Kentucky Basketball and Racism

Tubby Smith is not doing so well at Minnesota.  Soon, he’ll be on the hot seat.  When that happens, the media and others will start talking about his time at Kentucky again.  Inevitably, they’ll drag Kentucky over the coals again.  Kentucky fans will be called racists again.

They’ll ignore the fact that we actually did want Billy Gillispie fired after a mere two seasons.  Gillispie is white.  So, that doesn’t fit the stereotype.  If Kentucky fans wanted Billy G gone after two years and gave Tubby nearly a decade to get it together, well, that doesn’t fit the agenda.  That makes it seem that Kentucky fans are simply crazy in a basketball sports fan manner.  It kills the idea that Kentucky fans hated Tubby Smith simply because he was Black.  That won’t do.  The hurts the media agenda to paint Kentucky and it’s fans as backward, unrepentant racist who wish for nothing more than a return to Jim Crow.

We can’t have that.  What would Michael Wilbon whine about?  How will he justify his rants against Kentucky fans?  Dick Vitale would have to admit that Tubby Smith actually failed at UK and his over emotional, lunatic rants and pleas were over the top and unwarranted.

We can’t have that.  That would require an admission of error.  Heaven forbid!

The racist thing is overplayed in America today.

For instance, the starting 5 at UK are African American. The Starting 5 at UK has been African American for the most part for over 20 years. Kentuckians get behind these kids wholeheartedly.

Somehow, these same fans who love Black kids who actually play the game hate a Black Coach simply because he’s BLACK.


How is that possible?

Tubby didn’t measure up. It had absolutely nothing to do with his skin color.

Those same “racist” fans turned on Billy Gillispie faster than they turned on Tubby Smith. Billy G is a white guy. So, do Kentuckians hate white people as well or do they dislike losing ten games a year and consistent team turmoil.

Could it be that what they wanted was a winning coach who understood the passion that they have for Kentucky Basketball. Kentucky Basketball is supposed to run the fast break in a way that makes Kentucky Derby thoroughbreds look like snails in hibernation.

That wasn’t Tubby ball. Ball Line D was and is boring. Especially when Tubby is recruiting scrubs out of Canada and Fordham to run it. THAT was the rub. 99% of Kentucky fans couldn’t have cared less about the skin color of Tubby. If the guy would have come in and rolled like Pitino or Calipari, they’d be naming their kids Tubby and Orlando. These same Cat fans bitched and moaned about Joe B. Hall for the whole damn time that he was there. Joe B, Hall made 3 Final Fours and won a Championship with his own team.

That is not to say that Kentucky doesn’t have its share of racists. Then again….so does Minnesota and every other state in America.

I don’t know how anyone can say with a straight face that the people who love John Wall, Anthony Davis, MKG, Jamaal Mashburn, Derek Anderson, Jamaal Magloire Demarcus Cousins and Jack Goose Givens, Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson and the football talent that is Randall Cobb hates Tubby Smith due solely to his skin color.

That won’t stop the media from standing by their lies and erroneous assertions.

Minnesota will eventually fire Tubby Smith unless he decides to retire after this year.  When that happens, the reason will have nothing to do with Smiths race.  It will be his record and his inability to take the Gophers to the next level.  When you pay a Coach a Top 20 Salary, you expect Top 20 results.  That’s the bottom line.

Minnesota is not getting Top 20 results from Tubby Smith.  Smith, thought, seems to believe that this money is his due based on past results.  He won a Championship in 1998.  Because of that, Tubby seems to believe that Minnesota should give him a BIG PAYCHECK regardless of results AT MINNESOTA.

Smith is no longer capable of Top 20 results.  He hasn’t been for some time.  Minnesota is slowly coming to this realization.  Too late, though.  They’ve wasted 4 years and nearly 8 Million dollars learning what Kentucky learned in Tubbys last 2 or 3 years.

Minnesota deserves this, though.  They arrogantly assumed that they were getting the Tubby of the 1990s.  Fasinatingly similar to Louisville and their hiring of Pitino.  UL thought that they were getting the Pitino of the 90s.  They didn’t.  He’s not.  Neither of them are.

There’s a lesson there.

John Wall Takes Over! Scores Career High 23 against Stanford


Name Min FG 3Pt FT Off Reb Ast TO Stl Blk PF Pts
D. Miller 36 3-9 3-6 4-5 3 4 3 1 0 0 3 13
D. Cousins 26 5-8 0-1 3-8 2 5 2 2 1 3 5 13
E. Bledsoe 30 2-4 1-2 0-0 0 0 3 2 1 0 4 5
J. Wall 45 7-15 1-4 8-8 1 4 5 5 1 2 3 23
P. Patterson 31 5-9 1-2 1-2 6 11 0 0 0 1 2 12
D. Orton 9 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 2 0 2 0 2 0 0
D. Dodson 13 0-3 0-3 0-0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
J. Harrellson 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0
R. Harris 24 3-5 0-1 1-2 1 7 1 0 1 0 2 7
P. Stevenson 7 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 0
Totals 225 25-56 6-19 17-25 15 37 14 15 5 8 21 73
Percentages: .446 .316 .680 Team Rebounds: 2

“NBA, that’s all I’ve got to say,” Wildcats forward Patrick Patterson said. “John Wall is a pro player and he wants the ball in crunch-time situations. Whenever we need a basket or something on the offensive end John is going to be the one to do it.”

Calipari on Wall and Bledsoe:

“I think we’ve got two guys when the game is on the line they are not afraid to make plays, which bodes well for us,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “You saw once again that late in the game I’m not calling a timeout. I don’t need to be a hero, let those guys be the hero.”

“Those two guys have the killer (instinct),” Calipari said. “What you want is the guys with the killer to bleed onto the others. Just a will to win.”

“For such a young team, they showed a lot of poise down the stretch,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “(Wall) is one of the fastest guards I’ve ever seen play on any level. He showed a lot of poise for his age. He’s a terrific player.”

On the other side, Wall was the only Kentucky player to get going before the break. The freshman guard had 15 points but could not do all the heavy lifting with preseason All-American forward Patterson going out of the game less than six minutes in with two fouls. Without Patterson’s inside presence the Wildcats struggled to get anything in the paint and shot just 35.5 percent from the field.

Patterson got going early in the second half on his way to his 25th career double-double, but he missed two point-blank opportunities on the same possession that would have given Kentucky its first lead since late in the first half with just over 10 minutes remaining.

He made up for it later, using a power post move to give Kentucky a 54-53 lead with 6:42 to play.

John Wall will be the first #1 Draft Pick in Kentucky History.  He or Patterson should be the First UK Basketballer to bring home the Adolph Rupp Trophy for Player of the Year.  I think one of them will bring home the Wooden Trophy as well.  Wall may well be the most highly regarded Frosh/Student Athlete to ever have worn the UK Jersey by the time this year is finished.  He is certainly lived up to the hype surrounding him as a player.  What’s more is that the guy is actually a good student and a good guy as well.

