Sunday, March 21, 1999

Magloire's game is mostly (trash) talk




BY TIM SULLIVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ST. LOUIS — Jamaal Magloire is Kentucky's center of inattention, a trash-talking intimidator whose specialty is distracting opponents from the business at hand. He won't let up and he won't shut up. He is the post man who always zings twice.

        “No one wants to be aggravated,” Magloire said Saturday afternoon. “No one wants to be pushed around. I try to put myself in their shoes and see if I can get into their head. I'll do whatever it takes to win.”

        Statistically, Magloire's contributions were of little consequence in Kentucky's 58-43 victory over Miami in Friday's Midwest Regional semifinal. He came off the bench to score five points and seize six rebounds. But he likes to think his relentless yapping helped sabotage Wally “World” Szczerbiak, and paved UK's path to today's regional final against Michigan State. He likes to think there is an advantage to be gained through annoyance.

        “I told him it was my world,” Magloire said, recount ing his conversations with Szczerbiak. “I told him it's Jamaal's world and he's just a small fry living in it.”

        Szczerbiak's response?

        “There were some cuss words,” Magloire said. “I can't really say.”

        The Toronto Tongue has uttered so many choice words at UK that Wildcats forward Scott Padgett has announced plans to publish a book of “Magloireisms.” Earlier this season, Magloire dismissed Duke's exalted Elton Brand as a “young pup.” Last week in New Orleans, he told Kansas' Eric Chenowith “You will not score again” five minutes into the game. (Chenowith would score again, but had no field goals af ter the first half).

        Friday night, when he wasn't busy tormenting Szczerbiak, Magloire was trampling the Miami mascot en route to the dressing room.

        “Things like that happen in the heat of the moment,” he explained later. “He was in my way. I thought it was Wally.”

        Szczerbiak managed to score 23 points against Kentucky, but he was plainly irritated by Magloire's ceaseless chatter. Until Friday night, Szczerbiak had gone through the tournament with the gleeful look of a sweepstakes winner. Magloire — loud, nimble, 6-foot-10, 260 pounds — turned that grin into a grimace.

        “He was in my ear the whole game,” Szczerbiak said.

        How much Magloire's monologue affected Szczerbiak's concentration is conjecture, but his box score credits included six turnovers and four fouls. This was not the kind of performance that had made him the talk of the tournament and put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

        “With Wally, a lot of the publicity got to his head a little bit,” Magloire said. “You could see it in some of the things he said. I said some things to him that did not make him happy. Next time down (the floor), he's thinking about how to get me back than what play they should be running.”

        This is a ploy basketball players have been using since they first took aim at peach baskets: Get into a guy's brain and you can get him out of his game. On the playground, it is known as “Talking smack.” In college basketball, such taunting is supposed to trigger a technical foul, but it is enforced with much the same frequency as jaywalking statutes.

        “When I go into a game, I'm going to do nothing but rebound and block shots and get into their heads,” Magloire said. “It can be done. I love to play physically. To me, it's like Christmas. When I talk to a guy, what I do is try to question his game, what is he doing out there? What's his role? Is he doing what the team wants him to do or what I want him to do?

        “These are things that make a small difference, but I think it does make a difference. I know it would get me aggravated if someone approached me in that way.”

        Normally, Jamal Magloire doesn't do enough offensively to rate retaliation. He has averaged 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds while playing less than 20 minutes per game. He is a rough-and-tumble role player on a team where everyone seems to know his place. Asked to compare himself to someone from Michigan State, Magloire chose the Spartan mascot, on account of his armor.

        The Spartan is advised not to get in his way.

        “I hope he does,” Magloire said, mischievously. “The color I'm going to dislike the most tomorrow is going to be green. It changes daily.”

        Enquirer columnist Tim Sullivan welcomes your E-mail at tsullivan@enquirer.com

       



Kentucky Stories
Michigan State challenges Kentucky birthright
- Magloire's game is mostly (trash) talk
KENTUCKY NOTEBOOK
MARCH MADNESS PAGE