BASKETBALL: Pre-Game Q&A with Tubby Smith

Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith spoke on Wednesday's exhibition versus Northern Kentucky. See what he had to say in regards to the Wildcats first game and what he expects from his team.

On the upcoming game ...

"This is an exhibition game and a practice game to try to figure out where we are. I've been very pleased with our practices. Obviously, at this time of year, there are a lot of things we haven't gotten in yet. We've got four new faces and guys are trying to determine the position they are best suited for. At this point in time, I'm not sure about starters. I think I have a pretty good feel at this point. I know three of them, and probably four, but I'm still debating who will be the starters in that fourth and fifth spot because it's been very competitive. I knew it would be with the type of talent we've recruited and the type of people we have in the program.

On Northern Kentucky…
"When you play against a team like Northern Kentucky with players from this area and who have been here before … I'm looking down here and seeing Derek Smith and Harrison Morton. Derek almost played for us in basketball and did play football here. Harrison Morton played with Brian, my son, at Lexington Catholic. So, there is a lot of familiarity with some of those guys. I know Derek used to play pick-up basketball with some of the guys over the summer. Their coach is in his first season. I'm sure it will be a real experience for his team. It'll be a real experience for our guys, especially our freshman who haven't played in Rupp Arena before. But, again, I've been really pleased with the way they've competed.

On different playing combinations …
"Well, you've got Patrick (Sparks), who can play the point or the two. You have a guy like Ramel (Bradley) who has shot the ball better than we anticipated as an incoming freshman. Rajon (Rondo) has been outstanding with his defensive ability. So, there are a lot of combinations. Not to mention, Ravi Moss has been playing great. Josh (Carrier) has been our leading three-point shooter in practice. Brandon (Stockton) has been playing well. I don't know there's anything that I can say that's going to, I guess, give you any indication of who's going to be doing what. It's just a matter of what I feel like at that particular time and who I feel like can help us at a particular time in the game."

On Rajon Rondo's defensive skills …
"I think he's very talented. I think he's got a lot to learn, but he's got great hands and great quickness and has all the athletic ability. He's already a very good defender. He's going to be a great defender and a very good basketball player."

On playing a college team instead of all-stars in an exhibition …
"I think it will help because they're pretty organized and they'll have a lot of different looks from a defensive and offensive standpoint. That will give us a chance to see how we react and respond and are we recognizing the changes that Northern Kentucky will make in their scheme. I don't know how far along they are. They started the same time we did. Being a new coach, I'm sure he [Bezold] is still trying to implement his system and his style, which is probably similar because he was the assistant coach there before. I'm sure he's looking to do a good job. I think they will do an outstanding job. He has a nice squad returning and he has some good, solid newcomers to his team."

On Ramel Bradley's shooting …
"He's shown me that he can be a great shooter, an excellent shooter. I think when we're looking to play guys in roles when they can help us, we see that. I thought that was one of the things we needed to improve on – outside shooting. Gerald Fitch carried a lot of the outside shooting for us last year and now I feel like we've got – in Kelenna (Azubuike), Josh, Ramel, Patrick and Joe Crawford – we have an excellent group of outside shooters."

On who will do the little things…
"They better all be doing the little things. But Chuck (Hayes) will be doing them and he'll be responsible. There is one common denominator in our practice and that is whatever team Chuck is on wins. It doesn't matter who else you put around him, Chuck wins. He'll be the guy to do the little things."

On the definite starters…
"I know Chuck will start and Kelenna will start. Patrick probably has a leg up to start. After that, Randolph (Morris) has really played well at the post spot. There are lot of different combinations. Do you go big with Lukasz and Randolph and Chuck at the three? That's what we're looking at now. Or, do we go with the quickness and speed of a Ramel, Rajon, Patrick, Kelenna and Chuck or maybe Randolph? So, there is a lot of different combinations that I'm looking at to see which one is best suited for this team as well as getting the proper rotation when guys come in."


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