A.J. Stewart starting to earn playing time

Gillispie likes the guy who leaves it all on the practice floor. To him this determines playing time and how much. A.J. Stewart has started to earn some.

As with Billy Gillispie, light seems to coincide with the release of the confines of Wildcat basketball-lockup. For the youngsters the light comes by way ‘wow, I finally get it' and the light come's on. For the more veteran player light comes by way of buying into the system.

Gillispie likes the guy who leaves it all on the practice floor. To him this determines playing time and how much. In the past and in the present, given the talent level, it determines who starts.

Seemingly A. J. Stewart spent more time in the doghouse that out. Last week apparently was the breakout week for him. Prior to the Appalachian State game Gillispie said that Stewart had had a good week of practice. He had perhaps his best game against Appy State. He followed that up with eight more productive minutes of playing time against Tennessee State. Stewart is likely to never a Michael Jordan, but what he brings to the Wildcats can't be measured in what shows up in the box scores. He has athletic ability and he brings great energy to the floor.

He had a steal against the Tigers and in a blink and a blur he had a crowd-rousing break –away dunk. On another play the very slick Tiger guard Gerald Robinson beat Stewart on a drive to the hole but Stewart prevent the lay in and sent him to the free throw line. On this occasion, Stewart with a big grin pointed to his family in the stands. He's finally having some fun. It's a case of now understanding what Gillispie wants.

"A. J. played well," Gillispie said. "He got a good run through on the first half. He's benefiting from a good practice. If A. J. continues to improve we're going to be hard to stop inside." He said they are starting to do things without thinking. Gillispie is careful to measure his comments until they get into tougher competition.

What has precipitated the change in Stewart? "Maybe he felt like he had no opportunity and the light comes on and now he's practicing much harder," Kevin Galloway said. "I don't want to say he was lackadaisical he out there, he's just out there and now he's out there making havoc and making his presence known out on the practice floor. I think he's practicing with a purpose now as a opposed to, I always thing he practiced hard."

Michael Porter said he doesn't know why it happens. "You say it's my time and suddenly you feel good – you feel confident. He (Stewart) feels like he can play and he can get minutes if he wants, if he plays hard. You have to have thick skin especially if you play here."

"He's just a sophomore that's getting use to himself and college life," Jodie Meeks said. "He's playing great and that makes our team better." It gets awfully dark in Billy Gillispie's doghouse and to kick the door down and allows some light in changes things drastically.


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