Cats look worse for the wear, but trainer says not to worry

March 21, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A glance around the Kentucky dressing room Saturday showed players with ice packs taped to their bodies all around the room.

Point guard Cliff Hawkins needed treatment on his back after practice. Guard Gerald Fitch needed treatment on his knee after Friday's game.

Antwain Barbour (back), Kelenna Azubuike (knee), Ravi Moss (ankle) and Bernard Cote (ankle) all had ice packs on following practice.

"It's really not as bad as it looks," said trainer Dave Kindy. "It's more preventive than anything. Usually we will have six to eight guys with ice bags after practice at this time of year. It's not like we are more beat up than usual. They all actually give me a hard time about being so careful."

Hawkins apparently injured his back in Friday's 96-76 win over Florida A&M. However, he was not anxious to talk about the injury going into today's NCAA Tournament second-round game against Alabama-Birmingham.


"I don't know," Hawkins answered when asked how he hurt his back. "I would rather not talk about it. But it won't impact my play in the game."

"Cliff's back is just like the rest of them. It's mainly so it won't get sore," Kindy said.

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said it seemed to him that Hawkins was "very tight" at Saturday's practice.

"He's getting treatment. I hope he'll be loose and ready (Sunday). I think he got hit, clipped, Friday," Smith said.

Fitch missed three games earlier after he hurt his shooting hand. He went down in a midcourt collision late in Friday's win, but said he was thankful it was not his hand that he hurt again.

"I hit my kneecap. I just banged into one of their guys," Fitch said. "I would rather hit my kneecap than my fingers. I'll be fine Sunday."

"He woke up fine today. That's why we iced him the way we did last night," Kindy said Saturday.

Kindy said other than Fitch's injury, the Cats have stayed exceptionally healthy this season.

"This is the situation I like. I can sit and just watch TV," Kindy said. "Seriously, our guys might be a little tired, but they are as well off as they can be at this time of year."

Moss agreed.

"We are banged up, but so is everybody at this time of year. You can't practice and play at this level without getting banged around a lot and it shows," Moss said.

Smith said he was far more concerned about UAB's style of play than his team's health.

"They get you playing at a pace and scoring at a pace that can create problems," Smith said. "You've got to be able to use a lot of players to play the way they do, and they do that. Thankfully we are healthy and we can go to our bench as needed. This is a game where you want to be at full strength and fortunately we are."

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