Calipari pulled off a recruiting coup with John Wall.  His second best recruiting pitch was retaining Patrick Patterson.  These are two All World Student Athletes.  I just hope that all of the anti-Cal or anti-Kentucky feeling out there doesn’t hurt them over the course of the year.  Lots of guys out there who are waiting like vultures for something, anything to pop up to stall or kill Cal and Kentucky’s momentum.  Yet, these same hypocrites defend John Wooden as if their reputations depended upon said defense.

This year, UK has three of the Top Freshman in the CNNSI Power Rankings.  Wall and Cousins are ranked #’s 1 and 2 respectively.  Eric Bledsoe is ranked at #25.  I’m sure that Bledsoe will rise as the year goes on.  All three are players.  I can see them all going to the NBA after this year.  Hopefully, Bledsoe and Cousins come back for a 2nd year.  The good thing, though, is that IF Cousins sees it as more wise to come out for the Draft after this year, it will likely mean that he has helped lead UK to a Final Four or better.

This should be a great year for Kentucky Basketball.  Patterson, Wall and the rest of the Frosh are finding ways to win this year.  Whereas last year, Billy Gillispie was finding ways to lose.


Coach Calipari, the Ex-UK Coach Media Circus and NCAA inanity.

Mike DeCourcy on the troubles of Billy Gillispie, Rick Pitino and John Calipari:

2. So the Bluegrass State has the Pitino deal, the cloud hanging over UK coach John Calipari stemming from alleged violations at Memphis, and former Wildcats coach Billy Gillispie gets a DUI charge.

Can you rank them in order of who created the biggest PR nightmare for himself? Quote: DeCourcy:

No. 1 is obviously Gillispie. He already had two DUIs in his past from several years ago, plus the difficult tenure while he coached UK. In order to get back into college coaching, he needed to keep his record clean and allow athletic administrators to remember he once had terrific success at Texas A&M and UTEP, two difficult jobs. It is not going to be easy for him to become a college head coach again.

No. 2 is Pitino. The circumstances that led to him facing an alleged extortion attempt were outside the boundaries of good behavior and good taste — and then he exacerbated the problem by blaming the media for how much trouble they were causing his family. Well, that fooled no one. Radio talk shows in the state buzzed Wednesday night with callers pointing out it was Pitino who, with his admitted infidelity, caused whatever problems exist under his roof.

Calipari? He recruited Derrick Rose, whom any coach in America would have loved to sign, and played him after the NCAA approved his eligibility. What exactly was it he did wrong?

DeCourcy is dead on.


Rick Pitino created this whole problem.  Rick brought the roof in over his own head.  He had extra-marital sex.  He covered it up.  This is a scandal of his own creation.  His own poor decision making cycle come full circle to bite him  in his ass.


Billy Gillispie.  The only guy who pisses me off more than Tubby Smith and his merry band of worshipers.  After 9 or 10 years of Tubby, I knew that there was absolutely no hope of UK ever reaching the Final Four.  Gillispie came in with fire and I really thought he was going to make things happen.  Then he goes off the deep end.  Forcing players to sit in toilet stalls and walk home alone from games and berating players so much so that they lose confidence.  The only man who would tell Jodie Meeks to not shoot.  What an idiot.

Now this idiot.  In the middle of negotiations, that heretofore, he was winning.  He grabs himself a DUI.  Consider the lawsuit all but over.  Gillispie will be lucky to walk away with 500 Grand and that is just so he’ll go away.  UKAA should put a clause in that states that Gillispie can never utter, write or even think the words/thoughts “UK”, Kentucky, University of Kentucky, Kentucky Basketball or mention his tenure at the University.  He must omit the years 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 from his resume and is not permitted to explain the omission to future prospective employers.   Lastly, he should never again be able to enter the Commonwealth of Kentucky or play against any SEC school at the Division 1 Level.

They should burn this guy.  And then burn him in effigy.  August 27th should become a Statewide day of celebration during which Billy Gillispie paper mache’ dolls are burned in effigy each year across the commonwealth.

What an idiot! we have John Calipari.  Recruited Derick Rose.  Check.  The NCAA granted him eligibility.  Check.  Then Calipari played Rose on a team that broke records and made it to the Championship game.

THEN…the NCAA–the National Collection of Asinine Assholes–comes back a year later and states that “OOPs!  We made a mistake!  But, it’s not our mistake.  It’s the fault of Memphis!”  And they want to enforce strict accountability on Memphis.  But not on Duke.  Not on the sacred cow named Coach K.  And definitely not on the Holy One on High.  The Holy of Holies.  Coach John Wooden.  Not on Pete Carrol.  Only on the little guys at the little schools or the schools with Administrations that don’t fight back.

The NCAA is full of cowards.  Memphis needs to fight.  They need to file a lawsuit.

And the rest of the member schools need to join that fight.  Especially the small schools.  Duke boosters can provide housing and jobs for Duke Athletes.  UCLA can have open and rampant cheating.  USC can have guys being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Duke can have championship runs with Corey Maggette who admitted to taking money from his AAU coach while an “amateur.”  But that’s not Coach K’s fault.  He had no way of knowing.  Duke had no way of knowing.

But somehow, Memphis was supposed to know that Rose had a guy take a test for him in Detroit, MI.

I guess Memphis should have escorted Rose to his test.  But then that would have violated contact rules.

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

The NCAA is full of shit and so are half of the reporters out there who are calling for Calipari to be “punished” by the NCAA.

Billy Gillispie is out. IT IS OFFICIAL.

“RESPECT ME!  I’m on the phone.”

What the hell was that?

By Jerry Tipton and Ryan Alessi /

On his first full day in Lexington, Billy Gillispie stood grinning in front of thousands of adoring University of Kentucky fans who came to an impromptu pep rally in Memorial Coliseum. He bathed in Big Blue love before going to a news conference introducing him as UK basketball coach.

Despite that outpouring of affection, Gillispie found himself fired two years later because his UK bosses did not believe he understood the nature of his job and its connection with fans.

” … Dedicated and passionate fans deserve a coach that understands that this is not just another coaching job,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in reading a statement at another news conference on Friday.

Winning and losing didn’t end Gillispie’s time as coach after two seasons, although his .597 winning percentage was the the worst for a UK coach since Basil Hayden’s one-season 3-13 record in 1926-27.

Ironically, failing to connect with those around him cost Gillispie his job. Ironic because in his time here, Gillispie repeatedly emphasized the importance of building relationships.

“We obviously did not achieve the results we all desired on the floor this season,” Barnhart said of UK’s 22-14 record. “Those results can occur when you are trying to grow a program. We clearly understand that.

“However, it is as important to represent the Kentucky program and the basketball program, more specifically, in a manner which best utilizes our incredible tradition, assets and platform. …

“It is my evaluation that we have not done all we can to manage the entire scope of the program and all that we expect.”

UK President Lee T. Todd echoed that reasoning. He said he spoke to Gillispie during protracted — and ultimately futile — contract negotiations about the public nature of the job.

“It’s kind of like the president’s job,” Todd said. “Nobody really writes out exactly what you have to do. Philosophically, we wanted someone that represented the entire Big Blue Nation. … This is a unique opportunity, a very unique job.”

