CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With all the pleasantries being exchanged by coaches and players this time of year, Dale Brown has blown into town with the freshness of a spring storm.
No, not that Dale Brown. The Louisiana State coach is watching the NCAA tournament from afar after losing to California, 66-64, in the first round.
This Dale Brown is a 6-foot-2 senior guard for Kentucky, and he is not prepared to call it a season just yet. He has at least one more start as the top-seeded Wildcats play third-seeded Florida State in the Southeast Regional final at the Charlotte Coliseum today.
Though Brown is Kentucky's fourth-leading scorer, he makes more points with defense.
While coaches Rick Pitino of Kentucky and Pat Kennedy of Florida State were comfortable with the usual pregame patter Friday, Brown let the truth be told.
--On Florida State's offense: "They don't run a lot of patterns, (but) they think they can play with anybody. I think every one of them is going to try to come out and be the hero. That's the type of team they have."
--On the Seminole defense: "They don't play a lot of defense."
--On Kentucky (29-3): "If we go out and play the way we've been playing, we can beat anybody. (The Seminoles) are going to have to be ready to play."
Pitino, who called Florida State (25-9) a dangerous team with talented athletes, was asked about Brown's honesty.
"I don't know why Dale is saying that," he said.
Kentucky's romp through the NCAA tournament might have something to do with it. The Wildcats defeated Rider, 96-52; Utah, 83-62, and Wake Forest, 103-69.
Brown, from Pascagoula, Miss., is simply having fun, a word Pitino has bantered about lately. Brown realizes this might be the end of his basketball career. Unlike his more famous teammate, Jamal Mashburn, Brown's chances of playing professionally are limited.
Brown transferred to Kentucky from Mississippi's Gulf Coast Junior College, where he averaged 20 points a game and considered defense for others.
"I had an old coach (Bob Weathers), about 65 years old, and he just let me do anything I wanted to do," Brown said. "I didn't practice if I didn't want to. I didn't think about defense. I just let my man go by me."
When he arrived in Lexington, Brown soon discovered that if he was going to play for Pitino, he would have to play defense. In two seasons, Brown has become one of the country's toughest defensive guards.
Brown will have a handful--and a mouthful--against Florida State's trio of Sam Cassell (18.4 points a game), Bob Sura (19.9) and Charlie Ward (7.9). Brown is anticipating a good time.
"(Cassell and I are) going to pass a few words," Brown said. "It's fun. I don't like guarding (people) who don't like to talk."
Brown, 24, heard from Wake Forest's frustrated Randolph Childress in Thursday night's rout.
"He said the (Southeastern Conference) was weak, and the (Atlantic Coast Conference) was 'all that.' That's the way he put it. I don't know what he meant.
"But I said, 'Well, we're going to send you back home with half of the other ACC teams.' I told him to get his ticket out of here."
Kentucky's opponents have become as accustomed to Brown's mouth as to his defense. Brown recalled the time Alan Houston of Tennessee warned game officials before tipoff to watch Brown's hands.
"I said, 'Hey, ref, I'm trying to get him ready for the next level,' " Brown said. "They say, 'Oh, you want to ref now, Dale?' "
Southeast Regional Notes
Florida State finished second in the difficult ACC with victories over North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. . . . Wake Forest faced Kentucky's three-point barrage in the first half Thursday night. In the first 10 minutes, Kentucky had made all eight of its three-pointers. Jamal Mashburn had five. "You pass up a three, Coach (Rick) Pitino will take you out," Dale Brown said. "He'll get upset if you step on the line and take a three."
Pitino, asked how the Wildcats would handle a close game: "It seems like everybody is trying to find a negative instead of just saying we are playing well. They try to find a cloud in a silver lining." . . . Mashburn, who is turning pro after the season, leads Kentucky with an average of 21.1 points a game.
All of Florida State's starters average in double figures except Charlie Ward. . . . Rodney Dobard, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, almost did not play in the Seminoles' 81-78 overtime victory over Western Kentucky on Thursday night because of an injured toe. Dobard said he was sore at the end of the game. Dobard was more concerned with Ward, the Seminole point guard who also is Florida State's starting quarterback. "Physically, I think Charlie's drained," Dobard said. "He says he's not, but he is. If I know Charlie, he'll pull through."