuhn : How would you compare this years class of freshman coming to U.K to the class of two years ago?
Tubby Smith : This class doesn’t have all the hype that that class had. That class had three Mcdonald’s all-americans. This group is very excited to be here. They are a hard-working, focused group … both athletically and academically. I expect good things from this group.
TRANSLATION: Oh you want to compare this year’s group to two years ago? Well lets see, we dont have any players in this group who will declare for the draft after one year without telling us, will transfer in the middle of a game to another school or who will play below their potential while telling their high school coach to publically criticize me. HMMM I think I will take this year’s group.
Tom Gray : What was your favorite part about the Sydney Olympics? I had two – the Opening Ceremony and Gold Medal Day on September 29, 2000.
Tubby Smith : The opening day was just outstanding. After that, we were focused on the games, but the atmosphere leading up to the competition was really special. Walking into that stadium with all the other countries represented was exciting.
TRANSLATION Hey Tom, I dont kno why you are asking me this question, but it is good to see you back posting on Kentucky Sports Radio’s blog. Tell Greg Hoover I said to stick it and give T. Walters a break….he is a good guy. And remember, a stat a day keeps the doctor away.
Miranda : Hi Tubby! What is the one thing that has you most excited about this upcoming season?
Tubby Smith : I know our players are going to come back strong from last year. Right now our guys are working hard to prove that we are better than we were last season.
TRANSLATION The most excited thing? Mitch Barnhart has promised me no more chats once the season starts….oh yeah and I hear they are finally going to produce some new Kentucky Sports Radio shows….its about time!!!
bigblue cat07 : will we see morris playing the 4 spot with carter at 5 this year and perry at the 3 sounds good on paper could luck coach
Tubby Smith : We can make anything look good on paper. Randolph’s development is going to be critical. Can he play without fouling? Can he play the four? Those are critical. Jared and Lukasz are both going to contribute. We probably would have redshirted Jared had we known that Randolph was coming back last year. Jared is very capable of stepping in and starting. In our offense, the four and the five are really interchangeable.
TRANSLATION Yeah on paper, Richard Cheeks looked like a good professor and we see how that turne doubt. I hope we can play Randolph at the four, because Sheray makes me sleepy. But that means either Carter or Woo at center. We will try it, but Jared will break in half and Woo will foul while trying to check in, so I wouldnt hold my breath.
Josh Myers : How well will Jasper, Meeks, Porter, and Stevenson do this year? Can they pick up the offense quickly and score? Can we see alot of playing time from them or possibly even a starting job for one?
Tubby Smith : Those are all issues we’ll look at when practice starts. All four freshmen are capable of playing right away. We have a good nucleus returning, so the competition will be tough. The guards are big, physical and versatile. We should have more scoring from the perimeter from that group. The size of our guards will allow us to trap down better than we did last year. Any of those could start if they do what we ask them to do.
TRANSLATION Trust me folks, these guards are good and Stevenson will be fine. But I HAVE to get some good forwards and I am not being helped by you idiots posting on the myspace accounts. Please stop….you look foolish. I dont need you telling these kids that they will get girls that you cant even dream of having in order to bring these kids to Kentucky. And plus if they dont come, I am sure Bobby Perry has some more cousins.
Chris : Coach, I’m very excited about the team, including four great-looking freshmen. I don’t know much about Michael Porter. Could you tell me a little bit about him and what position (1G or 2G) you see him primarily playing? Thanks.
Tubby Smith : Michael is a combo guard who could easily play the point. He was a football player in high school, so he’s tough and will defend well. He’s a leader and will be one of our better passers. He understands the game very well .. he played for his father, Gary Porter. I think he’ll be at the point for us.
TRANSLATION Michael Porter is going to be pretty good….and not just Brandon Stockton good, but really good. In a few years, you folks will remember this “find” and say, “hey maybe Tubby knew what he was doing when he went off the beaten path”. I mean Gerald Fitch, Eric Daniels, Adam Will…..ok well you cant win them all….but his dad’s name was Tex, so you gotta give me that….
Chris Harper : What player could be the most improved from last year?
Tubby Smith : It’s hard to tell at this point, but I think it could be Jared Carter. A lot of folks need to improve, and they’ve been working hard to get better. Bobby Perry came on strong at the end of last season, but I think Jared may be our most improved guy.
TRANSLATION Jared Carter will be better, but really I guess he couldnt be much worse. I mean he played behind Shagari for goodness sake. And yes, I do miss the big fella…..sure he was real slow, never went to class and rebounded worse than Preston Lemaster, but he was sweet. And now we are dangerously low on our “awkward 7 footers brigade”, so we have to be careful.
Chris Duncan : Tubby, Big Fan, just curious to know if Morris has developed more of an over the shoulder game, seemed showing the ball for that turnaround he likes got him blocked alot.?
Tubby Smith : That’s a good question, Chris. One of the things we’re trying to get him to work on is a jump hook from both sides. It would be a devastating weapon for Randolph. He’s been working really hard this summer with our new strength coach, Scott Holsoppole. Randolph has to learn to have his defender sealed when he receives the ball, which will give him the ability to go either left or right with a jump hook.
TRANSLATION Doesnt anyone not named Chris have a question? And this is actually a basketball question…..look, I wish Randolph could develop a jump hook….but I also wish Ramel Bradley would pass, Joe Crawford would guard somebody, Bobby Perry would make a layup and Woo would run for President of the United States. But we cant have everything Chris….as anyone who has seen Rick Pitino’s hairline can attest.
So there you go folks….hope that was helpful. The thoughts behind the answers….stay tuned for more on KSR!!!!