VAUGHT: Ford taking full advantage of spotlight

Since Ford's Colonels are a No. 15 seed, they normally would not have received a lot of national publicity going into the tournament since only four No. 15 seeds have ever won a tournament game. But put Eastern against Kentucky and the Colonels have received a lot of media attention that should help Ford's program.

While it might have been nice to see Kentucky playing someone other than Eastern Kentucky to start NCAA Tournament play, it has worked out well for Eastern coach Travis Ford in one way.

Since Ford's Colonels are a No. 15 seed, they normally would not have received a lot of national publicity going into the tournament since only four No. 15 seeds have ever won a tournament game. But put Eastern against Kentucky and the Colonels have received a lot of media attention that should help Ford's program.

Ford has taken full advantage of the attention. I just hope others paid as much attention Monday to what he had to say about Kentucky coach Tubby Smith.

"Coach Smith is somebody I admire and respect a tremendous amount," Ford, a former UK point guard, said. "I enjoyed playing for him (when he was an assistant coach at Kentucky). He spent a lot of individual instruction with me working on my game.

"Once I got into coaching, he welcomed me with open arms. He invited me to practice or his office. He is a wonderful coach, but not many get to see the behind the scenes look at coach Smith and how nice he is to former players. He'll take your phone call any time, go out of his way to see you if he's at the same event. He's a very personable guy. He's someone I admire and respect for the way he'll take time to say hello to us (former players) when he could be doing so many other things."

So what does he think about Smith's team that he has to face Thursday?

"They are a great basketball team. Their defense is incredible," Ford said. "Something that is overlook at lot is that they are great in transition. They can really get up and down the court and their defense creates a lot of offense. They are an aggressive, physical team. They have big, athletic, physical players.

"They have shooters that catch fire at times. They have a point guard who create shots for scorers. They don't have a lot of weaknesses. There is a reason they won SEC this year and have the record they have. They are just a great team, which is what you would expect from one of coach Smith's teams."


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