Gillispie did not answer reporters’ questions. Holding a cell phone to his ear, he walked through raindrops in and out of Wildcat Lodge to tell the players the news and then the Craft Center to clean out his office.

Gillispie and his assistant coaches had reason to be busy. In what suggested a good-riddance sentiment, UK asked them to pack up their belongings and leave their offices by 5 p.m. (about three hours after Gillispie learned his fate in a meeting at Todd’s official residence).

The Southeastern Conference Tournament served as a stage to expose how differently Gillispie and his bosses viewed the UK job.

Gillispie, who saw celebrity as a hindrance, said the UK coach must recruit great players and coach them. Period. He did not embrace the suggestion of also being an ambassador, which showed itself in his first pre-season when he did not speak to the Lexington Rotary Club, something his predecessors did annually dating back to at least the 1950s.

Barnhart, who called fan interest in UK basketball a “cradle-to-grave love,” noted how fans drove to Omaha, Neb., earlier this week to watch the Cats play Creighton in the National Invitation Tournament.

“There is a clear difference in how the rules and responsibilities overseeing the program are viewed,” Barnhart said. “It is a gap that I do not believe can be solved by just winning games. It is a philosophical disparity that I do not believe can be repaired.”

Todd and Barnhart also spoke of their desire for coaches to provide a rewarding experience for the athletes.

The father of leading scorer Jodie Meeks suggested that Gillispie’s demanding style was distracting, if not a hindrance.

“You don’t want to throw gasoline on the flames, but, clearly, a lot of things happened behind the scenes that made it difficult for the kids to play basketball and focus on winning,” Orestes Meeks said.

Of his relationship with Gillispie, the elder Meeks cited his son’s UK record 54-point performance at Tennessee on Jan. 13.

“I got calls from every coach he ever had: baseball, basketball, all of them,” Meeks’ father said. “Except his current coach. His current coach never called. That said a lot to me. … ”

“When you start placing blame, tell them when the ship misses the harbor, do they blame the harbor?” Orestes Meeks. “I don’t think it’s anybody’s fault but his own.”

Originally, Gillispie and UK had a whirlwind romance consummated with a hiring in the first 24 hours. Without mentioning those details, Barnhart acknowledged his surprise at the unhappy ending.

“This is not a place I thought we would be at this point, or one that I would want to be,” the UK athletics director said. “However, after long and deliberate discussions, President Todd and I have decided we must charter a new direction for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program. Unfortunately there are times when a situation and the people involved do not create the right chemistry or right fit. It is our belief that is where we are and where we find ourselves with Kentucky basketball today.”

Barnhart said he and Todd have talked for a month about “dramatic differences” in how the administrators and the coach view the job of coach. Gillispie’s comments at the SEC Tournament about the job’s public component not being in the “job description” seemingly sealed his fate.

After denying any regrets in the hire, Barnhart said, “He’s a good basketball coach. Sometimes it’s not the right fit.”

I Blame it all on Tubby!  Especially this…

INDIANAPOLIS — Ah, now I know why Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie.

Turns out, he wasn’t Rick Pitino.

Say what you want about the rabid nature of the Wildcats’ basketball fans, but after all these years, that’s really all they want. And is it so much to ask?

They want a slick, sharp coach on the bench. They want him to unleash a team such as the Cardinals upon the rest of college basketball like Huns attacking the Great Wall. They want to break the scoreboard, demoralize the opposition and serve notice upon the field.

Most of all, they want possibilities.

Frankly, they want to be Louisville.

And if you know a Kentucky basketball fan, you know how painful that must be to admit.

Tell me. Short of a scandal or three, has there ever been a worse day to be a Kentucky fan? First of all, Gillispie was fired in disgrace, which either came much too early (the prevailing national opinion) or much too late (the overwhelming viewpoint of the Wildcat faithful). Then, before you can dribble a ball the length of a court, their designated next-guy, Billy Donovan, flatly turned them down … again. Evidently, having two years to reconsider didn’t change a thing for Donovan.

Then, after all that, they had to withstand this:

Louisville, the new team of Kentucky’s old coach, looks a lot like a champion-in-waiting.

The Cardinals were darned near perfect against Arizona on Friday. They ran, they shot, they passed, they defended, they rebounded. They drubbed Arizona 103-64, the most points Louisville has scored in an NCAA Tournament game. If it hadn’t been for a late burst of mercy, the 39-point margin might have been 60.

For one night, at least, the Cardinals had the look of greatness. They are so deep, so skilled. The players come at an opponent all at once, and all can dribble, and all can shoot. They dunk, and it is like hearing an airplane break the sound barrier. It is difficult to tell guards from forwards or subs from starters. Stopping them is like trying to hold back a flood with a sponge.

Want to know how wonderful the Cardinals were? Just ask Pitino, who sounded like Roger Ebert at a foreign film festival.

“Fabulous,” Pitino said.

“Brilliant,” he said.

“Dominating,” he added.

So it went. Pitino, 56, also said “tremendous” and “great” and “terrific” and “beautiful” and “unselfish.” You kept waiting for him to give his team an enthusiastic thumbs-up. For the record, Pitino also suggested that humility was very, very important.

The thing is, who is going to disagree? The Cardinals shot 57 percent from the floor, and 93 percent from the free-throw line, and they outrebounded Arizona, and they had 29 assists to only nine turnovers. It looked as if everyone else was playing one game of basketball, and the Cardinals were playing something better, something more pure.

Did anyone see a flaw? Oh, Pitino apologized for the final dunks of the game, but they were just exclamation points on a paragraph. The message already had been sent.

Who is going to stop Louisville if the Cards play this close to capacity? Pitt? North Carolina? Connecticut?


“It’s going to be hard to beat them if they play like that,” Arizona coach Russ Pennell said. “I think it has to be someone who has the quickness to really put pressure against their fullcourt press. Yet Louisville kind of preys upon people who do that.”

For the opponent, that’s the conundrum. For the Cardinals, it is matching their own excellence.

“We know we’re not going to play like this again,” Pitino said, “because of the types of defenses we’re going to run into now. It’s going to be a totally different type of game. We did a great job getting second shots tonight. Michigan State and Kansas don’t give you those.

“Guys, we all know we’re one game from the Final Four. We’re three games from the national championship. I think this team has stayed grounded. Their egos are in check. I’ll find something to be upset about. We’re not going to fall in love with ourselves because we had a good game. We understand what we’re up against.”

In the old days, back before the Wildcats were in a snit — you spell it with an “N” and an “I” and a “T” — coaches at Kentucky used to talk like that. They, too, played like a regal team about to storm the castle. They, too, looked like the team to beat.

As for that brunet in the fifth row cheering on the Cardinals?

No, that wasn’t Ashley Judd.

Was it?

If Tubby had left to the Hawks, UK could have hired Pitino and all would have been right in the Big Blue Nation.  Instead, Tubby waits until he’s decimated the team to leave.  Mitch screws up and makes a bad hire and Lee Todd steps in and fires him.

One could blame CM Newton for making the wrong hire.  He hired the wrong assistant.  Instead of hiring Billy D back in 97, he hired the guy who would be the cause of the storm now crashing through the Big Blue Nation.

