Obrzut still trying to learn how to play without fouling

December 24, 2004|HAL MORRIS

LEXINGTON - Lukasz Obrzut is trying to throw around his 7-foot, 270-pound body without fouling.

It just isn't happening.

While equaling his season totals with four points and two rebounds in Kentucky's 92-47 win over William & Mary Wednesday, the sophomore center from Poland also picked up four fouls in just nine minutes of action. He also turned the ball over twice.

"It would be great If he could just learn to play without fouling," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "But he can't."

Obrzut says he just has to keep trying to get better in practice and avoid fouls.

"I practice really hard and I try to help the team, rebound the ball, do what the coaches ask me to do," he said after Wednesday's game. "Maybe I'm trying too hard, playing too physical. And sometimes it just doesn't work out because the refs see me going hard on the players with my hands.


"It's always really tough for me, but I can't do anything about it. A foul's a foul. I've got to learn to play without fouling. I tried tonight, but it didn't work out."

Smith did like some of the things he saw out of Obrzut Wednesday.

Obrzut hit both of his shots from the floor, a left-handed jump hook in the lane in the first half and a putback off a missed jumper by Joe Crawford in the second. He even earned his third assist of the season, passing off to Crawford as he went down the lane for a dunk late in the game. That matched his assist total from all of last year.

"He's better when he doesn't put the ball on the floor," Smith said.

Obrzut came into Wednesday's game having played 44 minutes in seven games. He was 1-for-4 from the floor - a basket against Morehead State - and had scored just four points, a .6 per game average. After Wednesday, he's 3-for-6 shooting. Last year, Obrzut averaged 1.2 points in 31 games. He was 12-for-27 from the field and averaged .8 rebounds a game.

Fifty fouls in 200 minutes

But those fouls will continue to limit his playing time. He had 50 in 200 minutes last season.

"It's just going to take more work to learn to try and not foul," Kentucky senior Chuck Hayes said. "Just play without fouling. Coach always tells us fouling negates hustle. He needs to learn how to use his body. When to foul, when not to foul. Learn to get to the right position on certain plays."

With the emergence of freshman Randolph Morris and sophomore Shagari Alleyne, he's already playing less than he did when he was a freshman.

But if Obrzut's discouraged by his lack of minutes and foul problems, it doesn't show.

"Everything is fine. Everything is how it's supposed to be right now," he said. "I just want to help the program and try my best. The minutes will come."

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