Gillispie might not be a lock for next season

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMarch 9, 2009 

John Clay

One-shot (UK basketball) notes:

■ When was the last time you saw this Kentucky basketball team actually have fun?

■ You don't have much fun when you are the first team in UK basketball history to end its regular season on a four-game losing streak.

■ Scene from a long second half of the season: When Billy Gillispie took Jodie Meeks out of the game Saturday, the coach was in his crouch in front of the bench. As Meeks came to the bench, he leaned down to hear Gillispie's comments. Meeks nodded, but when he got past his coach, his shoulders slumped and he let out a sigh.

■ Despite what's being said publicly, my gut says a decision on whether Gillispie will be back to coach next year has not been made.

■ By either side.

■ Billy Donovan quote: "It's not hard to see what they're going to do offensively, get the ball to (Patrick) Patterson and (Jodie) Meeks, as they should."

■ It's not a good sign when one of your prized freshmen, DeAndre Liggins, plays all of four minutes the final three games of the regular season, including zero on Saturday in Gainesville.

■ Nor is it a good sign when your other prized freshman, Darius Miller, does not take a shot in the final regular-season game.

■ This time of year, freshmen aren't supposed to be freshmen.

■ Before the season, would you have predicted that Morehead State would make the NCAA — congrats to Donnie Tyndall — and Kentucky would not?

■ Auburn is playing the best basketball in the SEC right now.

■ ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi insists Auburn, 64th in RPI, has no shot to get in the tournament, but the Tigers have won eight of their last nine.

■ So if Florida beats Arkansas on Thursday, Florida-Auburn could be an NCAA play-in game Friday.

■ I still think it's possible only three SEC teams make the big draw.

■ UK's RPI has slipped all the way to No. 80.

■ Jodie Meeks has made 5 of 25 three-pointers during his last three games.

■ On Jan. 13, after Meeks scored 54 points in UK's win at Tennessee, Gillispie opens his news conference by joking (with a needle), "I'm really disappointed we haven't been able to develop a third scorer."

■ On March 7, after UK lost at Florida, a questioner asks about UK's lack of scoring options outside of Patterson and Meeks, and Gillispie responds by saying he doesn't appreciate his players being "attacked."

■ History says no team with a non-winning conference record has put two players on the All-SEC first team.

■ You just know the national media is salivating over a possible Kentucky-Minnesota NIT matchup.

■ Best-case scenario: Patterson and Meeks return next season, Daniel Orton is the real deal, Darius Miller blossoms, Gillispie develops a point guard.

■ Worst-case scenario: Patterson and Meeks leave. All the pressure falls on freshman Orton's shoulders.

■ So Florida's Walter Hodge stepped on UK twice — on Perry Stevenson's arm at Rupp, on the Cats' neck with 18 points at the O-Dome.

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com. Read his blog at Kentucky.com.

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