Oh, and by the way, UL is on the way to the Final Four and probably a Championship.  lol

It could be worse.  The moon could crash into the sun tonight.  haha

This all sounds like a really bad Univision Soap Opera from Mexico.

This one is for you Billy G:

Billy Gillispie Gone? It’s official?

With the loss to Notre Dame in the NIT, Billy G is gone.  So say the talking heads. It’s all over the message boards. I think UK is making a mistake.

I think given the time and space to grow into the job, Billy G would have made a fine coach at UK.  Let’s face it.  UK has no Roy Williams waiting in the wings.  That may never come to pass now.  In years to come, UK will regret this day.  Billy Gillispie is going to go somewhere and take some team to the Final Four.  He’s going to win some Championships.   And he’s going to do it with a team of players that he recruited.

UK and it’s fans are going to look on ruefully and be left with thoughts of what might have been.  We may be looking on happily.  Having recently watched our Team win a  Championship with Calipari or some other coach.  If the UKAA makes the right hire post-Gillispie.  Or we make look on wistfully.  Wishing that we and the UKAA  hadn’t made the mistake of a precipitous decision to fire a coach who just needed a bit of time to turn it all around.

I’m a bit saddened by all of this.  Two years ago, I was excited.  It was the end of the Tubby era.  I thought we would enter a Golden Age with the gunslinging, Dr. Pepper drinking man from Texas.  I had a rug made in Herat, Afghanistan and mailed it back as a welcome gift to Billy Gillispie.  I wonder what will become of that rug.  Will Gillispie take it with him or leave it for the next coach.  It won’t be something that he will look on with fond memories if he takes it with him.  For all I know, it winds up in the garbage.  Hopefully, he’ll pass it on to the next coach if he doesn’t want to keep it himself.

Both sides have made mistakes.  Both sides need to step back and re-evaluate before they move on.  Billy G needs to sit down and realize that UK is not just any other job.  Mitch and Pres. Todd need to realize that they have a coach who can win and who needs the time to make the transition from the small pond to the Big Blue Ocean.  The fans need to make this same realization.  G needs to learn how to manage this program and be it’s caretaker and not only it’s coach.  Patience is called for here.

If not, I think we are making a mistake of epic proportions.  I’m no one to whom anyone will listen.  No one to whom anyone should necessarily listen.  These things may have already been discussed by one side or the other and dismissed for all I know.

Something just doesn’t feel right, though.  And the truth doesn’t seem to be out there.  Those outside the circle may never know the truth.  Certain people have an invested interest in keeping the truth away from the general public.  Such is always the case.  Some folks are saying that they are only telling “10% if the story.”  Perhaps, there is a lot more out there concerning Gillispie that we don’t know.  If it’s in the interest of the UKAA for it to come out, it will be made plain.  If not, we will never find out.  Perhaps, that’s simply damage control.

Lots of the things that people are complaining about seem to be small to me.  If Gillispie were winning already, he’d be forgiven most of this.  But since it’s taking longer to win, he’s been hit hard.  I don’t think Gillispie realized how big of a jump he made and how fast he was expected to produce.

It’s probably all moot now.

It seems as if the regretful decision has been made.  We’ll see.

I know this much.  If Mitch doesn’t hit a GRAND SLAM Coaching Hire this time around.  He’s next!  If not, Lee Todd should be.

The next phase of UK Basketball, begins Friday.   Will it be the beginning of a new Coaching Era or an extension of the ongoing era.  I’m hoping that G stays on and leads UK to many victories.  I’ve never liked the media anyway.

Kentucky and the 2009 SEC Tournament.

Kentucky takes out Ole Miss in the first round.  The team played energetically and seemed to be running on all cylinders.  Darius Miller makes a statement and shows his potential for good things in the 2010 season.  Meeks gets his 25.  Patterson gets his after announcing that he’ll be back in 2010.  

I’ll take it.  

On Patterson, if he still is staying come the NBA Draft…I’ll believe it.  The kid has to take into account his draft status and such before making a definitive statement.  But it sounds like he has no problem with the coaching staff.  

This has been a strange year at UK Basketball.  Hope Pat and Jodie stick around and make next year phenomenal.  Next year is a pivotal year in the Billy Saga.  Let’s hope the tournaments of 2009 are harbingers of good things to come.

The Big Blue Nation is tired of losing.  

Meeks and Patterson lead UK over Ole Miss.


Next Up:  LSU

After a thrilling comeback win over Kentucky gave LSU the SEC title, the Tigers suffered a letdown to close the regular season, losing their last two games.

Six days off could end up refreshing the 20th-ranked Tigers, who begin their push for their first SEC tournament title in 19 seasons with a Friday rematch with the Wildcats in the quarterfinals.

The Tigers (25-6) have been one of college basketball’s surprise teams under first-year coach Trent Johnson, riding a 13-game win streak in conference play to their first regular-season league title since 2005-06. LSU clinched the championship with a 73-70 victory at Kentucky on Feb. 28, rallying from 12 down before hanging on for the win.

LSU played like a team that was mentally and physically tired after that game, falling 75-67 at home to Vanderbilt on March 4 and 69-53 at Auburn on Saturday.

The Tigers shot a season-low 32.1 percent against Auburn and scored their fewest points since a 47-45 loss to Tennessee last season.

“Their focus was not lacking, but there were some guys who were tired and banged up and all those kinds of things,” Johnson said. “Days off at this time of the year would benefit any team. … I’ve been in situations where you had a bunch of guys with a day off, and we came out at struggled.


…and they lost.

Question is will that be Billy Gillispies last game in the SEC?  Will UK slide into the backdoor of the NCAAs or are they NIT bound?  If they do go to the NIT, what happens then?

I’m not very excited about an NIT bid.  If I was home, I’d watch anyway.  Here, in Afghanistan, Ii won’t get the chance to watch.  AFN pretty much ignores the NIT in favor of the NCAA.  Which is the way it should be with the programming/air time as tight as it is.

Whatever happens.  GO CATS!!!

Billy Gillispie “went after the Oklohoma State job” last spring

So says Seth Davis at the half time show of the UCONN/PITT Game.

Either Seth is mad on crack or Billy G has some explainin’ to do. But that would explain the inconsistencies of the past season. Why Gs head and heart seem to be in and out of the game this year. Maybe he doesn’t like the fishbowl. Can’t handle the pressure.

If so. If he did seek that employment opportunity, I hope he leaves after this season. Simply resigns and moves on. But I hope he mans up and does so in time for UK to hire someone with time left to recruit and keep those 5 Star recruits that are lined up for UK already.

Maybe he can simply switch places with Travis Ford. Perhaps, Kentucky needs a favored son to lead it back to the mountain top.

Who knows. Perhaps G isn’t in the right place. Whatever happens, I hope he either signs that contract and makes Kentucky home or he makes up his mind to depart.

Time to man up Coach G!

What do you think?

What happened to Kentucky?

