(I don't think there's any danger of Gillispie being fired, I just wanted to make that title to attract hits via Google. Welcome!).
Photo by David Stephenson
Two years ago I wrote a post about my optimism over the hire of Gillispie and some hope in the face of the challenges he inherited-- namely second-rate players. That post is now getting a lot of hits and some angry comments.
He has succeeded in some areas--working his players harder than his predecessor and recruiting well. He has perhaps failed in other areas-- he found it impossible to develop Jared Carter, AJ Stewart, and some others. He offended people with his angry comments to Jeannine Edwards. And he finished 8-8 in a weak SEC this year.
But he deserves one more season. Why?
1. Half the players he inherited were not recruited by major schools and shouldn't be playing in a Big 6 conference. Jared Carter, Morakino Williams, AJ Stewart, and Michael Porter. So he's no Rick Pitino, who could turn Fat Albert into a first round draft pick. As Coach G rounds out his roster they'll be better.
And remember-- Joe Crawford credited Billy Gillispie with "everything," last season after Crawford got signed to play NBA ball. Not the other coach who recruited him and coached him for 3 tumultuous years. So, BCG can mold willing talent.
2. He has no senior leadership this season. That's what seperates this year from last and why next year will be so much better.
3. He got Patrick Patterson and Darius Miller to come to UK. Remember how that energized the fan base? That alone earns him some slack, especially seeing as how they're still young and developing.
4. "It's the economy, stupid." If we weren't going through a massive recession people wouldn't expect as much joy from UK basketball. As it is, people are going through hard times and take it out on the basketball team. Such is Kentucky, parts of which are a third world country even in the best of times. Don't take out your economic frustration on Billy Clyde.
5. What do the data say? Scroll through the past 5 seasons' scouting reports at Kenpom.com. You'll see our TO% this season is horrendous, but in other areas we are better than Tubby-coached teams. Believe it or not, we still have the #24 defense in the country in terms of efficiency and one of the best inside games of any Kentucky team in recent history.
6. Wait until we have a point guard. Assuming DeAndre Liggins doesn't transfer (which would be a major blow to my argument) we have a host of good guards coming in soon. That's what this team has lacked, a floor leader. Michael Porter should never have worn a Kentucky uniform, plain and simple.
Just felt like I needed to write this one. I know his flaws and the criticisms of John Clay and others. But if you think someone better is out there just waiting for the job, you're deceiving yourself. It'd be a bad mistake to call for Coach G's head now.