Billy Gillispie’s first season at Kentucky last winter was anything but smooth.
The Wildcats were knocked off at Rupp Arena by tiny Gardner-Webb in their second game of the season and went just 6-7 in non-conference play. Though Kentucky bounced back to go 12-4 in the Southeastern Conference during the regular season, it was knocked out in the first round of the SEC tournament by Georgia, then lost to Marquette in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
However, Gillispie says he is looking forward to building on last year’s 18-13 finish.
“We’re excited,” Gillispie said. “Everything is going very well this summer. We’ve looking forward to a new year and being healthy, something which affected us very much last season.”
Forward Patrick Patterson missed the final five games of his freshman season with a stress fracture in his left ankle. Guard Jodie Meeks was limited to 11 games as a sophomore because of a sports hernia. Both had surgery in April.
Patterson made a big impact in his first year on the college level as he averaged 16.4 points while leading the team with averages of 35.7 minutes and 7.7 rebounds. Meeks averaged 8.8 points and 23.2 minutes.
“Patrick is doing better and better and better,” Gillispie said. “He’s ahead of where he was expected to be. Jody is getting close to having no soreness. He’s been back playing pick-up games, conditioning and lifting weights. He’s doing well.
“Both their rehabs are going very well and we’re looking forward to having them back next season.”
The Wildcats figure to count on Patterson and Meeks heavily following the graduations of guards Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley and the transfer of guard Derrick Jasper to UNLV.
Meanwhile, Gillispie has come under fire in the coaching community in recent months for getting verbal commitments from two recruits still in junior high school. That caused the National Association of Basketball Coaches to put forth a recommendation that high school players not be offered scholarships until after they complete their sophomore years.
Gillispie, though, doesn’t sound like a guy who is going to change his recruiting tactics to suit his peers.
“I haven’t changed my opinion,” Gillispie said. “You try to assess what you should do and what you need to do and go from there. I believe every single coach has to do what he feels is best for his institution. You have the responsibility to recruit the very best players within the rules that gives your institution the best chance to win.
“I’m a company man and you always want to do what an organization asks of you, especially an organization I respect as much as the NABC. At the same time, I’m not going to sit by the wayside why the competition gets ahead of you.”
Spiders' Geriot Out
Richmond suffered a big blow when junior center Dan Geriot injured his right knee in a pick-up game in Philadelphia recently. He is likely to undergo surgery for a torn ligament and sit out the 2008-09 season with a medical redshirt.
Geriot led the Spiders with averages of 14.3 points and 5.5 rebounds last season while playing 29.4 minutes a game. He is a big reason why Richmond posted its first winning season since 2003-04 by going 16-15.
Geriot was also 88th in the nation in percentage of shots (30.1) and 96th in percentage of possessions (28.5).
The 6-foot-9 Geriot is the only returning interior starter. Coach Chris Mooney told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that two 6'9" forwards, senior Jarhon Giddings and sophomore forward Justin Hunter, could see expanded roles. They will get a chance to gain some additional experience as Richmond has a trip to Spain next month.
Another Atlantic 10 Conference team, Massachusetts, gained a player as forward/center Sean Carter transferred from Oregon State and will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2009-10.
Carter averaged 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.4 minutes a game last season.
"We are very excited to add a young man with the character, work ethic and enthusiasm of Sean Carter," Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg said. "Sean has the intangibles we are looking for in a student-athlete. /p>
"He adds much-needed size and athleticism in the front court. With his rebounding and shot-blocking ability, he will be able to come in and contribute.”
Massachusetts may add two more transfers before the summer is over as Connecticut point guard Doug Wiggins and Memphis forward Hashim Bailey are considering the Minutemen.
TAMU-CC Under Fire
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, which began its basketball program in 1999-2000 and made it to the NCAA Tournament in 2006, has been accused by the NCAA of eight major violations in its athletic program, including two in men’s basketball.
Assistant coach Kevin Norris reportedly made 43 impermissible telephone calls to recruit players. Prospective transfer Thijin Moses, who was playing at DePaul at the time, was allegedly allowed to live with three other basketball players for 11 days and provided illegal transportation four times.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi must provide a rebuttal to the NCAA by Oct. 29 then will have hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions from Dec. 5-7.
“You never want to have allegations, so there's disappointment there,” said Trent Hill, the school’s vice president for institutional advancement. “We're less than 10 years old. Some of it might be not having the processes and procedures in place for self-reporting. Those won't ever happen again.”
Big 12 Slate Released
The Big 12 Conference has announced its 2008-09 schedule and among the marquee matchups are: Texas at Oklahoma on Jan. 12, Oklahoma at Texas on Feb. 21, Kansas at Oklahoma on Feb. 23 and Texas at Kansas on March 7.
John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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