By LARRY VAUGHT
One of my favorite Southeastern Conference coaches to talk to is South Carolina’s Frank Martin. Ask him a question, you get a very straight forward answer.
So with the Southeastern Conference starting Wednesday in Nashville, I asked him Monday on the SEC coaches teleconference what he thought was the most important ingredient for a team to win the tourney.
“Emotional stability is the most important part,” Martin said. “Understanding that the next time your lose could possibly be the last time your team plays. You cannot get wrapped up in that.
“If the calls do not go your way, handle that. If the other team makes shots, do not get discouraged.
Emotional stability is the one thing the team that survives needs.”
Should that be a warning for UK? With Kahlil Whitney leaving the team in January and now Ashton Hagans needing a one game break or John Calipari deciding to give him one, that’s not exactly the best stability going into postseason play.
But Martin also said in postseason play defense is even more important — and that could be good news for UK. The Cats held Florida to four field goals the final 12 minutes Saturday in their 18-point comeback and only three teams all season shot over 50 percent from the field against the Cats.
“You utilize all season to create a system of toughness,” Martin said. “Without it you are not going to survive on a day you don’t score. You build (the defense) so you trust it in the postseason.
“You are not going to become a good defensive team this week if you have not been good the last five months. If you did it then you have got to trust it so you can win in postseason basketball.”