Sunday, March 14, 1999

UK NOTEBOOK


Smith shaken by death

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEW ORLEANS — Tubby Smith was lauded from all corners Saturday. Coaches, friends, players, all admiring how sensitive the Kentucky coach had been in helping his team grieve the death of UK recruit John Stewart.

        Now. Who's to help Tubby?

        Smith said Saturday he took Stewart's death harder than any prior experience in coaching. Learning the news just before UK's game Friday against New Mexico State, he chose to keep it to himself during the game before breaking down in telling the team afterward.

        “I see all of them (his players) as a son,” he said Saturday. “We're a family. When one of them is hurt, or one is ill, or one dies, it brings it all home.”

        Smith has three basketball-playing sons, so the fear of such a tragedy hit him hardest as a parent.

        “It hit home pretty hard because of that,” he said.

        Saul Smith, the UK sophomore guard who's Tubby's second son, admired his father's calm and caring this weekend.

        “I can't imagine how tough this must be for him,” Saul said. “It takes a strong person to deal with this like he has.”

        Where did Tubby turn for help Friday?

        “You fall back on the good book, the Bible,” the coach said. “I don't think there's anything in any coaching manual that can help. You call on your friends. Having Father (Ed) Bradley here Friday night for prayer really helped.”

Evans wants it all
        He's the least-celebrated of UK's three seniors. While Wayne Turner will set an NCAA record today for most career games played, and Scott Padgett is the quotable, extroverted leader, Heshimu Evans watches his UK career close with quiet dignity.

        Since he spent his first two seasons at Manhattan College, this is only Evans' second year playing for UK. Nonetheless, he feels the increasing urgency of his dwindling college days.

        “We know it's our last go-round,” he said. “I don't want the season to end until it has to end, and that's the last game — the championship game.”

        Evans led UK Friday in points (15) and rebounds (six).


       



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