Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Tubby wins two coaching awards

Credits success to new philosophy

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEXINGTON - Tubby Smith had to quit giving special treatment before he could procure such a special season.

Kentucky's coach was named Tuesday as Southeastern Conference coach of the year by the Associated Press, and District IV coach of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Smith said he learned this season to distance himself from problematic players to whom he otherwise might have given repeated chances.

"I've been able to set aside some of the issues that would cloud your judgment," he said. "The sensitivity of coaching, and the caring part - you have to be able to step back (and) be able to say: `That's it. I've done all I can do for this particular situation.' That's tough to do."

The transfers of Marvin Stone, Rashaad Carruth and Jason Parker - not to mention Adam Chiles and Cory Sears - indicate Smith removed those distractions. His Wildcats responded by going 26-3, including 16-0 in the SEC.

The USBWA named UK senior guard Keith Bogans player of the year in District IV, a region made up of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Bogans was named to the AP's all-SEC first team but didn't get player of the year honors, which went to Tennessee's Ron Slay.

UK's Marquis Estill made the AP's second team. Teammates Gerald Fitch, Chuck Hayes and Cliff Hawkins earned honorable mention.

"Me and Slay are good friends," Bogans said of Slay's award. "He deserved it. There's still another poll to come out."

That's the coaches' all-SEC awards, to be announced today.

Smith's SEC honor is just his second; the AP named him and Tennessee's Jerry Green co-coaches of the year in 1998.

"This (award) is a testament to how hard the guys have worked," Smith said. "This team has done some outstanding things. And they've done some things off the court as well - the camaraderie, the relationships they've built."

Slay came back from a torn knee ligament suffered last season to lead the SEC in scoring at 21.6 points a game. He also averaged 7.7 rebounds and shot 49 percent. Bogans averaged 15.9 points and led UK in assists (85) and steals (35).

"Keith's year was diluted by our balance," Smith said. "He didn't have to carry a team like Slay did."

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