Vaught's Views: Macy says UK players need to listen to Smith

December 09, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - It was almost like Morehead State coach Kyle Macy was disappointed that his team lost by only 31 points to Kentucky.

"We were way outmanned by this team, but we were within six or eight points at halftime," said Macy. "Coach (Tubby) Smith shouldn't have to come in at halftime and chew on them as he probably did to get them motivated to play."

Obviously, Macy let his heart do much of his postgame talking here Wednesday night. He couldn't help it.

Not only is he the Morehead coach, but he's also a former UK All-American. He was a starter on Kentucky's 1978 national championship team and still remains one of the most popular players ever to play for the Wildcats.

That's why he couldn't hide his disappointment over the way the much more talented Wildcats alternated either going through the motions or looking for highlight reel plays during Kentucky's 71-40 victory here Wednesday.


Macy doesn't question Kentucky's talent. He does wonder if the players, especially the younger players, understand that Tubby Smith has won a national championship and knows what he's doing. Apparently Macy saw way too many individual plays from the Wildcats rather than the crisp teamwork his 1978 team was known for during its championship run.

"To be a championship team, they've got to listen to coach Smith. He knows what he's doing," Macy said.

His evaluation of UK

Macy launched into his evaluation of Kentucky's team during his opening remarks before he took questions from the media. He obviously knows the hype freshmen Rajon Rondo, Randolph Morris, Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford have received and the talent they possess. Yet that highly-touted group had just 13 points on 6-for-20 shooting and managed only 12 rebounds against the Eagles.

"The young guys have gotten all kinds of publicity," Macy said. "When they take the floor, they don't need to try to show highlight films for other teams. They need to go out there and play as a Kentucky Wildcat team should play, by executing basic fundamentals. If you get up 40 (points) and you want to do the highlight reels, fine. But take care of business from the start to the end."

Macy wondered aloud if some players were more consumed with individual numbers and producing highlight plays for TV than they were listening to Smith and making Kentucky a better team.

"When I played, every game was about Kentucky winning and pounding the other team. You can't just show up and turn the switch on and off," Macy said.

Macy said the players need to "buy in" to what Smith says and start sending messages to future opponents. He didn't mean the type of message UK sent when it led Morehead only 29-23 at halftime, either. He meant routing an overmatched team like his in such a convincing fashion that future foes would question if they could even stay on the court with the Wildcats.

At least one Kentucky player seemed to agree with the Morehead coach.

"The first half was ugly," Kelenna Azubuike, who led UK with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting, said. "We didn't play as hard as we could have. The second half we decided to pick it up. We've just got to do that the whole game to beat good teams."

Kentucky did look superb during a 20-0 run to start the second half when it did overwhelm the Eagles. The Wildcats also held Morehead to 27 percent shooting (15-for-55) from the field and they got another solid effort from 7-3 reserve center Shagari Alleyne, who had 11 points, eight rebounds, six blocked shots. One of those blocks came early against Morehead freshman Jonathan True, a Lincoln County product.

Cats struggle against zone in first half

But Kentucky, which is supposed to have been a better shooting team this year, was 3-for-18 from 3-point range and struggled to score against Morehead's zone in the first half. The Cats also outrebounded the Eagles only 24-23 in the first half when Macy admitted Smith was "tinkering" with his lineup.

"Some of being a good defensive team is getting the wrong people to shoot or getting people to shoot where they are not taking their best shots," Macy said.

Macy sensed the Wildcats were way too eager to "play for themselves" and not sacrifice for the team. He said it might help if the Cats had a Rick Robey or James Lee like his 1978 team did. Those players would have demanded total team play.

The Morehead coach/Kentucky fan says the young Cats have to ignore their press clippings and radio talk show hype and concentrate on doing what Smith wants.

"Obviously, I am a big fan," Macy said. "Coach Smith knows what he's doing. These players will have 10 times more fun on a championship team than from any individual accomplishment. They can not only be good in the future, but they have the potential to be good now."

Or Macy, and Smith, hope they will if they learn consistent team play is always more important than individual play.

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