VAUGHT: Freshmen expected to perform better

Tubby Smith expects freshmen guards Rajon Rondo and Ramel Bradley to play much better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the SEC Tournament.

Tubby Smith expects freshmen guards Rajon Rondo and Ramel Bradley to play much better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the SEC Tournament.

"They've got to do a better job," Smith said. "I think they learned a lot at the SEC. That's why I think the tournament in Atlanta with the dome atmosphere was good for them. We had a great following, but it won't be the same (in the NCAA). That will be an element that will help them remain calm and stay within the system."

Smith noted that Bradley and Rondo did not play in any postseason tournaments last year. Bradley was at a prep school and Rondo played for Oak Hill. The SEC Tournament was their reminder about what tournament basketball is about.

Smith felt both let the enthusiastic Kentucky crowd sometimes dictate plays they made — or tried to make.

"Eastern Kentucky is a team with the potential to beat us if we are not ready," Smith said. "But I am more concerned with the psychological part that goes with playing in a tournament because it can be overwhelming, especially for first-year players."

Smith wants his two freshmen point guards to be more "shot selection conscious" for themselves and teammates. He wants them to play better defense, but also to force the action with smart decisions.

"Florida had a lot to do with us not attacking (in the SEC title game) with its transition defense," Smith said. "I would like to see them (Rondo and Bradley) put more pressure on the ball where they can create turnovers and some easy baskets.

"I think they are both going to play a lot better. They have to. Just knowing more about what to expect in a tournament is going to help them."

Rondo agrees and also realizes point guard play is critical now.

"We both have to make good decisions and make sure we run the team the way coach Smith wants," Rondo said. "I've always heard that to play well in tournaments, you've got to have good guard play. That starts with the point guard. It's not pressure, just the way it is."


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