Wildcats' home-grown Ford produces Southeast Regional notebook

March 27, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jamal Mashburn is rightfully commanding most of the attention, but a 5-foot-9 home-grown guard could be Kentucky's key player in the NCAA tournament.

The story of Travis Ford, the high scorer with 26 points in Thursday's demolition of Wake Forest, is an intriguing one.

Mashburn calls Ford the team's most valuable player and said "sometimes I don't even bother to rebound" when Ford puts up a three-point attempt. "I know it's going in."

It wasn't always so for the junior from Madisonville, Ky.

As a youth, Ford's father had him "lie down on my back to practice my [shooting] form. I had a struggle to get it up to the goal. I don't do it that much any more. I think I can get it up there now."

He originally went to Missouri after being recruited heavily by today's opponent, Florida State, but left after one season.

Then, last year, he suffered a broken kneecap in a preseason game and missed the season. It was a tough run.

"Travis was a real pain in the . . .," said coach Rick Pitino. "But he's come a long way in a short two years. There's not a guard in the country I'd trade him for."

Ford said his frustrations stemmed from not playing because of the transfer rule and the injury.

Now, he is thriving.

"I never get into a shooting contest with him," said Mashburn. "He hit 93 out of 100 [three-pointers] one time. He almost always makes nine out of 10 from every spot."

Playing with pain

Florida State forward Rodney Dobard is playing through the pain of a stress fracture in his left foot.

"In the afternoon I was worried about it," said Dobard. "But when I get on the court, I try to forget it. Mentally, you have to block it out."

Dobard said the foot was sore after Thursday night's victory. He is undergoing therapy and fully expects to play today.

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