Time To Gaze At Past, Present, Future
More 'Big Brother,' 'Little Brother1
Louisville vs. Kentucky and things. Denny Crum said before last Saturday's game that he believes the UK-UofL series has been "good for college basketball. I felt before it started (in 1983) that it would help
Cats' Pause Columnist
relieve some of the tensions and bad feelings between fans of the schools and I think it has," he said. "Oh, there are some who still have hard feelings, but this series hasn't hurt anybody."
Eddie Sutton agreed. "It's a healthy rivalry here in the state, and I hope it stays that way. I think it's an important game for the fans, one that should be played in December. Then we go and try to win our conference and they go and try to win theirs."
The key word here, I believe, is fans. College basketball fans in Kentucky wanted a UK-U of L series for the right reasons. It is one more sports happening to get very excited about.
And, from conversations I heard last week, the series is indeed healthy—a good rivalry with virtually no negative factors of any real significance.
When Kentucky and Louisville fans stand back a little and view the series with a little less passion and a bit more perspective, they will see that the annual contest is an excellent two-hour television commercial for the state.
'Big brother/Little brother'
About his "Big brother-Little Brother" remark before the UK-UofL game in 1986. Kentucky coach Eddie Sutton said before last Saturday's game that, "in no way did I mean it (the Little Brother remark) to be derogatory to the University of Louisville. I just meant that Kentucky has been at it longer and has won more games than UofL. But UofL is an outstanding basketball program.
"I didn't mean to put coach Crum down in any way," he added. "If it was taken that way then I would apologize."
Crum's reaction? "The comment didn't help anything, but we all say things that we don't mean. I wasn't upset by it before and I'm not now. It's like my dad told me once 'don't major in minors.' In other words don't worry about the things you can't control."
The game? Sutton predicted it would be a "great game, very close. I don't know what the wizards in Vegas are picking, but I think it's going to be a close game." Now you know the rest of that story
Sutton analyzed very well last week why his team was No. 1 in the country.
"I look at the points we're scoring — 75 to 80 a game — and if our defense is good and sound — we're holding our opponents to say, 60 to 67 points, then we're going to have a great chance to win a game.
Kentucky is averaging 13 turnovers per game. "That's very good for this time of year," Sutton said. "Defense. I've been very pleased with it."
UK has committed 40 turnovers in three games while forcing its opponents into 67. Steals: The Wildcats have 36, their foes 20.
On being No. 1
When the Associated Press college basketball rankings came out last week the Kentucky Wildcats were no longer just No. 1 in the hearts of UK fans. The nation's sports writers thought so too.
What does it mean, being No. 1 in the polls? The pluses outweigh the minuses, it seems to me.
¦ Prestige. Polls may be for fans, but coaches and players are not being honest if they say "being rated No. 1 doesn't mean anything to us." Being recognized as the best, no matter what time of the season, is the goal for every competitive athlete. And certainly no college team in America ought to be able to handle the pressure that goes with it better than Kentucky.
¦ Exposure. Being No. 1 means more attention from television and national media as well as day to day coverage at the regional and local levels. Everytime the letters "UK" appear in print or on a TV screen school officials relish it as much or more than fans do.
¦ Recruiting. "Selling the program" is made immensely easier when a recruiter can walk into the living room of a high school prospect and tell his mom and dad that Kentucky is or has been No. 1 in the polls this season.
¦ NCAA seedings. It is only December, but staying close to
the top through the season, then solidifying a spot in the top four at the end, translates into being one of the top regional seeds, playing closer to home when the NCAA selection committee seeds its 64-team tournament field.
On the downside, coaches are accustomed to saying "being No. 1 this time of year just means everybody shoots at you that much harder." But Eddie Sutton said only last week, "everybody shoots at Kentucky's great tradition anyway." Are there any downside items I missed? Next, does Kentucky deserve to be rated No. 1? Absolutely. For example, in Indiana, UK won a game one veteran Hoosier reporter said, "IU always expects to win. When they play here or in Bloomington, somehow, some way, by Divine Providence, it's supposed to happen. It's a given."
And, the ways UK beat the Hoosiers were impressive. Leather hide defense is what I call the formula. While the Wildcats' offense was barely adequate, 43.9 percent shooting Saturday, their defense was superb. Indiana had 11 more shots, 68 to 57, but made only 42.6.
"Kentucky is an aggressive man-to-man (defensive) team against whom you have to work hard to get good shots," IU coach Bob Knight said, adding, "I thought our guard play cost us the game. We just got badly whipped at the guard positions." How long at No. 1?
