Saturday, February 16, 2002

Transfer Stone says Louisville suits him


Size-challenged Cards good fit for former UK center

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — Former Kentucky center Marvin Stone said Friday he has put his tumultuous transfer to Louisville behind him.

        “My Kentucky experience is over with. I'm really looking forward to being a Louisville Cardinal,” Stone said in his first public comments since leaving UK in December.

        The 6-foot-10 Stone has lost 15 pounds and reduced his body fat from 14 percent to 9 percent in his first month as a member of Rick Pitino's squad.

        Pitino criticized Stone's fitness when he first arrived and put him on the same demanding regimen as the rest of his team.

        “They made me go on the treadmill the first day I got here. It was tough,” Stone said. “I look back at the first day. I said, "I don't know how I'm going to get through it.”'

        “The first couple of weeks were really tough. Now, I'm kind of getting used to it.”

        The soft-spoken Stone has avoided the media since his transfer triggered a firestorm.

        Kentucky initially blocked Stone's intention to play for Pitino, who coached the Wildcats from 1989-97, citing an unwritten policy that prevented players from leaving for schools that regularly appeared on its schedule. It was never clear whether athletics director Larry Ivy or coach Tubby Smith informed Stone of the policy, but the school eventually reversed its position. , releasing Stone to transfer anywhere he wanted.

        Stone didn't clarify the confusion on Friday.

        “I just know they didn't give me a release. I don't know whose thought it was, or who decided to do that,” he said. “It's not my place to say.”

        Pitino met with Stone and Stone's mother the morning of Louisville's home game with TCU on Jan. 12. Stone watched Louisville's 93-85 victory from the bench, and Pitino confirmed that Stone was a member of the team after the game.

        “It feels good. It's a new start for me,” Stone said.

        A Huntsville, Ala. native, Stone averaged 5.3 points and four rebounds in about 14 minutes in nine games this season. He will have one full season of eligibility remaining, starting as early as the second semester of the 2002-03 season.

        The Cardinals need a big man. Freshman Brandon Bender quit the team in late January and was the tallest Cardinal at 6-9. His departure left Pitino with only four 6-8 players — Ellis Myles, Joseph N'Sima, Otis George and seldom-used Hajj Turner — to fill the middle. None are true centers.

        “I understand why he didn't play at Kentucky — you have (Jason) Parker, (Marquis) Estill and (Jules) Camara. They're all very talented,” Pitino said. “Here, he has no competition at the center spot. We don't have a center in our program,” Pitino said. “He couldn't have transfered into a better situation for himself.”

        Stone said he has kept in touch with many of his former teammates but has no regrets about leaving.

        “I did some good things at Kentucky and some bad things. Those experiences are helping me now,” he said. “When you go through life, you really learn from your past.”

        GEORGIA:

        Chris Daniels was suspended for the first half of today's game against No.10 Kentucky because of unsportsmanlike conduct in the Bulldogs' brawl-marred loss to Auburn Feb.9.

        Southeastern Conference commissioner Roy Kramer imposed the suspension after reviewing tapes of the game in which Auburn upset Georgia 75-72. He said the action was the result of a flagrant, unsportsmanlike act by Daniels.

        It was the second suspension imposed on a Georgia player from the game; Steve Thomas and Auburn's Kyle Davis each have sat out one game for fighting. Both players were ejected with about two minutes left in the game.

       



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