DEMAREE: Grading Gillispie's Cats

After the first ten games, this year's addition of the Wildcat basketball team has been a mixed bag, to say the least. Trying to figure out head coach Billy Gillispie and his Cats is like trying to figure out David Copperfield the illusionist without the magic.

There been very little magic with this team. But giving the benefit of the doubt, there's got to be a method to the madness.

It's been said that to be a good politician, give short answers and to the point, in that area, Gillispie gets and A+. In his press conferences he leaves a wondering mind still wondering.

His starting lineups sometimes leaves one scratching his or her head. However, his explanations are explicit in that he makes it very clear that you earn your playing time. Gillispie explains, "I have always believed you play like you practice." Again however, certain disciplinary actions such as Joe Crawford, Ramel Bradley and A. J. Stewart have played a part. Even in those actions, a cloud of ambiguity seems to be the course of action when explanation is called for.

In the case of the Tennessee Tech game when Crawford and Bradley rode the bench the entire first half, Gillispie forced the media to be Inspector Clouseau's. In his post game press conference, he said, "They just didn't play. I love them to death and just made a decision not to play them the first half."

To his credit, we know that there have been some important missing parts but what is with the continued starting of Mark Coury, who has started nine games. When asked if he had ever seen that at UK, former UK head coach Joe Hall said, "never have I seen that unless it was a K A (intramural) team." Coury played the first two minutes in the first half and the first two minutes of the second half of the Tennessee Tech game.

So we give Gillispie's starting lineups a C.

At Gillispie's Friday presser, he called for more intensity by explaining the lack of fight in his team. The team responded to his exhortation by a marked increased in intensity. By this untrained eye, we counted 15 hustle points in which they beat Tennessee Tech to loose balls. By the coach's assessment, for the most part, the team's effort has been good.

For intensity we give a B+.

We won't bother to grade the offense and defense at this point because the players are still getting adjusted to Billy Gillispie. And in addition, his team has had more than it's share of injuries. "We are starting to understand him a lot more," A. J. Stewart said in explaining the adjustment period. "The team is coming together a lot more – we have a lot more confidence playing for him now."

Brighter days are ahead for the Cats when they get all of their parts back and functioning together. Former UK assistant and now head coach Mike Sutton explained a comparison of UK and defending National Champ Florida, a common opponent. He said UK has more talent than Florida. He said UK has more size and is more athletic.

The grade for Gillispie's team must still be an "Incomplete" for the season. But there are some tests that we can grade along the way.

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