Friday, March 27, 2009

Billy and the 'Cats

Billy Gillispie won 18 games his first year and 22 in his second. At Kentucky. When he won 21 and 22 in his first two years at A&M, students and fans wanted to build a statue of him outside Reed Arena. How different things are in the big time, eh?

Billy is not a happy man on the basketball court. Whether it's practice, a game or a press conference, Billy is usually upset. I never got to sit in on a press conference with him, but from what I've heard, he was not pleased even after wins. He also liked to party a little (since he's a bachelor, that can be excused). After all, when you're around a game for so many years, part of you stays a little kid. Focus on all his negatives and you can see why he'd be fired. However, overlooking these points ignores the mountain of good his system can bring.

Just look at some of the places his assistants have landed. Buzz Williams took Marquette to the Dance this season. Doc Sadler has Nebraska pointed in the right direction. All this and Billy has only been a head coach for six years. Playing basketball for Billy is trouble, that's for sure. You have to give over any unselfishness you might have. You have to totally and completely commit to being a cog in a bigger machine. Do you really think DeAndre Jordan would have sulked as much last season and gotten away with it? Under Billy, he'd have transferred after the first fall practice. After all, Acie Law (a.k.a the most celebrated Aggie player in history) almost quit after going through a week of Billy's off-season boot camp.

Billy gets results. Because of that, he can recruit. He also knows which players he wants to recruit and gets them. Did anyone believe Dominique Kirk would be a four-year starter when he came out of high school? He found a guy that worked in his system, much like Coach K does at Duke now. The transition Billy didn't have time to make was one of finding the top players in the country that are also good fits for his system. He'll figure that part out. It's now a matter of where.

Am I surprised that Billy got fired? No.

Am I convinced he'll have success somewhere else? Absolutely. That's why I'm terrified of him ending up somehwere in the Big 12. I don't want to face his teams three times a year.

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