Thursday, March 19, 2009

UK rant, based on a post for Vox Day

(The original post is here.)

Jamsco: 3/19/09 12:15 PM:
Nate: 3/19/09 12:10 PM:
10 losses a year at UK gets you fired.

Okay, I'm ignorant: Why is that?

A historical culture to win more? Better players? They pay the coach more?
Yes, to all three. We have a "tradition of excellence" and a record of good coaching. Rupp was in a league nearly all his own, and Patino was close (I still respect Patino as a coach). I still believe that Tubby Smith is one of the best active Division 1 coaches, but his last 2 UK years showed a deep level of burnout and lack of quality in his staff. He wasn't recruiting players that played well together, and he wasn't taking the kids he did recruit and make them into a cohesive team. I wish him well at Minnesota, because he needed to go when he did.

Now, if we can just get some minor-league professional basketball team to unload Billy Gillespie from UK, life would be perfect. He has a work ethic that can be admired, but its obvious that he's not that good of a coach.

First, you can't ask a team to do every-day full-speed practice sessions, even on game day, for 5 straight months and then expect them to have that extra step at the end of the season. You could tell in the SEC tournament that there just wasn't much left in the Cats. He needed to work them hard at the start of the season, and then back off (physically, at least) towards the end.

Also, our current team was a two-trick pony. Let Jodie Meeks drive. Post Patrick Patterson up. Run Man to Man. Lather, rinse, repeat. While Meeks and Patterson are two of the best players in college basketball today, they aren't God's gift to basketball. They set their early scoring levels because they played (and LOST!) to teams like Virginia Military Institute. When the SEC got to around the halfway mark, the opposition finally figured out how to shut down Meeks and Patterson (can we say zone and "double team"?). Gillespie showed no ability to change things up, or to vary UK's style to match what was happening. No other player could come out of the doghouse long enough to make an impact, letting an SEC full of other "two good player" teams compensate for Meeks and Patterson.

I'm also not a fan of "doghouse" coaches. UK would have a player shine for a game, but then said player will enter the doghouse and never come out again. OTOH, a non-doghouse player will quit or commit a rules violation, and the entire thing goes away. I don't care how great a coach is, that randomness messes with a team.

Finally, I have no respect for whining. Gillespie said our pre-conference schedule was too hard. No, says I. We lost at home to VMI and Miami! UK has the longest home winning streak record, and probably has the highest home win percentage, in Division 1. With the SEC in the toilet this year, UK was ranked 236th in schedule strength. You expect that from VMI or Miami, NOT from a team bringing VMI in to play at home. If Gillespie can't coach through that kind of schedule with two all-SEC players (one in contention for the Naismith Trophy), he needs to pack it in.

The players on this year's UK team should have taken the SEC championship and tournament, and at least made the elite 8. In my humble, and completely unexpert, opinion, they were overworked and miscoached. A better coach could, and would, have taken this team much farther than Billy G did. When a coach fails a team like he did, then he needs to go.

No, I don't feel the need to rant about this....

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