Notebook

Gillispie offers glimpse of his home

Coach making an effort to pull back the curtain

Herald-Leader Staff WriterFebruary 22, 2009 

Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie is more guarded than Jodie Meeks.

So a big surprise comes on Friday. That's when the Herald-Leader's Central Kentucky Lifestyle real estate magazine will give readers a tour of Gillispie's home.

Eighteen photographs by Joseph Rey Au accompany a story about Gillispie settling into a new home after becoming UK coach in the spring of 2007.

The story by Connie Holman details Gillispie's search for a home. As Holman notes, the UK coach looked at more houses than Meeks scored points at Tennessee last month. The process included Gillispie teaching Whitney Pannell of A.S. de Movellan Real Estate how to text message.

Once he settled on a 12,000-square-foot house in northern Jessamine County, Gillispie turned to furnishing and interior decorating.

One interesting note: Blue is not the dominant color in Gillispie's home.

Meg Smith, the wife of UK Assistant Director of Athletics Leon Smith, helped the coach with the interior decorating. She explained the lack of blue. When it comes to Kentucky blue, Gillispie gave at the office.

"If you've ever gone into the Joe Craft Center (UK's $30 million basketball practice facility), there isn't an ounce of color that isn't blue," Smith said. "His house has a natural feeling."

Last spring, Gillispie said he hoped to become more involved in Central Kentucky life. Like his decision to speak to the Lexington Rotary Club last October after the mindless snub of the year before, the coach-at-home story seems part of a greater effort by Gillispie to pull back the curtain a bit.

Now about Kevin Galloway's playing time ...

Galloway fascinates

Don't ask Kevin Galloway why his playing time fascinates UK fans. He doesn't know.

"I have no idea," he said with a smile on Friday. "I honestly do not know."

Judging by the fan interest, Galloway could be a wonderfully productive player if only unleashed by UK Coach Billy Gillispie.

Galloway hears such conjecture. "Almost every day," he said. "Most fans say, 'Hang in there. Your time will come. Just stay positive.'"

Galloway appreciates the support, while not trying not to become discouraged by the indirect message: You should be playing more.

"You have to take it in one ear and out the other," Galloway said.

The talk about Galloway's playing time reached new heights earlier this month when he contributed mightily to a victory over Florida (six points, eight rebounds, nine assists in 25 minutes). Then four days later, he played only three minutes at Arkansas.

"After the (Arkansas) game, I thought, OK, I'll bring it in practice the next day," Galloway said.

Galloway confirmed Gillispie's contention that the player volunteered to play in the final 50 seconds at Arkansas even though the game was decided. A few seconds at garbage time would not hurt his pride.

"If it's two seconds, I'll go out there," Galloway said. "I want to help out. That's part of my pride. I want to help the team."

Bubble blather

Former CBS college basketball commentator Billy Packer says it's much too early to make judgments on the many teams on the metaphorical bubble.

Although there's only five or so games left in the regular season, he said that's plenty of time to determine which teams should get bids and decide the appropriate seed.

For instance, Packer said former No. 1 Duke could receive a seeding of five or worse depending on what happens in the final three weeks.

Of course, Kentucky is one of the many teams that will determine its post-season destiny these next three weeks.

One man, two votes

In his first season as UK coach, Billy Gillispie had experienced guards in Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford and Derrick Jasper. So he dismissed the importance of Vanderbilt's unique bench location on the end line.

"You have to have leadership, you have to have confidence," Gillispie said last year. "A coach can't be out there all the time. He can't be yelling instructions all the time.

"It won't be a factor for us in the game."

Then Kentucky lost 93-52.

With relatively inexperienced point guards this season, Gillispie lamented the bench location at Vandy. Then UK lost 77-64 to the Commodores last week.

C.M. Newton, who coached at Vandy's Memorial Gymnasium with the visiting (Alabama) and home teams in his career, saw the bench location as irrelevant. Actually, he preferred the view from the baseline "because you see the spacing better.

"I bet if the truth was known, (Gillispie) spends a lot of time coaching from the end line in practice."

Such former coaches as Dennis Felton and Dale Brown made no secret of their dislike of the end line benches.

Newton, now a consultant to the SEC for basketball, was not sympathetic to coaches who complained about having trouble communicating with players at Vandy.

"If they have to listen to you all night, you got (other) problems," he said.

Vandy has explored moving the benches to the sideline. Such a move would mean the scorer's table moves to the other sideline. The benches would be about four feet below court level and 10 feet or more away from the sideline.

"The alternative is not as good as what they're doing now, I'll tell you that," Newton said.

Mr. T

Even though Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey could barely speak, he was hit with a technical foul by official Lee Cassell in a game against LSU last week.

Assistant Coach Rob Evans was not sure what Pelphrey did to draw the technical foul.

"Generally, if John gets a technical, he's pretty loud and animated," Evans said. "That particular technical, I didn't hear him say anything, so I don't where that one came from."