UK will be tons better when our coaches are no longer working for this years class THIS year or plucking them up from the JUCO ranks. If we give Gillispie time, he may drive us mad in the meantime, but he’ll get the recruiting in order. If we don’t, we’ll have to watch as another coach comes in and plays catch up for two or three more years. I don’t know if G is the right man for the job. I don’t know if he will turn it all around. I don’t know if Patterson and Meeks will stay or not. I know this. All of the guys who didn’t want to work in HS aren’t going to miraculously develop a work ethic just because they are at UK. These tall guys who were borderline talent in HS become almost borderline talent in HS. The real diamonds in the rough that I’ve seen over the years have been guards like Fitch. Most at any rate.  He was short but tough. He got overlooked. Tubby got lucky. Erik Daniels was a late developer. So Tubby got lucky there as well. Eirk Daniels was a guard in HS and shot 3 or 4 inches taler late from what I read. Hayes was a short PF who was over looked because of his stature.  These are the guys that Tubby was pulling.  You can’t build your program off of those guys.  Not if you want a Championship anytime soon.  Stevenson is a tall, skinny lazy kid who wants it all to come easy.  Your typical Tubby recruit.  At UK, it ain’t always gonna come easy and there’s tons of pressure. Same with most of the late spring recruits and the guys that no true title contenders truly recruited. Guys like Jared Carter, “Woo” Orbzut, Sheray Thomas and Bobby Perry.   Jared Carter should have been showed the light and sent to Georgetown after his Frosh year. UK isn’t the school of welfare basketball schollies. That bench needs to be cleared and Stevenson is one of the guys that needs to be cleared off of it. Instead, he and guys like Porter are starting at UK. And people wonder why they got beat by UGa. Hell, look down the bench. Patterson, Meeks, Miller Then you got a bunch of sometimey little Nancyboys who can’t make up their mind if they want to be winners or walk ons for the girls team. Stevenson….every time I see the guy, I just shake my head. Dude should be a 8 or 9 minute role player. Yes, it’s spelled role. Not roll. lol Stevenson should be a role player. NOT A STARTER. Until UK Coaches learn the difference between a role player and a starter, UK will be getting G Webbed and VMI’d and run over by Bulldogs at the moment of greatest need of a win. Next year comes Orton and Hood. That will be help. Eventually, if the coach keeps recruiting there will be a team at UK. A basketball team. A complete team. 2 Guards (LG or PG and a 2G) 2 Forwards (SF and PF) 1 F/C These gentlemen will know without question their roles on the team. To start and kick ass. Then there will be a second group comprised of players who are up and coming starters and role players. These guys will know their roles. Right now. Meeks and Patterson know what it is that they are supposed to do. The others…I don’t think they have a clue. Porter won’t shoot. Stevenson won’t rebound. A.J. Stewart won’t stay on the team. Galloway plays like a man possessed in one game then a man dispossessed the next. Harrelson plays like he thinks the post is a hostess ding dong and he’s hungry one game. The next he goes on a diet and throws up three balls and collects empty calories with airballs. UK needs a basketball team. From what I can tell, UK has a coach who is losing it. Two guys who are all World. One potential all worlder. ….and a bunch of fluff and Carruth wannabes. Go Cats. Go somewhere. Collect yourself. Grow a pair. Learn to at least fake the funk. This is Kentucky! It ain’t Vandy or Tennessee or Rutgers. It’s UK where Basketball is King. If you can’t comprehend that!?!?!?! Then don’t come back next year. That goes for everyone from the coach down to the sweat sweepers.

This isn’t a “Fire Gillispie!” rant.  It’s a getused to the idea that you are at Kentucky and getting paid a Top Ten Salary.  We expect Top Ten Results in exchange for that Top Ten Salary.   Coach G.  You’re not into history.  We are.

7 National Championships.  That’s history.  The history that we want you to be concerned with mostly though is the history that we expect you to make.  We expect you to be the 5th Coach at  UK to win a National Championship.  UK did not hire you to languish at the rear of the top 50 or to fall on your face.  We expect you to get out there.  Get the top recruits to come to UK again.  We expect results.  We don’t want excuses.  We don’t want bewildered looks and players being thrown under the bus.  We want our basketball to be as fast as those beautiful horses that run in the Derby and at Keeneland.  Defense is great.  Offense is better.  If you produce, you can write your own ticket.  If you don’t, we’ll run you out of town faster than those horses make that 2 minute mile.

Boys, it’s past time to get it together.  Get it.  Make it happen.  It’s time for one of those miracle runs.

And everybody said “Amen!”

Oh yeah.  Billy G, lots of our fans get upset when you talk to a lady like that.  Don’t do it.  Treat the sideline reporters and the rest of them like they are humans.   So I don’t have to hear the old people complain.  They get crotchety and hearing them whine gets on my nerves.  Throw us a bone Billy G.

P.S.  Billy G, invest in about 40 blue ties of various shades and designs.  You aren’t at UTEP or Texas A&M anymore.  It’s not orange.  It’s not yellow.  It’s blue.

Jodie Meeks blasts the Hogs for 45 points!

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Jodie Meeks scored 45 points, setting a Bud Walton Arena record and leading short-handed Kentucky to an easy 79-63 win over Arkansas on Saturday.

Meeks scored 22 points in the first half and 23 in the second, capping his spectacular performance with a two-handed dunk with just over a minute to play. He helped the Wildcats (18-7, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) withstand the absence of center Patrick Patterson, who sprained an ankle in Tuesday night’s win over Florida.

The rebuilding Razorbacks (13-10, 1-9) were without suspended point guard Courtney Fortson. Michael Washington and Stefan Welsh scored 14 points each for Arkansas.

Meeks, a junior, went 17-of-24 from the field and 7-of-12 from 3-point range, breaking the 40-point mark for the third time this season.

Associated Press

Meeks gets 45 in 79-63 Win over Arkansas and John Pelphrey

Gillispie talks about Galloway and Patterson.

Next victim:  Vanderbilt!

Rolling through a Bracket near you…

Kentucky Express

Which team outside of the Top 25 can make a March Run?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a current topic in the sport.

This week’s question: Which team currently outside the top 25 has the best chance to make a long run in the NCAA tournament?

Greg Antony’s answer:

I’m going with Kentucky. The Wildcats started slow last season, but really came on under Billy Gillispie in the second half of the season despite losing Patrick Patterson late. This season, they’re younger, but I think they’re better defensively. And with Jodie Meeks emerging as one of the best players in the nation, they are explosive offensively. Perry Stevenson anchors the defense, and getting Ramon Harris back in the rotation gives them some experience in the frontcourt. Two things have to happen for the Wildcats to really be dangerous. First, they have to cut down on their turnovers. They can extend their pressure defensively and force teams to try and play in the half court, where their quickness and athleticism can be more of a factor. Second, some of their younger players have to become more consistent because depth always is important in the tournament. This is a team that features two players capable of carrying them offensively. The ‘Cats may be back!

