"Moving people in and out of different roles created inconsistency and players were not comfortable," Smith said as he thought back on last year. "We put some guys in roles that they were not quite ready for.
"We always want to score and push the ball. I think we will have more confidence throwing the ball inside. That's one thing we were lacking last year. Then we have to be quick to recognize to throw the ball back out to somebody open. It just all takes time to understand, but we can be better offensively."
Expecting much more from Morris
Smith expects much more from junior Randolph Morris this year. He's been solid, but not spectacular, in two years at Kentucky. He's averaged 10.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 55 games and shot 56.6 percent from the field.
Smith has no doubts that Morris' heart is fully at Kentucky after his flirtations with the NBA last year. "I think he learned a valuable lesson and missed a lot (last year)," Smith said. "He needs to improve in a lot of areas to help us win."
The Kentucky coach said Morris was in "phenomenal" shape because of his summer workouts and that could help him avoid the knee problem and nagging injuries that bothered him at the end of last season. But the biggest improvement Morris has to make is avoiding fouls that have limited him to only 21 minutes per game during his career.
"His passing really has to be better, too," Smith said. "He has to be able to pass out of the double team and find the open man."
Smith is considering using Morris more at power forward to give the Cats a bigger, more physical lineup.
"It would benefit us to have his mobility away from the basket," Smith said.
Carter is most improved
Playing Morris at power forward would be easier to do if sophomore Jared Carter is ready to play significant minutes in the middle. Smith says he's easily the most improved player among the returning players because of his better strength, balance and confidence. He played in 17 games last year, but averaged only 5.1 minutes per contest.
"We expect him to improve and provide quality minutes when he's in there," Smith said. "His ability to understand the offense and execute the offense limited his playing time last year.
"He's got to improve that, but there should be a vast improvement from just knowing what to expect. He's got a big responsibility being the only sophomore on the team."
Smith expects the team's vocal leader to be junior Ramel Bradley, considered UK's best one-on-one player. He averaged 7.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game last year playing behind Rondo and Patrick Sparks. He's a career 31 percent shooter from 3-point range and a 77.7 career shooter at the foul line.
"He will give us what the team needs. If he needs to score, he can. If he needs to run the team, he can. If he needs to be a defensive stopper, he'll do it," Smith said. "Everybody wants something. But we need him. He will appreciate that because he will know he's needed. He always has the green light to score. But if he doesn't have a shot, then pass it. It's pretty simple."
"The freshmen have to help"
The Cats also have a freshman class of Derrick Jasper, Jodie Meeks, Michael Porter and Perry Stevenson that Smith likes. The first three are bigger guards than UK has had and Stevenson is a lean athlete with tremendous shot-blocking ability.
"The freshmen have to help," the UK coach said. "They are probably looking around and seeing the opportunity to play. We don't have a lot of older guys. They got acclimated to the intensity of being in college over the summer, and they all did well in summer school."
Kentucky lost 13 games last year, did not win the SEC regular season or tournament titles, and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Smith insists last season won't impact this year.
"I look forward to every season. I would not coach if I didn't look forward to every season," said Smith. "You let go and move on. Last year was last year.
"When you win more, when you win championships, it's a lot more fun."