ELDRIDGE: Gillispie embraces expectations

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- If you want to know how much of a microscope the University of Kentucky's basketball coach is under, just observe him at SEC Media Days, today in Birmingham. Before Billy Gillispie even had a seat, he had multiple members of the press trailing him from one table to another like he was the Pied Piper.

When coach Gillispie finally took his seat, he never had less than a table full of people hanging on his every word. But this is Kentucky basketball, possibly the most passionate group of fans in the country. Most coaches don't have to deal with this pressure day to day, but Billy Clyde embraces it.

"I'd rather be in a place that expects to win than in a place that doesn't have those high expectations," Gillispie said. "You expect to win every game," he continued.

Obviously Kentucky won't be winning every game this year, but Gillispie has made it known that his team will play with intensity from the tip to the final horn. That couldn't always be said of some of the more recent teams. Kentucky fans always appreciate extra effort and so far, the fans have been pleased with what they've seen and heard, even in limited opportunities.

"Things have been great," Gillispie said. "We haven't lost any games yet and other than the injuries, things are fine."

Kentucky will have to overcome multiple injuries to reach their potential this season. Three Wildcats had off-season surgery. Jared Carter had shoulder surgery, Derrick Jasper and Joe Crawford both have had knee surgeries. On top of those surgeries, forwards Perry Stevenson and Ramon Harris both have broken noses. Sophomore guard Michael Porter is also recovering from a concussion. The good news is that all of them are expected to be ready this season.

Kentucky will definitely need them. The SEC's eastern division is loaded with good talent. Two-time defending national champion Florida is a young and talented bunch. Georgia is always a tough opponent, especially with their hard-nosed style of play. Vanderbilt has defeated Kentucky four consecutive times. Then you have the preseason favorite, Tennessee.

"Every team in the east is great. I think they are all great," Gillispie said. Kentucky will have to play to their potential and to their strengths to compete at a high level in the conference. If you look at the make up of the roster, you would believe that this would be a more up-tempo team. Gillispie doesn't know at this point.

His teams at Texas A&M weren't high scoring offenses. They also didn't slow the game down either. "I think your style of play depends on the players you have. I'm not going to run just for sake of running," Gillispie said. "It doesn't matter if we score 100 points when the other team scores 101."

While it seems he may be dodging questions about his style, Gillispie made one thing clear. "We're fundamental and we're hard-nosed. We're not very secretive about what we're going to do," he said. "We are going to attack (the defense) and we are going to execute."

Coach Gillispie faced numerous questions in his inaugural SEC Media Day. All the hoopla may seem like too much to the average on-looker. However, this is just another day for the Head Coach of the Wildcats.

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