Jason King’s answer:
Kentucky may not be one of the best teams in the country, but the Wildcats have two of the nation’s best players – and maybe its best coach. Well on his way to SEC Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive season, Billy Gillispie is someone opponents hope to stay away from in March. Along with being one of the best Xs and Os guys in college basketball, Gillispie’s teams always are disciplined. They play hard and they play smart. The favorite to win the SEC title, Kentucky should enter this season’s NCAA tournament high on momentum. The Wildcats may not be able match most of their opponents’ depth, but not many schools have two future first-round NBA picks in their starting lineup. Guard Jodie Meeks, who has eclipsed the 30-point barrier six times, is a national player of the year candidate. Forward Patrick Patterson is one of the most skilled big men in the country, and wing Perry Stevenson is no slouch. Still, the biggest difference-maker for Kentucky wears a suit and tie and stands on the sideline. With Gillispie, the Wildcats always have a chance.

Steve Megargee’s answer:
Conventional wisdom suggests you can’t go far in the NCAA tournament without an elite point guard, but it’s tough to ignore Kentucky’s dynamic duo of power forward Patrick Patterson and shooting guard Jodie Meeks. Kentucky’s 90-72 victory at Tennessee established the Wildcats as the class of the SEC this season, even though they haven’t cracked the national rankings. Since dropping their first two games of the season, against VMI and North Carolina, the Wildcats have lost just twice all season (at home to Miami and at Louisville). Kentucky enters the week with 11 wins in its past 12 games. And the one loss was a down-to-the-wire game on the road against a Louisville team playing as well as anyone in the nation. While the players on this roster have never advanced beyond the second round of the tournament, Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie reached the Sweet 16 two years ago in his final season at Texas A&M. Don’t be surprised if he’s back in the regional semifinals this season.

Jodie Meeks: Breaks Dan Issels Record, Scores 54 at UT

“In any legitimate conversation right now about National Player of the Year, Jodie Meeks has to be metioned with the four or five guys we’ve been mentioning all along,” proclaimed ESPN hoops analyst Jimmy Dykes on the broadcast Tuesday night. He repeated the same sentiment via phone Wednesday.

“Jodie Meeks has to be there,” said Dykes. “You don’t base the National Player of the Year on just one game, you base it on the whole body of work. But the kid came in averaging over 24 points a game, the number five scorer in the country.”

Then Jodie flat blew the roof off the joint.

Jodie Meeks ripped through Thompson-Boling Arena this week like a snowstorm through the Mongolian Steppes.  He scored 54 points on the way to breaking Dan Issels single game scoring record that’s held for 39 years.  Absolutely amazing.  If that wasn’t enough, he did so while playing solid defense and keeping his team involved and kept UT out of their minds trying to defend him.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said he worked with his players for several days trying to come up with a game plan to keep the ball out of Meeks’ hand.

To say it didn’t work is an understatement. Meeks went 10-for-15 from 3-point range (he also set a school record for 3s in a game), made all 14 of his free throws, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists. He scored 26 points by halftime.

He was at 52 points and potentially let the record pass him by late in the game in order to garner one more assist by throwing an alley oop to a wide open Patrick Patterson.  He even apologized for taking the one bad shot of the night as the shot clock expired.  Running past the bench and Coach Gillispie stating “My bad, my fault.”

After the game, he was humble enough to tell the press that it was all due to the team and that what he really wanted was to get a win at UT.  The scoring record was not top on his mind.  Victory was.

My kind of guy.

Meeks has singlehandedly put UK back in the National Conversation.  If UK is ranked come the next poll, you can thank Jodie Meeks.

Coolest of all was that his father (and Uncle) were on hand to see the spectacular performance.  I’ve met both Jodie Meeks and his father.  Way back when they were visiting UK.  Prior to the commit, if I remember correctly.  I met them at the UK Bookstore with my friend Rick (WildCatRick of WCN).  You always meet interesting folks if you hang around Rick.  The Meeks are good people.  So someting like this is doubly awesome.  Because it’s happening to genuinely good folks.

Congrats to Jodie and his family.  It’s a hell of an achievement.  It was a game for the ages.  Legendary.  Jodie Meeks is now a part of UK lore right alongside Issel, Nash, Dampier, Riley, Kenny and Antoine Walker, Mashburn, Prince, Bowie, Chapman and Wah Wah Jones.  He’s in the Book.

And one last thing.  Thank You Jodie Meeks.  It was a pleasrue to watch you become legend.

Dan Issel Speaks…

But there is always a moron around who refuses to shut his pie hole.  Woody Paige, you get the vote this go around.

Wayne Chism bemoans UTs inability to stop Jodie Meeks…

The Day After, Meeks Still Humble.

Meeks humbly told Issel he didn’t mean to break the record or even realize he was doing so. His only intention, he said, reiterating what he said after the game, was to finally knock off the rival Volunteers in Knoxville.

“It’s an honor to me,” Meeks said Wednesday. “I don’t see myself as being legendary or anything like that.”

Issel disagrees.

The onslaught resumed immediately after halftime, as the Vols apparently forgot what Meeks did to them in the first 20 minutes.

Late in the shot clock in Kentucky’s first possession following intermission, Meeks asked for a clear-out at the top of the key, drove on Prince, stumbled a bit, recovered and swished a jumper. Then came a drive past Tyler Smith from the wing. Then a 3 in transition. (Some courtside observers thought Meeks had a foot well inside the 3-point line, so Issel might ask for a review of the videotape.) Then he hit another 3 after a handoff from teammate Ramon Harris.

Jodie Meeks making History

Making History

Making History

Jodie Meeks of Kentucky made 14 of 21 shots, including 9 of 14 3-pointers, and scored a career-high 46 points in the Wildcats’ 93-69 victory over Appalachian State on Saturday.

Said Meeks: “It is a good feeling to get 46 points. I give credit to my teammates for finding me. I didn’t know how many points I had until I made a free throw and had 38 points.”

His 46 points are the most by a Kentucky player since 1971.

I knew Jodie Meeks was going to be special at UK when I met his father right before they committed to Tubby Smith.   Jodie was on no one’s radar to be a Collegiate SuperStar.  If he keeps going at this level, he’ll be in rare air.  Up there with the Kentucky Greats.  Issel, Walker and the like.  The first star of the Gillispie era.

Congrats to the young man on a stellar game and keeping his head on straight all the while.

Mr. and Mrs. Meeks are rightfully proud.  What an excellent young man.

Rock on Wildcats!

Cats pull down first win of the Season

The Kentucky Wildcats defeat the Delaware State Hornets 71-42 bringing them to a 1-2 record.

Yes, that’s right.

UK starts off the 2008-2009 Season 1 W and 2 Ls.  Losses coming against UNC and………VMI.  Yep.  The Virginia Military Institute out of Lexington, Virginia.  The Keydets defeated the cats in the home opener at Rupp Arena 111 to 103.  I know.  The Cats score 103 points and lose.  Doesn’t seem possible.

Billy Gillispie isn’t starting off the season with much promise.  Even so, if this team gets it’s PG problems sorted out.  If Liggins matures fast enough.  Porter develops into a bit more than a moderately skilled role player or the Harris Point Forward experiment pans out.  Who knows.  It might be a good season.

The talking heads at ESPN and Sports Illustrated are saying that this is a down year in the SEC.  The UK OOC schedule is pretty light.  The Cats will have plenty of cupcakes to use as a learning curve.  The question.  Will UK have enough OOMPF to the schedule to make the NCAA Tournament at seasons end?  Gillispie will not make any friends if UK misses the NCAA tournament.

