It's tough not being too tough.
That was one of the messages coming from basketball media day Thursday at Morehead State, which led NCAA men's basketball in fouls last season.
Now, there is a national mandate to cut down on physical play, so Coach Sean Woods has been trying to teach his Eagles what they can and can't do under the new rules.
"It's hard, and we've been working on it all day, every day," said Woods, whose team will face St. Catharine in an exhibition Saturday. "I told the guys yesterday — I said, 'Look, I would have a hard time making this adjustment.' Because I was one of those guys who liked heating up the ball, guarding it 90 feet. One of the things I liked to do, I like to be physical. I like to put my forearm on you a little bit. But now you can't."
Woods said his team has played two scrimmages using NCAA officials.
"We've done a tremendous job thus far of staying out of foul trouble, guarding with our hands out instead of 'in you' and just moving our feet," the Kentucky "Unforgettable" said. "Everybody's asking me that question (about rules) because I did lead the country in fouls, so I'm the poster child of this new rule. It's humbled me a lot, but I'm not going to change as far as how aggressive we play, how bad we want to speed people up. But we've got to do it in a more moderate type of deal. And I will play some zone this year."
MSU is picked to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference East this season.
"We do have all the right parts," said Chad Posthumus, who averaged 7.5 points and 6.8 rebounds last season. "I know last year we were missing a couple of them; we didn't quite jell as we would have expected to.
"But this year, expectations where they're set right now: winning the OVC championship and then getting into the NCAA Tournament. As long as we can come together, play off of each other, play well together, there's no reason we shouldn't make it there. But ... you can't just walk in the gym and expect to win every day just because you have the right guys. You've got to keep putting in the effort day in and day out."
Making a splash
Senior forward Drew Kelly cited point guard Kareem Storey as a newcomer who has made an early impact.
"I still get wowed by him every day in practice," Kelly said of the 5-foot-10 transfer from the College of Southern Idaho.
"He is quick as can be," Posthumus added.
Eagles women's coach Tom Hodges was attired in a sportcoat highlighting Morehead's school colors — blue and gold with a dash of white. The colorful Loudmouth Golf jackets have been part of his game-day wardrobe for the past three seasons. This season isn't a slam dunk, though.
"We're kind of in the middle of a contractual waltz, as you would," Hodges said of Loudmouth. "This is the Morehead-specific pattern. This is Morehead Splash, so we're excited about that. But we're kind of dancing around to make sure we're both on the same page. If not, I've got to dust off the grey suits and the black suits and kind of be a little more mainstream. Potentially."
Morehead's women are picked to finish fourth.
"I think that's an understatement," said Terrice Robinson, who averaged 17.5 points last season. "I think a lot of teams and coaches are going on our past success, which hasn't been a lot. ... We've gotten better. We got better players. Everybody has gotten better, and we're going to be a contender this year."
IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES
Exhibition: Saturday vs. St. Catharine, 7 p.m.
Season opener: Nov. 9 vs. Mid-Continent