Vaught's Views: Barbour tries to move past his mistake

October 29, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - When Antwain Barbour was a no-show at Kentucky's media day, one couldn't help wonder if he was avoiding questions about off-season problems.

Coach Tubby Smith finally announced at media day last week that Barbour would be suspended for UK's two exhibition games and its regular-season opener because of a traffic stop in which a small amount of marijuana was found in his car - even though he was not charged with possession.

"Everybody is going to make mistakes, and I made mine," said Barbour, who had a prior commitment that forced him to miss UK's media day. "You just have to live with it and go on with your life."

He said while he dreaded having to let coach Tubby Smith know about his problem, he knew that's what he had to do long before the traffic stop became public.


"I knew it would eventually be over. I just made a mistake," Barbour said. "Right now I am not even worried about that. People have to think what they think, and there's nothing I can do about it. I just have to go out and play hard."

That's what he tried to do in the Blue-White game Saturday. He was 6-for-10 from the field and had 13 points. He also had seven rebounds, four assists and one steal in 31 solid minutes of play that showcased his athleticism and versatility.

"I think I played pretty well just getting up and down the floor, playing good defense and doing other things that I can do," Barbour said.

Barbour could be a huge key for this year's team. He could help compensate for the scoring lost by the departure of Keith Bogans and Marquis Estill. He could help the Wildcats duplicate their suffocating defense from last year because of the pressure he can apply with his quickness.

Walking a fine line

But Barbour is walking a fine line. He can't afford another mistake. He cannot have a lackadaisical game. He has to show that he appreciates the second chance Smith has given him and that he's going to embrace the opportunity, much like Gerald Fitch did.

Rememeber two years ago, when it seemed like Fitch was in constant trouble? He got in a fight with teammate Cory Sears. He broke curfew with teammate Erik Daniels and was cited for having a fake ID while in line to get into a Lexington bar. He was suspended for a Southeastern Conference Tournament game for violating a team rule that Smith never disclosed publicly.

Fitch was not booted off the team and responded with a banner season last year when the Cats went 32-4. Now he's regarded as one of the SEC's marquee players going into this season.

"Antwain and I talk here and there, but there's really nothing to talk about," Fitch said. "You just have to forget about it. That's the main advice I gave him. Look beyond all this. It will just make him hungrier.

"When you go through this and hit rock bottom, when you come back up you want to try your hardest to be the best you can be. When I was going through the trouble, I was trying to prove to everybody not to give up on me and that I was going to do big things for Kentucky. That's what I proved and I think he'll be the same way."

Barbour came to UK with lofty expectations after leading teams to a high school state title and junior college national championship. He envisioned adding a national championsip at Kentucky, and still thinks it can happen.

"That's what I came here for. I've always had big expectations on me on every team I've played for. That's nothing new because I have big expectations for my teams, too," Barbour said. "I know I got a second chance here. Sometimes somebody has to say something to you or something has to happen to get you going."

Something definitely happened that Barbour wishes he could have changed, but couldn't. Now it's up to him to get himself going and reward Smith's confidence in him the same way Fitch did last year.

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