Smith continued--"We won't be a very different team," he said. "Not much. We lacked physicality on the team last year, and we're trying to find guys like Sheray Thomas--who's looking really good, and has gained weight back to 240 pounds--and Rekalin Sims (to provide it)."
Kentucky's teams have been highly successful the last three years, winning more games in college basketball than any other team, and advancing to the Elite Eight two out of the last three years. Coach Smith credited team chemistry, and admitted that winning so many games was not totally expected. "It's been a pleasant surprise for us to win as many games as we've done the last three years."
For the second year in a row, Smith's Wildcats were named the preseason pick to win the SEC, gathering 28 of 33 media votes, after several years of picking Kentucky 2nd or worse in the SEC East. "Do you know what this is," he asked, after being handed the results. "It's a piece of paper. Because they keep score on the scoreboard, you have to predict these things, but it's just a piece of paper."
Starting point guard Rajon Rondo agreed--in a way. "I don't feel we should be the favorite every year just because we're Kentucky," Rondo suggested. Then he paused, and changed direction almost as quickly as he does with his crossover dribble--"but this year we should be the preseason number 1 (in the SEC)."
Kentucky is the defending SEC regular season champion., won 28 games last season, and was a heartbreak double overtime loss away from the Final Four. Maybe having a team that's not "very different" from that one isn't so bad after all.