Cats need to define roles more clearly

In the current game of basketball positions are well defined. Kentucky's players need to better understand the roles they are expected to fill. As Kentucky prepares to meet Louisville Rajon Rondo, as the UK point guard, is the player who's role is most pivotal.

Basketball from yesteryear and the way it is presently defined and how it relates to today is gone through a distinct evolutionary change. ‘The names have been changed to protect the innocent.'

Back then when yours truly O.G. (old guy), was first introduced to the game, basketball was just basketball. To qualify getting on the court, you had to be able to shoot, dribble, pass, rebound and block shots. If all those attributes weren't present, you played in the band or sang in the glee club.

Now, in recent years, the five positions have been defined as the point guard (1), the shoot guard (2), the small or quick forward (3), the power forward (4), and the center (5). When did all this start and what and whom does it benefit?

"I think it started somewhere around the late seventies," said Denny Crum former U of L head coach. "But I didn't use point guards on my team. I wanted guys who could play and I loved big guards because I thought it gave you an advantage because if you didn't have big guys to give you an inside presence, we just ran our big guards such as Lancaster Gordon, Derek Smith, Jeff Hall, and Milt Wagner inside. They could beat anybody even it was a big forward, they could score on anybody."

Joe Hall said when asked about the jargon of defining position 1,2,3,4, and 5: "I think really along about ‘76 or '77 people started identifying positions and point guard and shooting guard. Kyle Macy would have been what you would have called a point guard but Truman Claytor handled the ball almost as much getting the offense started as Macy did. We called Mike Phillips the center and Rick Roby the power forward. Jack Givens was the quick forward. Dirk Minniefield was more of and was the epitome of a point guard. He had great stamina, he could handle the ball, and he was unselfish, yet he could score inside and outside. You couldn't tire Dirk Minniefield out."

We asked Hall does Tubby Smith's so called point guards play the position in the pure sense of the definition, 3D – drive, draw, and dish? He said: "I think they are a little confused on this team as to the true position of the players even the forwards, even the centers. I think that's one of the problems Tubby has in not giving real positions and defining set positions among his personnel. I can see it causing a lot of confusion of the players themselves."

In asking Tubby Smith if he has had more trouble with this team in defining roles, he said yes, "because we have don't have a set group. To lose a frontcourt like we did, you can talk about leadership, you can talk about toughness all year long but to find that combination of finesse and power is still a work in progress. In the Indiana game, none of our post people went to the free throw line. It's embarrassing when we throw the ball in there and they throw it right back out."

Smith said the defining of the role of the point guard is no different than any other year. He said getting to a point, whether it is, Rondo, Ramel Bradley or Patrick Sparks, the guy at the point has got to be setting the tempo from a defensive standpoint. "Rajon has been carrying so much of a load that it's taking something away from his defensive intensity. I thinks that something that started early in the year when we were trying to go more up tempo and score more points we were making a lot of many mistakes defensively. We just weren't very good defensively."

Smith said he wants him (Rondo) to attack and push the ball up the court. He said they have got to have the balance inside and outside when they guarding the three's and are letting him drive to the basket.

Rick Pitino said at Louisville, he doesn't define his starting guards because Brandon Jenkins and Taquan Dean are interchangeable.

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