At 8:54 Eastern Time on Wednesday night, the University of Kentucky’s horrid season officially turned to unacceptable.
An absolute travesty in any Kentucky basketball fan’s eyes is finally over after an on-and-off sloppy loss to AP preseason No. 9, Notre Dame.
Notre Dame, currently ranked 78th in the CBSSportsline.com RPI, led the once-proud Wildcats for the entire game, starting with a three-pointer from Luke Harangody.
Now the focus turns to Billy Gillispie’s future at UK. More importantly, does his future even exist?
With continuous talks throughout the ESPN2 broadcast about a head coaching shake up in Lexington, the Big Blue Nation will find out if there will be an unveiling of a new coach in the near future. Many rumors point toward conference-rival Florida’s head coach, Billy Donovan.
That’s right. According to a source close to the athletic department, Billy Donovan is signed on to be the next head coach for the program.
What happened to the trust in Billy G?
After one dismal season followed by an unacceptable invitation to the NIT tournament, Gillispie might find himself ousted by the end of April.
This is not official, nor have I seen any news from any major sports site regarding the situation. However, this source is close to the athletic department and if there’s any truth to it, would this be what UK fans are starving for?
First off, Gillispie is still working with an under-talented and completely underachieving group of basketball players, especially in regards to what any fan of Kentucky basketball is looking for.
There are two probable future NBA players, in team-leading scorers Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson, and then comes the drop off.
The majority of his roster consists of upper-class recruits from Tubby Smith, with Patterson being the only Gillispie recruit.
The next highest scorer, Perry Stevenson averaging less than eight points per game, is hardly an offensive threat.
Stevenson, although briefy shining in a few gams, showed a constant ability to mishandle the basketball, travel, and miss high-percentage shots in the low-post area for the entire season.
In fact, Stevenson’s only real upside was his low-post defense at times, averaging 1.9 blocks per game.
In comparison with recent Kentucky guards, Michael Porter hardly matches up, and in most regards shouldn’t be on the same court with the likes of Joe Crawford, Rajon Rondo, Ramel Bradley, or even Patrick Sparks.
Porter consistently showed poor decision making throughout the season, constantly picked up his dribble way past the three-point line and continuously showed his inability to take a confident shot.
Meeks was the answer to far too many big game situations this year. If Meeks wasn’t the answer then Patterson was the only other person to step up on an offense that averaged a league-leading 17.2 turnovers per game. Only two teams had more turnovers, Arkansas Pine-Bluff and Northwestern State.
Kentucky’s offensive game plan or lack thereof, was consistently inconsistent throughout the entire season. If they weren’t running a top-of-the-key screen to Meeks, then some other player was attempting to drive, deciding too late that nothing was there, then either turning the ball over or passing back out.
At any random camera shot, Gillispie could usually be seen with an uncontrollable what-the-hell-was-that look.
Coming from a lifelong Kentucky fan like myself, Gillispie, despite the horrendous season, deserves more than a two-year trial period in Lexington. There just hasn’t been enough time to prove he can do something with the storied program.
Directly after Jodie Meeks 54-point tear against the Tennessee Volunteers, an article (I can’t remember where) was released with the title "Jodie Meeks, Let’s Not Forget, Was Tubby Smith’s Recruit." In Gillispie’s defense, so was most of this team and without a proven point guard like Bradley or Rondo, this team had no chance from the get-go.
Gillispie still offers a tough disciplined nature and the ability to recruit, which is why Kentucky was drawn to him in the first place.
Sophomore Patterson was drawn to UK by Gillispie along with a current crop of freshmen who saw a good amount of minutes this season.
For the 2009-10 season, Gillispie already has two Rivals150 recruits on board, having signed letters of intent to play for the Wildcats.
Currently the Wildcats (22-14) have a head coach for next year, but Thursday brings another day and April brings coaching changes around the nation.
While you’re sulking in the lost season Big Blue Nation, ask yourself if you want Billy G or Billy D next season.
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