Smith said the assets of UK's big men are going to be critical in a game going against one of the taller players we have faced this year. "Not only is he tall, but he is talented," Smith said of Bogut, "and a guy like Randolph (Morris) who is a freshman will be challenged to be at his very best."
Smith added, "Morris is going to need help. Obrzut and Shagari will have to step up when Morris is on the bench. We cannot afford to drop off when Randolph is out of the game."
Morris is still the work in progress. We have seen the progress of Morris accelerate as the season has unfolded, albeit sometimes a laborious process. Nevertheless, in recent games the Atlanta native revealed an ability to excel at a high level. He is learning the need to play with much more intensity and fire in SEC-levels of play, unlike high school where he no doubt found the sledding significantly smoother.
Inexperienced big men frequently fail to read double teams developing and finding that open player in those situations can sometimes mean the difference between a win and loss. "Randoph needs to be a little more conscious of shot selection and feeling the double team and kicking the ball back out."
Shagari Alleyene understands that as well as anyone. "Randolph is (going through) a learning process, just like the rest of us," he said.
"Randolph needs to trust us that we are going to come down and trap," Chuck Hayes stated.
Earlier in the year Morris was doing a lot more reaching on defense, another common characteristic of freshmen big men, "Most big guys want to block the shot but they have to learn to move their feet," Smith said. "He is committing unnecessary fouls being aggressive – he has trouble with mobile post players. He needs to play a lot smarter and make better decisions."
Foul trouble is exactly what Morris needs to avoid against Utah. A daunting task given he will likely draw Bogut as an assignment and anyone that has seen Utah play, knows that the offense goes to Bogut early and often, so Randolph will likely have his work cut out handling the All American from Australia.
To Smith's credit, he has not put a lot of extra pressure on Morris through the media. Partly out of necessity, Smith has shown extraordinary patience with Morris waiting for him to develop into the player we have seen in the past few games. Its well document that consistent rebounding has been a major concern with this team's ability to be the best it can be. Morris' overall rebounding has improved in the NCAA tournament, however, and a strong showing in this area on Friday is a major key to UK's ability to advance beyond Utah.
KSR welcomes Lonny Damaree to its staff. Lonny has been a Community Voice columnist for thirteen years. He is a former columnist for The Cats' Pause as well as a co-publisher for Inside Wildcat Championship Football for six years. He most recently wrote for Inside Kentucky's magazine after a brief stint with Big Blue Nation. Lonny is also a contact post-game liason journalist for Cumulus Broadcasting and 590 WVLK. He can be heard throughtout Lexington from 6-7 on friday evenings with Tim Woodburn. Lonnie's column will also be seen in Kentucky Sports Report's May issue.