Crawford confident Cats will be better

If you wonder whether Joe Crawford will be a better player or not this year, let him provide the answer for you.

"I know I am going to be a better player. I think my conditioning and strength are both a lot better. And having two years of experience under my belt makes me a better player," Crawford, a junior guard, said during today's Media Day. "I think this is the most comfortable I have ever felt during my time at Kentucky. Instead of being coached, I am also helping coach the younger players this year. That's a big difference in me. I am confident enough to help other people, and coach (Tubby) Smith wants me doing that."

There's also one other big reason Crawford says he'll be better -- he's going back to shooting guard. Instead of having to guard bigger, more physical players at small forward, he'll now be matched against players more his own size.

Then there is the motivation of last year's 13-loss season. "I think the biggest motivator for all of us is just the season we went through last year. There were times we were a good team and showed we could beat anybody. We have some of those same players back. We have Randolph (Morris) back. We have Ramel (Bradley) back. I am back. Bobby (Perry) is back."

Crawford knows Smith expects more from him and classmates Morris and Bradley. "He has put us in more of a leadership role. He has given us the ball. He's talking to us and showing us how to do certain things he wants us to do and telling us what to tell other people. You can tell he expects more and trusts us more."

That "trust" along with what Crawford perceives as better team chemistry has the junior convinced UK is going to be far better than most college basketball analysts think. He's even drawing on last year's national championship team at Florida for inspiration.

"I think we are going to be better. There is always a team people look over every year. Last year it was Florida. This year it is Kentucky," he said. "At times last year we showed signs of being a great team. Our freshmen are a lot better than people know. Chemistry is a big deal, too. That's really going to help us, too."

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