Last Februarythen Kentucky coach Tubby Smith had copies of a newspaper article about starTexas A&M guard Acie Law distributed to his players. Law¬†explainedthat he hadn't initially taken to his hyperintense coach, Billy Gillispie, butthat over time, he had grown to appreciate how much Gillispie had helped himimprove. Two months later Gillispie was hired to replace Smith, and 6' 2"senior guard Ramel Bradley immediately recalled that article. Unlike Law,however, Bradley would quickly embrace his new coach's passion. "I justlove how intense he is," he says.
This is an article from the Nov. 19, 2007 issue
The admiration ismutual. "Ramel has been fantastic in every sense of the word--conditioning,talking, leading," Gillispie says. That bodes well for the Wildcats, whohave gone nine years without a trip to the Final Four, which ties the longestdrought in the program's 104-year history. Last year Bradley led Kentucky inassists and steals, and was third in scoring, but he was at times reluctant toassert himself. Now Bradley, who along with 6' 5" guard Joe Crawford is oneof only two seniors on this team, spearheads a group of perimeter players whoare so talented that Gillispie is considering occasionally deploying afour-guard offense.
As rich asKentucky is in backcourt firepower, it is equally poor in frontcourt depth. TheWildcats' success will largely depend on how quickly freshman PatrickPatterson, a 6' 9" McDonald's All-American from Huntington (W.Va.) High,adjusts to the college game. With last year's leading scorer and rebounder, 6'11" center Randolph Morris, in the NBA, Patterson is the team's loneimposing post presence.
Still, there areenough ingredients for Gillispie to whip up his customary short-order success.He is the only man who has led different schools (UTEP in 2004 and TexasA&M in '05) to the nation's most improved record in consecutive years.Bradley can warn his new coach, though, that the Lone Star State isn't evenclose to the Bluegrass in hoops frenzy. "The expectations at Kentucky arethe highest in the whole country," he says--and Wildcats supporters aresimply salivating to see how well he and Gillispie can cook.
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy or pdf.]
|PG||Ramel Bradley (RETURNING STARTER)||6'‚Äà2"||Sr.||13.4 ppg||3.8 apg|
|SG||Jodie Meeks||6'‚Äà4"||Soph.||8.7 ppg||2.8 rpg|
|SG||Joe Crawford (RETURNING STARTER)||6'‚Äà5"||Sr.||14.0 ppg||4.0 rpg|
|PF||Perry Stevenson||6'‚Äà9"||Soph.||2.9 ppg||2.2 rpg|
|C||Patrick Patterson*||6'‚Äà9"||Fr.||17.0 ppg||12.0 rpg|
|G||Derrick Jasper (RETURNING STARTER)||6'‚Äà6"||Soph.||3.9 ppg||2.9 apg|
RETURNING STARTER*HIGH SCHOOL STATS
Nov. 6 CentralArkansas (W¬†67-40)
Nov. 7Gardner-Webb (L¬†84-68)
Nov. 24 TexasSouthern
Nov. 27 StonyBrook
Dec. 1 NorthCarolina
Dec. 8 atIndiana
Dec. 15 UAB (inLouisville)
Dec. 18 atHouston
Dec. 22 TennesseeTech
Dec. 29 SanDiego
Dec. 31 FloridaInternational
Billy Gillispiewas notorious at his previous stops for putting together lame nonconferenceschedules, but the slate he inherits in Lexington puts the Cats coach under thegun right away. UK's breathers were supposed to come early, but last week'sshocking loss to Gardner-Webb scotched that notion, and its December gantlet isespecially rugged.
Billy Gillispie(1st year)
9-7 (4th inEast)
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