20 Kentucky

The new boss is great at whipping up instant winners, but he could use a big man (or three)
November 19, 2007

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.

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.

STARTINGLINEUP

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy or pdf.]

 

POS. PLAYER HT. CLASS KEY STATS
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
KEY RESERVE
G Derrick Jasper (RETURNING STARTER) 6'‚Äà6" Soph. 3.9 ppg 2.9 apg

RETURNING STARTER*HIGH SCHOOL STATS

NONCONFERENCE

SCHEDULE

Nov. 6 CentralArkansas (W 67-40)

Nov. 7Gardner-Webb (L 84-68)

Nov. 21Liberty

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

Jan. 5Louisville

Analysis

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.

Grade: A

FAST FACTS

Coach

Billy Gillispie(1st year)

2006-07record

22-12

SEC record

9-7 (4th inEast)

NCAAtournament

2nd round

my SI

SI.com/kentuckyhoops

Instant access tothe latest and best Wildcats stories, stats and fan blogs from across the Web,selected by SI's editors.

PHOTOMICHAEL CONROY/APSHORT STORY Crawford is part of a deep backcourt that could put four guards on the floor at once. ILLUSTRATION

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)