Carrier working harder to play

November 02, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

Say what you will about what Josh Carrier has or hasn't done on the court at Kentucky. But his work habits can't be questioned.

Kentucky's coaches have recognized that Carrier was doing everything he could to make himself better, and now he is doing even more.

He believes that he will get another opportunity to become a consistent contributor for the Wildcats, and he is making sure he's ready when the time comes.

"It's a new year, and that's how I've got to look at it," he said.

Carrier's performances last season weren't particularly noteworthy, and they certainly weren't the sort of thing for which awards are given.

But he won the team's award for best individual workout after his freshman season, so imagine how hard he must have been working this summer if he says he was doing even more.


"I've been pushing myself in the offseason, working harder," he said. "The coaches have been pushing me, and I've been working on my game on my own."

"I've just been in the gym, getting up as many jumpers as I can. I'm working on my footwork and my speed. My goal is to get in and get more playing time."

That's pretty much the same goal Carrier had before his sophomore season. And he got what he wanted in the early going, averaging almost 13 minutes in Kentucky's first four games.

But his production didn't match his playing time, and soon his playing time started to vanish. He did not play at all in six of UK's last 14 games, and only once after Southeastern Conference play began did he see more than 10 minutes on the floor.

All the while, there was every indication that Carrier was still getting the job done in practice. But when it counted, he scored only 39 points - 1.4 per game - on the season, and hit just 10 of 32 3-point shots.

Carrier knows he won't play if he can't shoot, and he said he knows one reason why he couldn't shoot well last year.

"I've thought too much in the past," he said. "I've got to go out and shoot and not worry about if it goes."

Opposing defenses shouldn't be much of a problem, because he won't face defenders much tougher than the ones he sees in practice every day.

"Coach (Tubby) Smith is probably the best defensive coach in the country ... and I'm going against some of the quickest, strongest defensive players in the country right in my own backyard," Carrier said.

Carrier said he has been pleased with the results of his summer workouts.

"I've improved on every aspect of my game," he said. "It's definitely showed in individual workouts. I've been shooting the ball pretty well."

Carrier is confident that he'll get another chance to prove himself, especially since the Wildcats need to replace the points Keith Bogans and Marquis Estill provided last year.

"That's a lot of our scoring right there. We're looking for ways to get some new scorers," he said.

Carrier also said he believes he's starting this season with a clean slate in the eyes of the coaches. The past is in the past, and he said that applies to the entire team as well as himself.

"We had a good season last year, but that was last year," he said. "We're looking forward to the future, and I'm looking forward to the future as well."

But while he is pleased with his preparation, he knows there is only one way to find out if it will pay off.

"It's going to be hard to tell until I get in a game," he said. "I'm ready to get going."

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