Summer workouts help Moss improve

November 02, 2004|KENT BROWN

For the University of Kentucky's Ravi Moss, Hoptown is Hooptown.

A walk-on from University Heights in Hopkinsville, Moss played in 24 games for the Wildcats as a sophomore last season and earned head coach Tubby Smith's praise for his hustle and desire, not to mention the two big 3-pointers he hit against UAB in the NCAA tournament.

But, just as it looked like the 6-2 junior guard had worked himself into a spot as a major contributor for the Cats, along came Signing Day and three highly-acclaimed guards - Rajon Rondo, Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford.

Add Western Kentucky transfer Patrick Sparks to the mix and, well, let's just say Moss could do the math. He knew he had a lot of work to do this summer.


Buckners are buddies

So he spent it in Hoptown with his old University Heights buddies, in particular the Buckner brothers, Greg and Andre.

After a stellar career at Clemson, Greg Buckner is starting his sixth season in the NBA, having played for Dallas, Philadelphia and now Denver. Andre Buckner played for the Duke Blue Devils from 2000-03.

"They (the Buckners) helped me a lot this summer," Moss said. "Greg Buckner works unbelievably hard. He shows me how hard you have to train."

Moss and the Buckners spent nearly every day in the gym, using a variety of drills to improve ballhandling, shooting and footwork and using weights to add muscle. Listed at 176 last season, Moss is now a solid 190.

Pickup games with the Buckners and other University Heights standouts, such as former Tennessee forward Isaiah Victor and former Notre Dame forward Harold Swanigan, further helped Moss.

"There are a lot of good players in those games at home," Moss said. "It's like playing in the pickup games here in Lexington."

Wants to be "big contributor"

Those hours and hours in the gym have him ready to compete some more - this time for minutes for the Cats. He averaged just over six minutes a game last season and his goal this year is "to be a big contributor to the team."

Having spent two years with Smith, he knows what it's going to take to get those minutes.

"It depends on how I practice," Moss said.

That means defense, followed by more defense and topped off with a big helping of even more defense. A few rebounds and three-pointers wouldn't hurt his cause either.

He was one of the Cats' best shooters down the stretch last season, hitting eight of his last 11 three-pointers.

"My confidence is pretty high right now," he said.

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