Last week on these pages, we addressed the need for a point guard on this UK basketball team. That's been evident for most of this season by reason of the fact there was an attempt to convert the offensively aggressive Ramel Bradley into a point guard. That obviously was a failed effort because Tubby Smith then moved Derrick Jasper into the starting lineup at the point. As the competition stiffened, his effectiveness diminished and except for occasional flashes, he has become a maintenance man in an attempt to keep down mistakes.
The need for an effective point guard was never more evident at Vanderbilt on Sunday when the Cats suffered three shot clock violations in the second half alone. The player Bradley that the shot clock was located in an unusual place gave the reason.
McDonald's All-American point guard 5-foot-9 Jai Lucas was in attendance at Wednesday night's Georgia game. While in the stands, he was wooed and serenaded to the chant of ‘we want you, we want you….' by the student section. The last time that was so strongly displayed in Rupp Arena was several years ago when the students wowed Paducah Tilghman linebacker Emerson Wells, who had committed to Michigan University. It worked in that case – he changed his commitment to UK. No doubt, the hope is that it works in this case. It's obvious the need is strong and perhaps, he can see that!
Smith's emphasis has been to keep the ball off the floor (dribbling). "We've been working real hard on ball movement," Smith said. "We've worked real hard on keeping the ball off the floor – passing is the key to good ball movement." He mentioned Crawford, Bradley, and Jasper, who have a strong penchant to pound the ball without getting anything done.
Do you suppose that Smith had his point guard play on display for Lucas last night? Derrick Jasper got 14-minutes of clock time in the Georgia game and likewise Michael Porter got 14-minutes of clock time. How ironic is that Porter gets an even split with Jasper?
Porter was very aggressive taking the ball the basket last night. "Coach always talks about pushing the ball up the court and we did that pretty well tonight," Porter, who got his first taste of post game interview, said. Smith said he was aggressive, perhaps too aggressive offensively for the coaches liking. Smith said he took a bad shot. He said he needs to do what we brought him here for and that's to play defense and if he does he will get more playing time. Smith said he has to pay his dues. "He still has to work on his ball handling and he needs to get stronger," Smith pointed out.
Oklahoma State has been eliminated from Lucas' list of schools and it is strongly believed that if he doesn't go to the University of Maryland he's UK bound.