VAUGHT: Experience does matter

Sometimes it is best to let a coach explain what is going on during a season. "My first year, we had seniors that were good players and good kids. So we had a good team. Then we lost those guys and had to go out and bring in a lot of guys that lacked experience. We went from being very experienced to a very inexperienced team.

"In this league, youth is tough. I would think anybody would say that and it is hard when you go from an experienced team to an inexperienced team. When you get into the grind of conference play, young players have a hard time. It is difficult for them to maintain any consistency even if they get off to a good start. They eventually wear down.

"So when you go from an experienced team to a team without any seniors, it's not hard to do the math and figure out what kind of season you probably will have."

No, that was not Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie making excuses for his team's play this year. Instead, it was Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings recalling his second year at Vanderbilt and comparing that to what has happened to Gillispie and Arkansas'' John Pelphrey this year.

Granted, there has been plenty to second guess this season. Yet in fairness to Gillispie, it's important to take to heart what Stallings had to say. Certainly he's got nothing to gain by defending Gillispie, or Pelphrey. Instead, he was merely giving a blunt, honest answer to a speculative question.

That's why if there is a reason to ignore any pleas to make a coaching change at Kentucky, this would be it. Stallings understands the value of experience and knows Kentucky lacks that this year.

UK's best two players -- Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks -- are second-year players since Meeks missed most of last season with his injury. The Cats still don't have a player that has started 60 games.

Of course, talent can overcome a lack of experience and UK must upgrade its talent. But in fairness to Gillispie, maybe the experience factor is as hard to overcome as Stallings says.

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