SEC: Tubby's Flying

By Doug Kroll - October 25, 2006

One thing's for sure about Media Day's: sometimes the plan you may have about what to write gets thrown out the window during an interview. That's what happened today while talking to Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith. From what i heard before talking to him from others that had been graced by Tubby's presence before, it sounded like it was going to be quite the time. Well, it sure was.

Surprisingly Randolph Morris wasn't the lead conversation with the reporters who surrounded Smith (by far the most attention of any). Instead, it was his passion for flying that got things underway. Believe it or not, Tubby wants to learn how to fly, in his spare time, which as a head coach of a major college basketball team, is mainly non-existent. Being chartered down here from Lexington on a small plane, Smith raved about being able to go in the cockpit. After all one has to remember how much flying these coaches actually do each year, aside from the travel to and from road games.

"I fly so much that I've learned to get myself indulged into something to keep myself distracted," Smith said. "Especially after having that tragic accident in Lexington, it makes you a little concious about flying. But otherwise, I've always wanted to fly a plane myself, I've always wanted to be a pilot. Whenever there's a single pilot, I like to get up there with him because I don't like flying that way. Need to make sure he's staying awake."

When it came to discussing actual basketball-related topics, Tubby wasn't too high on his boys, who have their first exhibition game of the season already coming up a week from tomorrow. There is a feeling that this Wildcat team will fly under the radar. It's almost as if people are saying that the torch has been passed from Kentucky being the premiere team in the league, to teams like Florida, LSU, and even Tennessee. After having such high expectations flounder last season, it's not a surprise that Smith is going into this year with a sense of caution. When told by one reporter that other coaches from the league feel Kentucky will be real good, Smith replied with a loud sarcastic laugh and said, "That's what they said last year."

"I like what we're doing, I like where we are," Smith said about starting the season very early. "I just wish that we had more time. When it comes to zones and presses, we're just starting to get to that stuff. We haven't really put in any of our man-to-man offenses."

Meanwhile, one part that was missing for nearly half of last year is Randolph Morris. After serving a suspension, Morris is back, and his mere presence will have an effect on this team.

"The key is that you know what you have, he's there," Smith said of Morris. "It's not just the coaching staff that knows, but every other player knows their role. He is our most talented post player, and one of the better athletes on the team. He can really make a difference, as he has a real inside presence, offensively and defensively. So, you can plan your practices, you can plan your schedule, and how you're going to play. He's had a good summer, working hard, and I'm sure he's anxious and ready to go. He came on at the end of the season and had some good games after he came back and got back into the flow of things."

Morris himself is excited to get the opportunity to have a full year ahead of him, instead of starting his year in January last season.

"I'm extremly aware of the good opportunity that I have," Morris said. "I'm going to make the most of it, and I'm aware of the challenges. It's going to be a great season. It seems like it was world's away. Sometimes I forget that I was suspended, and that I did go through that. I think that says a lot about my maturity and my ability to not live in the past."

Teammate Bobby Perry also chimed on about Randolph.

"I was really excited [to hear that Morris could play this season]," Perry said. "It's going to help our chemistry, and to get our rotation down, something that we didn't have last season. It was really tough for him to be sitting out, and it had to be tough on his pysche. But he came back and he played tremendous at the end of last season."

Even though many are picking others ahead of Kentucky in the conference, it's tough to actually say "They are going under the radar." It's tough for any Wildcat team to do that, because after all, they are Kentucky.

Posted by Doug Kroll at 04:41 PM on October 25, 2006

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