Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AROUND THE SEC; Volunteers Missing Slay's Leadership, Not His Chatter

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AROUND THE SEC; Volunteers Missing Slay's Leadership, Not His Chatter

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, The Times-Union

It's pretty quiet these days around the Tennessee basketball program.

For the first time in four years, the Vols are without Ron Slay and his incessant chatter, trash talk and controversial comments. Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson isn't too concerned with filling that void, but he is trying to find someone to make up for the other thing that Slay had plenty of -- leadership.

Peterson's choice is the much quieter Brandon Crump, a junior who would much rather settle into the background.

Crump has had to constantly remind himself that he needs to be vocal in practice, in the locker room, and on the court.

"I have my bad days, where I don't feel like being bothered," Crump told the Tennessean. "But since coach appointed me captain, I'm going to have to do a job every day.

"I was a captain in high school, but this is college basketball and the last three years I've always looked up to somebody. Having people look up to me now is a lot different."

Peterson knew Crump, who is averaging 16.4 points per game, wouldn't be the same kind of vocal leader Slay was, but he knew he could count on Crump's work ethic and desire to win to overcome his reluctance to speak up.

"Brandon's not a vocal person, but he's set the tone by his leadership and how hard he's working," Peterson said. "He's stepped it up there, and you can tell by his play he's matured a lot."

TUBBY WALKS AWAY

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith apparently wasn't getting his message across effectively during Kentucky's Dec. 31 game against Austin Peay, and when the Wildcats only led by four points with less than four minutes to play, Smith tried a different tactic during a TV timeout.

He threw down his clipboard and walked away from the team huddle.

"I was frustrated," Smith told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "We kind of let them back in the game. Missing easy shots. It looked like we lost our concentration."

Smith's walk-away was more effective than any tirade, Gerald Fitch said. …

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