Pratt's comments about Gillispie revealing

One would think that as a former Kentucky All-American, and the analyst on Kentucky's Big Blue Network radio broadcasts, that if any former player had access to former coach Billy Gillispie it was Mike Pratt. That was not the case, and is one of the most revealing reasons why Gillispie was not the right fit for Kentucky basketball.

The information relayed from Mike Pratt, UK's analyst for radio broadcasts, to KSR's Larry Vaught reveals a disturbing trend that has made it obvious why former Kentucky players were so outspoken against Billy Gillispie over the last months of his tenure as Kentucky coach.

Pratt, acting as one of the point men on the UK search for a new coach on behalf of his alma mater, was in attendance when President Todd and Barnhart met with John Calipari for the first time last weekend, and came away very impressed with the preparation Calipari exhibited during the discussion.

"He was very well prepared about what was good, bad and ugly about UK now and in the past," Pratt said. "He asked all the right questions and I could tell he wanted to be there. That got me excited. He was so prepared that it jumped out and screamed at me that he wanted to be at Kentucky."

Pratt informed Vaught that he never got that impression from former Billy Gillispie, who was relieved of his duties at Kentucky following a 40-27 record in his two years at Kentucky.

The information Pratt relayed to Vaught was rather startling, "I never had that same feeling that Billy was that way. I was not around him that much. I went to his first press conference and never got to meet him. I just watched and listened the last two years. I just never felt he was really comfortable with the job."

Not around Gillispie that much? From the outside one would think that Pratt would have been one of those with more access than the average former player, given his position as radio broadcast analyst. This provides further evidence that Gillispie's comfort level at Kentucky was not what it should have been given the level of the program on the national scene. Despite Kentucky being off the national radar competitively for a fourth consecutive season the program remained one in which every move was scrutinized by fans, local and national media; not to mention former players.

That lack of comfort, possibly due to Gillispie's more reserved personality and possibly due to his lack of realization of just how big Kentucky basketball is, ultimately led to the coach being relieved of his duties. UK cited an inability to reach a contractual agreement as the formal reasoning for the action in a letter to Gillispie; but Barnhart and Todd spoke more on the subject of a poor fit; a topic the national media also echoed.

Gillispie was obviously out of his element at Kentucky, just as this writer from rural Eastern Kentucky would be if uprooted and dropped in the middle of a major metropolitan area, where trees and grass are sparse.

With the hiring of Calipari, who was not considered two-years ago, but should have been, the Wildcats have a coach who is not just much more comfortable in the limelight, but seems to revel in being in the spotlight.

Memphis, while not being at the same level as a Kentucky, has a prestigious basketball history in its own right; and like the Wildcats for years Memphis basketball was the only game in town.

The Calipari hire is akin to trying on a number of pairs of shoes, then finding that one pair that feels just right.

Discuss Vaught's conversation with Pratt on WildcatChat, your destination for serious discussion of Kentucky athletics for more than a decade and KSR's forum for premium subscribers.

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