Monday, November 20, 2017
Sports

Ex-Boca Ciega star Kenneth Smith faces FSU

RECOMMENDED READING


Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Smith has seemingly emerged overnight to become a bonafide point guard on one of college basketball's most surprising teams.

Smith, a Boca Ciega High graduate, helped the Bulldogs win 18 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Division I this season. They were ranked in the top 25 for a time and earned the program's first No. 1 seed in the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

After being upset last week in the first round, Louisiana Tech missed out on an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Bulldogs (26-6) play tonight at Florida State in the first round of the NIT Tournament.

It is the first time Smith, a sophomore, will play a college game in Florida. Better still, he will get to face the Seminoles' Okaro White, a Clearwater graduate who played against Smith in high school.

"It's been a great year, a great run," Smith said Saturday by phone. "We're just trying to keep the momentum going we had in the regular season."

At Boca Ciega, Smith was one of the area's top guards, 17 points, nine assists and four rebounds per game as a senior. But during recruiting, Smith was underestimated and overlooked, disregarded by major college coaches and ignored in website rankings of top prospects.

"I would have liked to have played in the state but didn't get a lot of interest," Smith said. "USF did show some but never really offered a scholarship. Louisiana Tech turned out to be a great fit for me."

Louisiana Tech was not only the one school to gave him a scholarship, but gave him a chance to play right away. The Bulldogs also fit his style, with an up-tempo offense that allows Smith to shine by distributing the ball with passes through slivers in the defense to his cutting teammates.

Last season, Smith set the school record for assists in a game with 15. He also set school records for assists (142) and steals (42) by a freshman.

In the offseason, the 6-foot-3 Smith worked to have a sharper view of the court — enhancements that came gradually, subtly, through study, practice and hours spent with coaches.

It shows in his diverse skill set. This season, Smith averaged 6.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists. The ability to score has been big. Three times this season, Smith has led his team in points, including the opening game of the WAC tournament in which he scored 16.

But that wasn't enough to prevent Texas-San Antonio from winning 73-67 on Thursday, the Bulldogs' third straight loss after a 26-3 start.

"We didn't like the way our season ended," Smith said. "We could possibly have gotten into the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid, but we were really focused on going out and winning the (WAC) tournament."

Louisiana Tech still has extended its season. But the Bulldogs are heading into postseason play overlooked and underestimated.

It is a position Smith knows — and thrives under.



Comments
War on I-4 predictions

War on I-4 predictions

Who will win the USF-UCF showdown on Friday? The Times' college football staff offers up thoughts on the rivalry.Joey Knight, @TBTimes_BullsUCF, 41-28. While I can envision the Bulls enthralling their fan base by unleashing the sleek components ...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh and why this man is smiling

Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh and why this man is smiling

The topic for the Times' set-up package  for Bucs-Dolphins in Sunday's editions was Gerald McCoy vs. Ndamukong Suh.Admittedly, it's not James Winston vs. Marcus Mariota, but the two defensive linemen were taken back to back in the 2010 NFL Draft...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Buccaneers-Dolphins Turning Point, Week 11: Cool, calm Fitzmagic

Buccaneers-Dolphins Turning Point, Week 11: Cool, calm Fitzmagic

On Sunday, the Buccaneers and Dolphins played one of those football games that gets only an obligatory mention at the end of highlight shows. In that spirit, this week’s Turning Point will focus mostly on the final three minutes of Tampa Bay’s 30-20 ...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Florida Gators met with Chip Kelly on Sunday

Florida Gators met with Chip Kelly on Sunday

The Chip Kelly to Florida talk appears to be heating up.The Gators sent a group to New Hampshire on Sunday to talk with the former Oregon coach about its head coaching vacancy. The Buddy Martin Show first reported the meeting, which the Tampa Bay Tim...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
RHP Brent Honeywell among 6 set to be added to Rays 40-man roster

RHP Brent Honeywell among 6 set to be added to Rays 40-man roster

Top pitching prospect RHP Brent Honeywell and at least five others -re set to be added to the Rays 40-man roster by tonight's 8 p.m. deadline, keeping them from being eligible for the Rule 5 draft.Honeywell, 22, had a solid season mostly at Triple-A ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Trump calls out Marshawn Lynch, who sat for the U.S. national anthem but stood for Mexico’s

Trump calls out Marshawn Lynch, who sat for the U.S. national anthem but stood for Mexico’s

President Donald Trump on Monday added Marshawn Lynch to the list of sports figures he has criticized on Twitter.Lynch has been regularly sitting during the national anthem this season and did so again when his Oakland Raiders played the New England ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
3-2-1, BAM! Watch the Georgia Dome being imploded in downtown Atlanta

3-2-1, BAM! Watch the Georgia Dome being imploded in downtown Atlanta

ATLANTA — One of the nation’s largest domed stadiums has been destroyed in a scheduled implosion in downtown Atlanta. Nearly 5,000 pounds of explosives were on hand to blast the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to smithereens Monday at 7:30 a.m. People gather...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: As Jameis Winston faces another accusation, Bucs win with Ryan Fitzpatrick

Rick and Tom podcast: As Jameis Winston faces another accusation, Bucs win with Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Bucs win again behind backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a defense that creates five turnovers against the Dolphins. In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the game, including the calm that Fitzpatrick has brought and ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

MIAMI GARDENS — That was one ugly football game.The Bucs had a bad game. The Dolphins had a really bad game. And who had the worst game of all? The officials.In fact, the best part of Sunday’s game was before the game even started, thanks to a stirri...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

MIAMI GARDENS — A dark cloud is hanging over this football team.It’s a heaviness. A dread. A dread for what might have happened in the past and what might happen in the future.And that makes it hard for fans to truly enjoy what happened Sunday.The Bu...
Updated: 8 hours ago