VAUGHT: Tubby, Cats calm and ready

The last few weeks nothing has seemed to put Tubby Smith into a panic. Two losses to Florida, an overtime win over LSU and a close call against Eastern Kentucky did not cause him to berate his team.

The last few weeks nothing has seemed to put Tubby Smith into a panic. Two losses to Florida, an overtime win over LSU and a close call against Eastern Kentucky did not cause him to berate his team.

Today he admitted there is a reason at this time of year not to overreact.

"You want players to play with intensity, but they also have to be relaxed. There is enough pressure. A coach has to maintain a level of ... I don't know. But guys can get so excited about being here (in the NCAA Tournament) and so hyper, that you can't let the adrenaline take over," Smith said today. "You have to keep that balance. As much as you can control as a coach, you have to control."

He noted not only did the media coverage increase, but the travel routine changed. Instead of being gone one night for a road game and then back home, the Cats were out five days last week and will face the same routine this week.

That's why he gave the players Sunday and Monday off to get back in a normal routine with classes starting back Monday.

"You have to keep as organized and control as much as you can to keep them focused on your mission and goal. Leadership from the head coach is critical at this point," Smith said.

But he also knows he has to practice what he preaches. That's why when I asked if freshman guard Ramel Bradley was back at full strength after Smith had said he was a little under the weather last weekend, the coach turned the attention to a rap song Bradley sang that WLEX-TV in Lexington ran on the air.

"After I listened to his rap, he's really under the weather. He is really sick," Smith said.

Can he do anything about that?

"Put a muzzle on him. Like Shagari (Alleyne) said, it was the worst rap I have ever heard," Smith said. "If you wonder why I did not let them (the freshmen) talk before, now you know."

Then there was another media member who asked him how he might stop 7-foot Utah center Andrew Bogut.

"What do you think? I am sure you have some suggestions," Smith said.

That's a more relaxed Smith than we have seen at this time of year in past seasons. Will it make a difference in the Austin Regional this weekend? The guess here is yes because a team normally reflects the coach's personality and the confidence Smith is showing he has in his team is bound to be a plus for the players going into their most important weekend of the year.


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