I’m hoping that UK turns it around.  Patterson gets in the Game and starts scoring as he did in his pre-injury Frosh days.  Meeks learns about shot selection.  Liggins and Miller can bring it and not let being Freshman get in the way of valuable contributions.  Harrelson and Galloway can translate some of those numbers from the JUCO ranks to the DIV 1 side of the house.  Harris matches intensity with offensive output and brings that fabled summer game to the season with him.

This can be a good year.  I’m hoping for the best.  It will only get better from here.  I hope.

All Eyes on Billy Gillispie.

It should come as no surprise.  Random school does it.  Anything.  It doesn’t matter.  From recruiting 8th graders to UCLA paying players to stay at UCLA.  Whatever it might be.  Any school does it.  No headlines.  No outrage.  No real objections.

UK does it.  Suddenly it’s a problem.  Billy Gillispie inks an 8th Grader.  Dick Vitale screams that it’s a sign of the Apocalypse.  Billy Donovan inks an 8th Grader and it’s a sign of his genius.  Billy Gillispie holds midnight madness a week early.  Headline news.  Four other schools did the same thing this year.  Can you name them?  A UCLA Booster paid it’s players thousands, tens of thousands over a ten year period.  Openly.  It was an open secret.  Absolutely not a peep from the NCAA.   Duke Boosters hire parents of players into positions for which they are unqualified and help them obtain loans for housing for which they are woefully financially unprepared.  Not a sound.  Not a whimper.  An Emery Envelope falls open in the hands of a UCLA fan containing $1,000.00.  Supposedly this envelope originated with a UK booster.  UK is put on two years probation.  Almost given the death sentence.  Emery was sued over this and settled out of court.

Now that UK has a Coach that will play the recruiting game within the rules.  He does things that journalists have always found “questionable” but rarely made much noise.  That is the old days.  A Kentucky Coach doing it is news.  Now they will make noise about it.

Jeff Goodman.  He admits that everyone is doing it.  But now that UK is doing it, he’s got himself a story.  That Baylor was doing it or Kansas or Oklahoma State were doing it.  Not big enough.  UK.  That’s a different story,  And one that must be written.

It’s a lack of journalistic integrity. It’s a lack of integrity within the NCAA Rules and Infractions Committee. It’s been there since the beginning.

Oct 13, 2008 | 7:54AM

I have to admit I wasn’t surprised that Daniel Orton, one of the top big men in the country, committed to Kentucky over the weekend while in town for an early Midnight Madness.

Not because Kansas took itself out of the equation when the Jayhawks took a pledge from forward Thomas Robinson.

But because it certainly didn’t hurt that Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie paid Orton’s father, Larry, to speak at camps in Lexington on three separate occasions this past summer.

Let’s be clear. This isn’t against the rules.

It’s just Gillispie being Gillispie.

Remember, he was basically the guy that came under fire for being one of four coaches to hold Midnight Madness a week before the “official” start of practice.

Creative? Absolutely.

On the verge of being unethical?  It depends who you ask.

Larry Orton admitted he was also paid to speak at Kansas and Oklahoma State, but he only picked up one paycheck from each of those schools.

C’mon. He may be articulate, knowledgeable and could even rival Bill Clinton in terms of his ability to captivate a crowd, but that’s not why he was there.

He was there because he is Daniel Orton’s father.

AAU coaches, high school coaches and many others affiliated with top recruits have collected a paycheck for getting up in front of young kids at these summer camps.

Texas Blue Chips director Mitch Malone spoke a couple times at Baylor this past summer. He was involved in Ekpe Udoh’s transfer from Michigan to Baylor and also coaches Quincy Acy – who committed to the Bears and is one of the top players in Texas. There are plenty of others who take advantage.

It’s getting out of hand and isn’t illegal. Not yet.

It’s triggered an NCAA proposal ( in which a school is not able to employ a speaker in its men’s basketball camp or clinic who is involved in coaching prospective student-athletes or is associated with a prospective student-athlete as a result of the prospective student-athlete’s participation in basketball.

I don’t mean to go after Orton here, but this guy isn’t exactly on par with, say, legendary high school coach Bob Hurley.

His background: a couple years of junior college ball, a cup of coffee at Old Dominion capped off at Cameron University in Oklahoma. He’s also an assistant AAU coach on his son’s team.

However, Orton’s resume doesn’t matter. He says he speaks about the recruiting process and “what’s going to happen once the kids get to school” and “to get kids to understand it’s hard work.”

“I’m not trying to get any special privileges or anything like that,” Orton said. “I just think I’ve got something to say. I think I’m a pretty good speaker.”

That’s not why Billy Gillispie has brought him to Lexington on three separate occasions – two with his son.

Orton wouldn’t divulge how much he was paid per appearance, but it’s likely somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$1,000 a pop plus travel. That’s how much two other high school coaches were compensated to speak at one of the UK camps.

Orton’s other son, Terrence Crawford, who played for current Kentucky assistant Glynn Cyprien at Oklahoma State, also made numerous appearances at the Kentucky camps.

Larry Orton was recently unable to confirm whether schools had offered Crawford a position on their staff.

“I heard Kentucky and Oklahoma State both offered him a job,” Orton said. “I don’t know. Nothing’s done until it’s done. If he gets a job, it’s going to come out, anyway.”

As we know, that isn’t illegal either.

Kentucky and the NBA Draft — Joe Crawford

Another year, another NBA Draft. Another year with no Kentucky players being projected to be drafted.

Neither Joe Crawford nor Ramel Bradley are projected to be drafted. Bradley has no chance. He won’t even get a cup of coffee in the NBA. This will make Tubby fans sad. They are so proud when Tubby Smith “gets’ guys into the NBA in this manner. They literally fall over themselves pointing out that both Erik Daniels and Gerald Fitch spent 5 or ten minutes on an NBA roster.

Joe Crawford may geta late 2nd round draw. If not, he will get a couple of calls for free agency before he has to head to Europe to play ball. I think Joe will get on in the same manner as Chuck Hayes.

OF course, the mindless Tubby drones will all credit Orlando. Saying that he is the reason. Another Tubby recruits gets in the NBA due to Tubby and his excellent development skills. I laugh at the thought.

Joe came out of High School highly regarded. His growth was retarded by Smith. Later, Billy Gillispie accelerated his growth. 4 years under a Coach (Gillispie) who knows how to develop, utilize and SHOWCASE talent and Joe Crawford would be looking at the late First Round and guaranteed money.

The Tubby era saw two Orlando recruits go First Round for the guaranteed money. One was a guy who stayed the course through four years of turmoil and dissent that was not seen even in the Probation years–Tayshaun Prince. Is there anyone who would argue that Prince was not a steal when Detroit swooped him up. Then there was Rondo, more team turmoul and another Draft where a UK player was a steal for a team in the late first round.

