BASKETBALL: Monday's with Tubby

Just four days after earning a 77-59 win over Georgia State, Kentucky returns to Rupp Arena to face former UK assistant Mike Sutton's Tennessee Tech squad. This marks the second meeting between UK's Tubby Smith and his former assistant. UK defeated the Golden Eagles, 108-81, in Rupp Arena last November. Tubby spoke with the media on Monday.

On the Georgia State game…
"We're trying to make the necessary adjustments after the game the other night. I thought there were a lot of things we needed to address. Guarding the three-point shot is something we've tried to work hard on and something we'll have to do a better job with against a good Tennessee Tech team. In the game against Georgia State, Michael Perry and his staff did a good job of running things at us we hadn't seen. They gave us some looks to work on and exposed some of the areas we needed to improve in, like taking care of the basketball. After being very good with our ball handling in the first half, the second half, we were pretty shaky with our turnovers.

On Tennessee Tech…
"They're 1-2 this year, but they are still a very talented team. They will take you off of the dribble, as most teams are doing now, and they're looking to penetrate and pitch. They have a few guys that can make jump shots in transition, especially three-point shots. I know we scored a lot of points last year when we played Tennessee Tech, and Mike Sutton's team likes to get up and down the court. I hope scoring won't be a problem, but scoring has been a concern for us. We're just not getting the outside production and the outside jump shooting we expect. We need someone else to step up and make shots. Kelenna (Azubuike) hasn't shot the ball well from the outside. The rest of the guys have shot it but just haven't gotten enough opportunities and made enough three-point shots. Tennessee Tech will be a test for us because they will mirror some of the things we do. Mike Sutton was here for a number of years, and with his team, I see a lot of the same things we're trying to do. He changes his defenses. Right now, they're a better three-point shooting team and, a better shooting team than we are. That's a big part of their offensive attack. With a player like Willie Jenkins, they're bringing in one of the top players in the OVC. He's putting some good numbers up on the board, averaging 19 points a game and is doing a good job. He's a guy we'll have to contain."

On Chuck Hayes…
"We probably should have gone back to Chuck more. That's Chuck and his leadership. He wants to have an excellent year. He's kind of put us on his back. He puts the team on his back and says ‘I'll do everything I can', averaging about 11 rebounds a game and you can't ask for much more than that. Our guys have a tendency to stand around and watch him rebound instead of getting involved. We need to do a better job there as far as rebounding the ball. Chuck's ability to score in so many different ways is what makes him so versatile. He will create offense for other people, as well. He's one of the best assist guys at his size in the country. We like the ball in his hands as much as possible. He's a real iron man in that he can play every minute on the court if he has to."

On coaching against his son, Saul…
"I've done that a lot over the years, having coached against my sons in the past in some form or fashion either as players or as coaches. Last year, (oldest son) G.G. was down there. It won't be any different than anyone else down there. I'll be proud because Mike Sutton has given him an opportunity. He's working with someone I really care a lot about in Mike Sutton. Mike has been like a brother to me over the years. He couldn't be in better hands and he couldn't learn from a better coach and a better person."

On whether he influence Saul in his decision to play professionally or coach...
"He had to figure that out on his own. He had been out of school for two or three years with the NBDL. He gave that a shot and finished what he had to finish here academically and made a final decision with what he wanted his career to go."

On keeping the team's focus on Tennessee Tech…
"We have to be vigilant and let the players know you respect every opponent, play one game at a time and one practice at a time and you go from there. We have a lot to work on. This isn't like a veteran team with five seniors. We're still a team that's trying to find its identity and learn and mature. It wouldn't matter whether it's (North) Carolina or Morehead (State). You just want to get better with each game. We've seen that type of progress but it's not enough. "

On the qualities Saul has that will make him a solid coach…
"He is a very intelligent kid. He knew the plays inside and out growing up in the household and being around competitive sports all his life. He can also communicate. He's a great communicator and he doesn't mind vocally expressing his opinion. He also has a great work ethic. In everything he's ever attempted, he has finished it. Those are characteristics that will help anyone.

On the team's recent offensive woes…
"They know we're not playing well. We're just not putting many points on the boards and not shooting for a high percentage. It's easy to get their attention. We're not playing to our potential. We're not playing to the level we know we're capable of playing. I don't know if it's just the inexperience that's coming out. But, we have to get production from our other veteran players as well. But, when you're playing the freshmen and sophomores as much as we've been doing, it's going to take more time. We're missing open people and not passing the ball inside like we should. Chuck gets off to a great start the other night and then he doesn't even get the ball."

On the possibility of Lonnell DeWalt joining his team…
"I talked to him this morning and had a visit with him. He'll be by and watch practice this afternoon and that will be the extent of it. We'll evaluate him and see if he can help us and if we can help him.

"I don't have a timetable, but we'll see. We'll go out and watch him run up and down the court some in the next day or two. We have a game tomorrow, so he won't do much today. We'll see throughout the week. I saw him play last year. He's a pretty good rebounder, but it takes a lot of time for a young man, especially a freshman, who has all the things he has to get done from a classroom standpoint and with his football expectations and with what his coaching staff expects in the offseason. That's a lot to throw at him."

On the freshmen…
"They are making some mistakes, but we're all making mistakes. That's why you work so hard in the preseason, to instill it (the game plan), that they run the play in the course of the game. You have to learn the counters and react to make the best decision. You have to respond and react to the counter the defense does. Some offenses may not be suitable for this group, so we need to narrow our focus and narrow the number of things we try to do. Otherwise, they've done a good job of being coachable and going out there and carrying it through. They've been able to do that so far. It's not as good as I'd like to see it done, but they've done it as well as a freshman or underclassman could do."


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