Kentucky Coach Joe Hall has so much flesh and experience embodied in his two senior forwards and center, he could divide them into five players.

Center Mike Phillips stands 6-foot-10, weighs 235 and should shave hourly. Forward Rick Robey also is 6-10 and averages 8.4 rebounds and 14.8 points a game. They and 6-4 forward Jack Givens, the team's leading scorer (17.7), participated in an NCCA tournament final as freshmen. Consider them grown up.

But when the top-ranked Wildcats (25-2) thunder onto the ocourt today to play Florida State (23-5), their ringleader will be a slender underclassman, Kyle Macy, playing his first NCCA tournament game in his first year with Kentucky.

"Our seniors have been through everything," said Hall, "but strangely enough, our leadership comes from a shophomore guard.

"Kyle Macy gives us a touch of finesse, and sometimes a touch of brains. He comes through in the clutch. He's a coach on the floor."

Macy transferred to Kentucky after a year at Purdue, where he found the offense disorganized. While red-shirting last year, he was forced to beef up his 170-pound frame in order to scrimmage against Kentucky's elbow-throwers.

This is not a footaball team. Nevertheless, tackling dummies are used in practice, and the incredible thing about Macy is not only that he lived to tell about it, but also to apply the delicate touches to a team that might have been just a Macy away from a national title.

"You can make up for it if you're small," said Macy, a 6-3 native of Peru, Ind., a town known as the circus capital of the world. "I try to use my head and anticipate what's going to happen. Then you can brace yourself.

"This was more physical ball than I had played. We use blocking dummies a lot to practice power layups. You drive and two guys with dummies smaclk you. It teaches you to keep control and make the shot.

"We practice taking a charge at the baseline. Then we roll the ball down the lane and dive for it. In games, we don't run over anybody or anything like that. Everything we do, we try to do clean."

Kentucky fans, some of them milling around the Hyatt hotel lobby where Macy sat yesterday and blushed at their well-wishing, are already putting him in the same revered category as Kentucky's great guards Ralph Beard and Louie Dampier. Hell notes, "it's been a long time since we've had a finesse guard."

Macy pumps consistency into the team with his solid base of fundamentals. His father, Robert, coached him in high school and offered pointers before then.

"They tell me," said Macy, "that when I was a baby they held me up by the seat of my pants and let me drop the ball through a hoop."

Macy says he doesn't remember it and he was not forced into the game.

"My father just presented it to me," said Macy. "I think growing up around basketball helped because I was able to work so much on my fundamentals."

Macy finished second in the Southeastern Conference in assists with 156 while averaging 13 points a game, mostly on outside jumpers.

"My role is to try and control the offense," said Macy. "With the size we have inside, we do like to look inside. If not, I'll shoot. I didn't score at all in the Las Vegas game. Then in the next game (against Vanderbilt) I had 22 points."

macy said the spirit of Kentucky basketball "is hard to explain. It's something you have to live through to believe it."

Two months ago, the entire team moved into its own house. There is a library looking down from a loft onto a lounge with a fireplace. There are pool table and pinball machines, private carpeted bedrooms with individual bath facilities, beds that measure five-by-eight feet and seven-foot television screen. They don't think small at Kentucky. Not even Macy