DEMAREE: Kentucky needs to get to the point

Is it the point? That isn't the point! Where is the point? That's just the point! Now let's get to the point (guard)! Three months ago, who would ever though the University of Kentucky basketball team would be talking about them looking for a point. Many Kentucky fans are perplexed when the staff is going about getting a point guard in this recruiting class, no less a 5-foot-9 one in Jai Lucas.

But by all accounts, Jai Lucas can really play! The focus has been on filling a void at the three and four position. Yes, there's a dire need for stronger performers at those positions but it has become obvious that the need for a good point guard is equally paramount.

Kentucky has missed on a boatload of forward/centers in the last three years – Deon Thompson, Brandan Wright, and Tyler Hansbrough, all at North Carolina. Then there's Thaddeus Young of Georgia Tech, Tasmin Mitchell of LSU, Korvortney Barber of Auburn, Dan Werner of Florida, Brandon Rush of Kansas and the list goes on. In the guard category, there's Isaiah Swann and Jason Rich lost to Florida State.

Kentucky's issues may revolve around the so-called "point" guard, though. So when did the title point guard come into vogue? Former University of Louisville head coach Denny Crum said he couldn't remember when it came into vogue because in 1986 he won the NCAA Championship without what is defined as a point guard. He had Milt Wagner and Jeff Hall at guards. Joe Hall said he won the title with Truman Claytor and Kyle Macy, neither, point guards. Rick Pitino won a title with Anthony Epps, not a pure point guard.

We like to think of point guards as Three-D men – drive, draw, and dish. So why did these situations work in the aforementioned cases? The difference is that in every case there was championship caliber talent on those starting fives. In Kentucky's case there's a need for a Three-D man to make everybody better on this Wildcat team.

Kentucky doesn't have a Wayne Turner or a Cliff Hawkins, former UK point guards who played special roles. Each of those guys could score enough to keep defenses from playing five on four and could do the other things from the point to make their team better. Each one was a lock down defender to the point of defensively shutting their man down.

With all due respect to Kentucky's Derrick Jasper, who's just a freshmen, he is not presently capable of doing the things we just mentioned. "Derrick's trying to dribble in closer to the basket," Tubby Smith said. "Now, you can't get the ball inside – you jam things up. Jasper's not confident in shooting the ball. I'm hollering shoot the ball, why did you pass it?"

In essence, when Jasper gets close to the basket, he has to shoot sometimes. In 27 minutes against LSU, Jasper took zero shots. Against very good teams, that just won't fly. Jasper has some talent that may some day in the future be channeled in the direction of wing-forward. And his shooting will come along, we have no doubt.

At the present time, Smith is courting hard, point guard Jai Lucas and strong forward Patrick Patterson to fill the two most pressing needs. In the unfortunate event these attempts fail, what is the backup plan and will Smith get the point? Only time will tell.

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