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Kentucky Basketball: The news of Friday

A couple of interesting items for your early PM perusal.

First is this Gator Country article entitled "Tubby:  This was what was right for me".

This is an interesting article if you ignore the rehash of how horrible the UK fans were (according to the author, not to Smith), blah, blah, blah.  When you read it, focus on what Tubby is saying.  Like the true gentleman he is, he never once bites on the author's suggestion he was driven away.  In fact, he debunks the idea:

"I was in a position that I had security and I had the right in my contract to make a decision and to be able to leave when I wanted to leave," he said. "Most guys don't have that in their contract. Most guys leave because they were forced out or didn't win or something of that nature. The choice I made, I made on my own free will because it was what I wanted to do."


"Kentucky is a great place ... a wonderful place," he said. "The fans were wonderful to me and to my family. I've got great memories that I'll always cherish about Kentucky. I'll always be thankful I had the chance to coach there."

Smith suggests, but then denies, that stagnation might have been the reason.  But quite honestly, it could have simply been that he just wanted a change.  

We will never know everything, because quite frankly, Tubby isn't going to tell us everything.  But a close reading of some of his quotes suggest a man who was as frustrated with his failure to win the last two years as the fans were.  

Smith tends to blame the loss of players like Rondo and Azubuike for some of his difficulties, and I personally believe UK would have been better both years had Kalenna stayed on, and Rondo waited until 2007 to enter the draft.  Our point guard play was weak last year, and Kaz would have been able to allow Crawford to play his natural position in '05-'06 rather than moving to the three, where he struggles.

This article breaks no new ground, really, but there are a lot of Smith quotes in one place, and that is rather hard to find, even when he coached here.  Read it and draw your own conclusions.  I never get tired of speculating as to Tubby's motivations -- he is probably the only coach in memory who voluntarily left an elite program for a struggling one without scandal or the threat of imminent termination to motivate him.

Of course, you know that the Wildcats got five players picked pre-season all-SEC by the coaches with five players taking 6 spots, as many as Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama and one more than Georgia.  Interesting.

Finally, Wildcats Thunder has a post about the news that we have five (5) basketball players on the 2007 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll.  Nice to have some brains on the team for a change.