As we begin to immerse ourselves into the upcoming college basketball season we're reminded of the many offseason changes. One of the most impactful was the departure of Tubby Smith and arrival of Billy Gillispie to coach the Kentucky Wildcats. How will this work out? The Wildcats kick off their season tonight and a passionate member of the Big Blue (Chuck23) Faithful is here to share his thoughts on the Gillispie led UK teams ...
"I expect to win every game."- Billy Gillispie The Cats' Pause 2007-2008 Basketball Yearbook.
No, Billy Gillispie's cheese hasn't slid off his cracker...this is purely his mindset on what he expects out of his teams. Ironically, he has taken a new coaching job with a fan base that expects the exact same thing! With that, a bright future begins today in Lexington, Kentucky. Many questions still surround this proud College Basketball Powerhouse, but the road to recovery is well underway. Within weeks of Tubby Smith jetting off for the frozen lakes of Minnesota (and a much calmer fan base), the Wildcats soap opera ended by hiring Billy Gillispie as head coach. Shortly thereafter, Patrick Patterson signed on and fans everywhere rejoiced. Neither has yet to walk on water, but you couldn't tell it by the fans reactions.
As one of the Big Blue faithful, I find it tough to fight the hype and remind myself that while the cupboard isn't bare, the shelves do need some updating and restocking. This will be a season to remember for all fans. Gillispie brings an up tempo offense and an "in your face" defense that covers all 94 feet of the court, the likes of which has only been seen down the road in Louisville by that other coach who once roamed the sidelines of Rupp Arena.
Kentucky returns starters Joe Crawford, Ramel Bradley and Derrick Jasper, along with sixth man scoring sensation Jodie Meeks. Meeks should become a household name by March for everyone else outside the SEC. Hard nose backup guard Michael Porter and newcomer Alex Legion should flourish in this style of basketball. The front court is where UK will get beaten up for most of the season. With Jared Carter and Perry Stevenson the only two returning post men with any experience, the starting lineup is open for anyone willing to fight for it. Early this preseason, walk on Mark Coury and last years late season addition Ramon Harris have cracked coach Gillispie's starting line up. Patrick Patterson, who many have already hailed as the next great Wildcat in a line of many, is all but a shoe in for the power forward spot. In his 2 preseason games, Patterson has averaged nearly 18 ppg., granted UK wasn't playing Michael Jordan and the Bulls.......OK, they weren't even playing Murray State. Nevertheless, Patterson's talent is obvious, once this young man acclimates himself to the big time college basketball scene, he will be a pure joy to watch.
This should be a team with plenty of ups and downs this season. Teams such as North Carolina, Indiana and Louisville eagerly await this young group, not to mention conference rivals Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas and my sleeper pick Georgia. However, once March rolls around they should be ready to turn some heads in the NCAA Tournament. Their chances of winning the NCAA Tournament? Slim to none, and slim is walking out the door, but would I be completely surprised? Never. This team has talent, and if they gel early and keep the hard working attitude of their coach throughout the entire season, they will go further then many expected, including the crazed fans of Kentucky Basketball.
(If you want to share some thoughts and insights on the upcoming college basketball season send me a note)