Because of a case of bronchitis, Pelphrey could barely talk. When he tried, he had a coughing fit.

"That's pretty impressive," freshman guard Rotnei Clarke said. "He's a passionate guy, whether it's on the floor or off."

It was Pelphrey's fifth technical foul this season (but the first since a victory over Austin Peay on Dec. 17). Going into Saturday's game at South Carolina, he had 11 technical fouls in 59 games as Arkansas coach.

Plan B

Why recruiting can be so fascinating and so difficult to judge: Mississippi Coach Andy Kennedy did his best to recruit LSU point guard Bo Spencer out of Baton Rouge Glen Oaks High.

"We wanted him and we wanted him badly," Kennedy said. "We thought he was just the kind of point guard to fit our system."

Kennedy lost that recruiting battle for Spencer to LSU. But during the recruitment of Spencer, Kennedy found another point guard.

"I was watching Bo play, and there was this kid on the other team nobody could stop," Kennedy said.

That other player was Chris Warren, the Rebels' leading scorer, who had nearly 20 points per game as a sophomore before a knee injury ended his season.

Hodge explains

Sportswriter Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun asked Florida guard Walter Hodge about the flagrant technical foul Hodge received in the game at Kentucky. The referees judged that Hodge intentionally stepped on the arm of UK forward Perry Stevenson's arm.

Hodge was ejected and missed the final 16:04 of Florida's 68-65 loss to the Wildcats.

"The guy was moving, and I didn't see his arm moving," Hodge said of the technical. "I went to step over him, and I caught him a little bit."

Hodge said he did not intend to step on Stevenson: "If I was going to do something like that, I'd go for his face," Hodge said.

Hot shooting

A story Saturday noted how Richard Morgan's hot shooting carried Virginia to a victory over North Carolina in 1989. Then, like Jodie Meeks against Tennessee on Saturday, Morgan had to face the same opponent a month later.

What made Morgan's experience more riveting was this: North Carolina recruited him for several years, then decided to give the scholarship to Jeff Lebo. Lebo was one of the defenders Morgan burned in a 39-point game.

Not that Morgan recalled the defenders. "Once you get going, it doesn't really matter who's in front of you," he said. "Because you don't see them. You just look at the rim."

Another gratifying moment for Morgan came after his scoring beat North Carolina. UNC's coach, Dean Smith, came into the Virginia locker room and offered his congratulations.

"Icing on the cake," Morgan said of Smith's generous gesture. "That's how he is."

Happy Birthday

To Billy Packer. He turns 69 on Wednesday.

Packer retired as a CBS commentator. He didn't retire as an entrepreneur.

Combining his business sense with his interest in basketball, Packer plans a multi-media wedding of fans and the NCAA Tournament this year.

Through television shows and inter-active Web sites, Packer will partner with coaching icon Bob Knight in what they hope is a new way for fans to enjoy March Madness.

"Basically, we want to go into more of how and why things happen as opposed to talking about highlights," Packer said. "We might not show a highlight on any of our shows. We're going to give, I think, some insight people haven't seen or heard before."

To help in that process, Packer lined up such championship coaches as Denny Crum, Rollie Massimino and Jerry Tarkanian to provide commentary.

Fox Sports will air the shows on March 15, March 22, March 29, the Friday before the national semifinals and the Sunday before the championship game.

The shows will be based in Las Vegas. "It's kind of like Jack Nicholson's Bucket List," Packer said. "It's something I've always wanted to do."

One of Packer's favorite topics is the changing nature of college basketball. Coaches no longer build rosters over several years. Now each year is a waiver-wire grab bag, shake it and then see what you've got.

Packer's conclusion: teams are younger and of lesser quality.

For example, Packer noted the epic 1975 NCAA Tournament game between unbeaten Indiana and SEC champion Alabama. Such seasoned stars as T.R. Dunn, Leon Douglas, Kent Benson, Scott May and Quinn Buckner were on the court.

"I look at the SEC this year, I don't know that there's a player in the conference who could start for either of those two teams," Packer said.

Even UK guard Jodie Meeks, who's shattering many records this season?

"No," Packer said. "Is he going to beat out Buckner or (Bobby) Wilkerson in the backcourt? No. Is he going to beat out T.R. Dunn or (Anthony) Murray? No."

Packer meant no offense. He admires Meeks' accomplishments. Packer simply thinks older, stronger and wiser make for better players.

"How many Kentucky teams would Jodie Meeks not start on?" Packer asked. "Lots of them."

It's debatable whether basketball or creating business opportunities brings Packer more pleasure. (The smart money would be on business.)

He likened the current economic environment to a struggling basketball team. "They're on a losing streak and not sure when it's going to stop," he said.

As for his birthday, Packer dismissed the notion of special celebration.

"My wife and I will get a pizza somewhere," he said.

Jerry Tipton covers UK basketball for the Herald-Leader. This article contains his opinions and observations. Reach him at jtipton@herald-leader.com.

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