Carrier wants to help

October 29, 2004|MARTY WARREN

Even with a talented array of freshman guards joining Kentucky this season, senior Josh Carrier never wavered when asked what role fit him best on this year's team.

"The coaches talked to Chuck (Hayes) and myself after last season ended and stressed that we had to be a leader this season," Carrier said. "They said it was up to us to show the younger guys what it takes to play the game the right way. The guys that I am competing for playing time with - freshmen Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford and Rajon Rondo along with Patrick Sparks - are as good as advertised. I really have to step up my game to get playing time, and I am willing to pay the price to do that."

He admitted his four years at Kentucky have gone by fast, and he is willing to help the talented freshmen class adjust any way possible.


"It's sad, because I feel like I am the old man of the team," Carrier said. "If the freshmen want to come and ask me something, I try to answer it. I try to help them on the court and tell them what they are doing wrong. They come over to the sideline during practice and ask me what to do on certain plays. They want to learn, and I try to encourage them.

"They haven't taken anything I have said the wrong way. This is my last year, and I want to help this team any way possible. I want playing time as much as they do, and I am working hard to get it. If I can do one thing that helps us win a SEC title and national championship, then all of the hard work will be worth it."

Carrier, Kentucky's Mr. Basketball in 2001, averaged eight minutes a game off the bench last season for the Wildcats. Known for his long-range shooting ability while playing at Bowling Green High School, he has struggled in spot play at Kentucky, averaging just over one point per game.

"I did a lot of shooting in the off season trying to regain my shooting touch," Carrier said. "I had a couple games last year that I really felt comfortable, but I couldn't get my shots to fall. I have to improve that if I want to compete for playing time."

At times last year Carrier spelled Cliff Hawkins when he needed a break at the point guard position. However, now that Sparks, a transfer from Western Kentucky, is eligible after sitting out last season, he expects to see more action at a more comfortable two-guard position.

"Patrick will provide a lot of excitement for this team," Carrier added. "He can penetrate the lanes, dish it off or flat out fill it up from outside 3-point range. Hopefully, if I am in the game with him at the same time, knowing he can shoot the ball will open up my game. The defense will have to get out on him and he'll be able to dish it off. I'll just have to be ready to shoot it."

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