A little Q & A with Dick Vitale

November 08, 2004

College basketball analyst Dick Vitale discusses Kentucky's upcoming season in a question-and-answer with sports editor Larry Vaught:

1. Why do you have Kentucky ranked No. 3 in your preseason rankings?

"The bottom line is I probably have Kentucky overrated because they are so young, but they are so talented and I have such confidence in Tubby Smith that they will mature and become major, major players before year ends. Kentucky has all the parts to really create havoc this year."

2. How good will freshmen Rajon Rondo, Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford and Randolph Morris be?

"The Kentucky kids are rated high for a reason. They are talented. I can flat-out tell you that today's young players can make an impact immediately because of all the experience they have. There is a lot of criticism of AAU basketball, and sometimes I agree, but the experience these kids gain playing such intense competition gets them ready for college.


"Everybody I know in Detroit just raves about Crawford and what he can do. There's no doubt Morris' potential is unlimited. Tubby has a bunch of Diaper Dandies."

3. What is the biggest key to success this year?

"The development of young people, getting them in rhythm and letting them see how intense college basketball is. A lot don't realize how they have to play every possession, especially when you wear that Kentucky uniform. You are the circled date on the calendar for every game. People play on a different level against Kentucky."

4. How important is senior Chuck Hayes to the team's success?

"Chuck is so special. He represents all I believe in. He plays so hard and gets the maximum out of his ability. The biggest thing that bothers me in any sport is when I see how many talented players only play for the moment. Chuck leaves everything he has on the floor representing the jersey he wears. He is a special warrior.

"He's not big on fanfare. He doesn't have the big head of a superstar. He came in level-headed, defended, rebounded and played the game with a winner's mentality. He's got to improve his shot to make the next level, but you never just can't with Chuck Hayes."

5. What do you like best about Tubby Smith?

"Tubby is a leader. He can blend and adjust. You have to understand people. I do a lot of motivational speaking. In the corporate world it's all about knowing strengths, weaknesses and liabilities. It's the same in coaching. Tubby knows how to get his club to understand who the strong are, who should shoot at the end, who to count on for rebounds. Tubby does a phenomenal job of getting players to understand their roles."

6. Who will win the national title?

"You can take any of 15 teams and put them No. 1 and they would be in the mix. But my Super Six is North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Michigan State. When the season ends, Kentucky could be right there."

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