VAUGHT: Give Tubby credit

It's been easy — and popular — this summer to second-guess a lot of things about the Kentucky basketball program. Most of the time, Tubby Smith has had no one but himself to blame for the constructive criticism.

However, let's give Smith credit for finally sharing some positive input about next season that has to give UK fans some reason for optimism. Smith admitted Monday on the Southeastern Conference teleconference that he planned to move Joe Crawford to shooting guard — the position Crawford wanted to play when he came to UK — and was open to using Randolph Morris more at power forward — the spot he likely would play in the NBA.

What Smith didn't mention was that these two moves would also allow him to shift Bobby Perry, who played well at the end of the year, from power forward where he was often overpowered to the small forward spot where his skills would be even more of an asset.

If these moves work and Ramel Bradley — or Derrick Jasper — can adequately run the point, then the Cats could be better next season despite the loss of so many players from last year's team.

Sure, the moves have a lot of questions. Crawford was often a defensive liability at small forward. Can he really guard a smaller, quicker shooting guard? Morris got in foul trouble playing center and has limited shooting range. Can he avoid fouls guarding quicker players and make enough outside shots to force defenses to respect him?

But just talking about the moves sends the right message to fans and players. UK fans are desperate for some reason to be optimistic. This shows Smith is thinking ahead and willing to make changes to avoid another 13-loss season. It also tells players the coach might be more open-minded and flexible.

So let's give Smith a break this week —even if he did bash those of us who enjoy the Internet message boards — and applaud him for thinking ahead and looking for the necessary ways to make sure Kentucky has a far better team next season than it did last year.


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