With the "Christmas Turkey" UKIT just ahead, there isn't much reason (Alaska?) to believe UK won't keep the top spot at
Hardnose, Ed Davender
least until New Year's Eve when Vanderbilt travels to Rupp Arena.
But the first real threat, it says here, will be Jan. 2 when UK plays Georgia in Atlanta.
UK's Mr. Hardnose is starting to receive the accoaldes he deserves.
Knight: "He's one of the best in the country at both ends of the floor. I told our team that before the game. Chapman we were able to contain. In fact, he was more a negative factor for them. But Davender, in one stretch kind of took over the game."
Sutton: "I think he's an Ail-American, one of the top four or five in college basketball today," Sutton said. "Ask (Dick) Vitale or any sports writer who's better than Ed?"
So, why hasn't UK's senior gotten more national acclaim?
"He's lived in the shadow of (Kenny) Walker and (Winston) Bennett, and then (Rex) Chapman came in like a whirlwind," Sutton said. "But you can't imagine what he does for our team at both ends of the floor.
"He's got to be the most underrated guard in college basketball," the coach added.
Dwane Casey on Derrick Miller
During a brief conversation at the Hoosier Dome before the UK-IU game, UK assistant coach Dwane Casey chided the media for "making a big thing" out of Derrick Miller not playing in the Cincinnati game.
"Here we had just beaten Cincinnati and the big headlines next day were all about how Derrick didn't play," Casey said.
It is fair to say that the consensus opinion Saturday was that coach Denny Crum's team was awful in virtually every phase of the game. However...
¦ If Tony Kimbro comes back next week in the right frame of mind, takes up his role with enthusiasm, makes himself effective from the perimeter and blends in..
[Continued On Page 22]
Following are coach Eddie Sutton's postgame comments after UK's 76-75 victory over Louisville last Saturday at Rupp Arena:
Question: During the week leading up to the game you said it would be a close contest. Did you really expect it to be a one-point game?
Sutton: I thought it would be a tough game because Louisville is a good basketball team. I've had them in my elite group since we started practicing on the the 15th of October. They've got excellent athletes and they are well coached. I knew if we did not play as well as we're capable of playing then it would be extremely close. That's what happened. We played very well in the first half and went into intermission with a sizeable lead. We had the ball to begin the second stanza and yet we went out and did not use good shot selection. The first two possessions: Rex (Chapman) took a shot off the second or third pass; the next time down Winston (Bennett) took a shot. . .that's what I keep preaching—one must be patient, especially when you have a sizeable lead like we did. You can't take anything away from Louisville; they seized that opportunity and made a good run during the beginning of the second half. They had an extremely hot hand; they hit some great shots. Our defense at times was good, but they just hit some outstanding shots. Finally, we did become patient, offensively. . .we did do a good job of running our offense. They were running a triangle-and-two, a gimmick defense. We put Derrick (Miller) in there; we put Eric (Manuel) in there. They (UK guards) got good shots but they just didn't complete it. Then they (U of L) made a run and finally tied the ballgame up. Then we spurted out. I thought we had the ballgame won again, and should have. I don't think it was as much as their press because we really had attacked their press well throughout the game, but we made three silly turnovers. I want to credit their press because they really played hard, but we made some mistakes there. With three minutes to go we have a five-point lead and the basketball. And what we teach them, that shouldn't happen. . .But our team did display a lot of character. We always believe we're going to win: something good is going to happen. It just so happens that Cedric (Jenkins) made a great play this afternoon. But he also played very well, even if he didn't score (but two) he had 11 rebounds. That's very, very important. It was a good college game as far as intensity level. Both teams played hard. The one thing we've got to do if we hope to have a great ballclub is to eliminate some of our mistakes at the offensive end of the court.
Question: Winston still seems to be having problems staying out of foul trouble. What can be done to correct this?
Sutton: Well, he's going to foul because he is so aggressive. He's picking up a couple of fouls each game just on nickle-and-dime fouls—gets himself out of position or he reaches in and grabs or sticks a knee out when a guy starts to drive. Those are careless fouls that you've got to eliminate. He's just going to have to work on that—look at film, listen to coaches, and be aware of it.
Question: When Louisville picked up the technical in the first half for having six players on the court it seemed to change the pace of the game in UK's favor. Do you agree?
Sutton: That was an unfortunate thing on their part. I don't know how much it changed the game but it was a big play. Those things happen. It's never happened to me, but I always fear that it could happen. We try to be very earful and I'm sure they do, also. Sometimes young people in the heat of battle forget to tell who they are going in for, or there is a timeout like there was then and (the player says) "I've been in the game and 1 go back out." All of a sudden you have six players out there. I've seen it happen, but not that often.
[Continued On Page 25]