I’m hoping those days are over. Patrick Patterson should go high first round. The recruits that Gillispie and his team are bringing in should see UK back in the top of the draft. That in turn will help recruiting. Recruiting is a machine that feeds off of highlight reels and draft potential. If a Coach can get his recruits into the NBA, more and more high talent will fall in line for that Coach. More talent translates to deeper runs in the tourney.

Talent combined with good or great coaching will translate into Championships.

Good Luck in the Draft, Joe. I hope some team sees your skill and talent and picks you up.

Go Cats!

Lessons in Blue

Coach Gillispie’s first year at Kentucky

For the new occupant of one of college basketball coaching’s most prestigious seats, it was turning into the honeymoon from hell.

As he went down the bus steps, Todd reached over to give the coach a “hang-in-there” pat on the knee.

As the UK president recalls it, Gillispie raised his head and said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” The new coach looked, Todd says, “like a whipped kid.”

Rumors galore

At the news conference in which he was introduced as Tubby Smith’s successor, Gillispie publicly acknowledged that he had had a pair of alcohol-related traffic arrests in the seven years before his hiring at UK (one was pleaded down to a lesser charge, and the other was dismissed for lack of evidence).

The 48-year-old coach is divorced.

Those two factors seemed to make speculating on the new coach’s personal life a statewide obsession. A Herald-Leader article about Gillispie’s purchase of a $1.45 million, six-bedroom home in Jessamine County was the most viewed story on in 2007.

Gillispie had not been on the job two weeks when the first rumor about him Ð that former Kentucky basketball player Derrick Hord had felt compelled to take the keys away from the coach at a UK-sponsored meet-and-greet Ð made its way around town.

By December, when Gillispie’s first UK team was struggling mightily and the mood surrounding the program was surly, rumors about the coach were rampant. Callers to Lexington sports talk radio shows were mentioning them without challenge. The talk was pervasive all around the state.

All of which is unfortunate, since there appears to be no evidence that any of the most widely circulated rumors were true.

Hord, the 1980s-era Kentucky forward, says he never attended a UK reception with Gillispie, much less one where he asked for the coach’s keys. He laughed when asked about the story.

By late last summer, it was being frequently rumored that Gillispie was behaving raucously at Sal’s Chophouse and Malone’s.

Bruce Drake, one of the owners of both establishments, says those stories “aren’t true. I’ve heard tons of rumors about Coach and our places, and none of them were true, not one of them.”

Drake notes that his restaurants subsequently started using Gillispie in TV ads, “and we obviously would not have done that if he’d been behaving badly in our place.”

Last autumn, the hot Gillispie rumor was that the coach had been involved in a verbal confrontation with former Lexington police chief Anthany Beatty in the bar at the downtown Lexington eatery DeSha’s.

There was even dialogue associated with that tale, with Gillispie supposedly asking Beatty if he knew who he was, and the police chief replying, “Do you know who I am?”

It was all complete fiction.

Misty Carlisle, general manager at DeSha’s, says, “I can promise you that story is absolutely untrue. Yet I have customers come in here arguing with me, that they know it’s true. Coach has only been here two or three times, and he’s never had a drink in his hand and never been in any confrontation.”

Beatty Ð who now works for UK Ð says he never had any interaction at all with Gillispie until meeting him at a memorial service for UK equipment manager Bill Keightley in April.

Another rumor that was widely spread was that university officials had ordered their coach to hire a driver. Both Gillispie and UK officials, however, say the coach does not have a driver.

Perhaps the most widely circulated Gillispie tale involved rumors that the coach had gone swimming with a pair of waitresses (in some versions of the story, the pair were topless) in a pool at The Merrick Inn, a restaurant that is part of a Lexington apartment complex.

Libby Murray, owner of The Merrick Inn restaurant, says “Good Lord, no, Coach has never been in the swimming pool here. It is absolutely beyond me how all that got going. It was all just conversation. Never happened.”

When asked about the Merrick Inn story, Gillispie laughs. “Anybody can say anything about you that they want,” he says.

UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart says that, early on, the university was hearing the same talk about its new coach as everyone else and was “concerned.” But no one ever provided the university with any credible report that Gillispie had actually behaved poorly in public, Barnhart said.

Says Todd: “One thing Mitch said to me when some of this discussion was going on, with everyone walking around with a cell phone with a camera in their pocket, if this stuff was going on, it would be on YouTube or whatever. And it never was.”

One has to think that coming into a new job in a new community where one isn’t well known and being the subject of so much gossip would be hurtful.

“You can control your character,” Gillispie said. “What you can’t control is what anyone might say about you. I did hear some things that were brought to me, but it’s not something I do worry about at all. I’m very proud of the way things have gone for me here.”

Gillispie says his close friend, Kansas Coach Bill Self, often repeats a story to illustrate what life is like in an Internet age in the fishbowl of big-time college coaching.

“Coach Self said if you were driving down the road and you were talking on your cell phone and you made a mistake and pulled in front of somebody and you cut them off a little bit, then it is probably going to be reported that you have a bad problem with road rage,” said Gillispie.

Luther Deaton, the Lexington banker who has become a Gillispie friend, says he sees some signs that the rumor-mongering has made the coach a little cautious in his public dealings with people.

“Sometimes when people approach him for pictures, I see him sort of hesitate,” Deaton says. “I think that comes from having to think, ‘How will this be used?'”

Nicholas DiFonzo, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a rumor expert, says Gillispie’s two prior alcohol-related arrests “likely served as a ‘plausibility threshold’ that helped these rumors spread, in the same way that the fact that Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein made the [false] rumors that he is a Muslim plausible.”

In explaining the wide spread of rumors that appear to be untrue, “it’s possible that they might be traced back to a faction that opposes Billy Gillispie,” DiFonzo said, “or it may have just been really entertaining stories involving someone of great public interest in Kentucky.”

By the first week of March, when UK had turned Gillispie’s first season around on the court by going 12-4 in the SEC, the off-court chatter about the coach had died down dramatically.

“I hope it didn’t calm down just because we started winning ballgames,” says Todd. “But there seemed to be a correlation there.”

The Lexington Herald leader finally takes a time out from their negativity marathon. This article sets out to debunk myths, humanize Gillispie. It portrays him as a very like-able figure. I was certain such was the case all along.

The rumors were unfortunate to say the least. No doubt in my mind who was responsible for the rumors. Any time things became heated on the internet, the primary culprit was some die hard Tubby Smith fan. The Tubby click. They know who they are. People who loved Tubby Smith. People who started to hate UK fans who they believe ran their beloved Tubby off.  These folks are more fan of Smith than they are fans of the program. Sick folks who would spread rumors in such a manner.  Attempting to destroy a man.  Where is the class in that.  I’m sure Smith was proud of them.  Their finest hour to be sure.  They’re still there.  Waiting.   Anytime something happens, they’ll be there to trump up any challenge to the program into catastrophic disaster. You see them on websites such as WildCatNation, KSR and A Sea of Blue. Always defending Tubby against all slights percieved and imagined.

At any rate, we can tell that this piece was not written by Jerry Tipton. That moron couldn’t write a positive column about Jesus Christ, Gandhi and the Buddha achieving World Peace. He’d find some negative spin on it.

Kudos to the Herald Leader for finally acting like a home town newspaper.