Should Kentucky need to strengthen its front line this season, Matt Pilgrim won't be the answer.
The NCAA denied Pilgrim's appeal to waive the rule that requires transfers to sit out a school year, UK Coach Billy Gillispie said at a Friday news conference.
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The denial may have been disappointing, but not surprising.
"When he came here, that's what we expected," said Gillispie, who added that the appeal was Pilgrim's idea.
Pilgrim, a native of Cincinnati, played two seasons for Hampton before transferring to UK last summer. Looking on the bright side, Gillispie noted that the ruling means Pilgrim can play the entire 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons for the Cats.
"It'll help us in the long run," Gillispie said.
Gillispie and Liggins
Although it was common knowledge in media circles in Rupp Arena last Saturday, DeAndre Liggins' seemingly late arrival to the Indiana game did not register with Gillispie.
When asked about Liggins arriving barely an hour before tip-off, the UK coach said, "I'm not aware of that."
Gillispie added, "I know he was in the locker room when he was supposed to be."
Players are required to be in Rupp Arena 40 minutes before tip-off, the UK coach said.
Liggins played 23 minutes against Indiana. He had six turnovers, one shy of the season-high seven he committed against VMI.
Gillispie defended Liggins' impulse to make plays. "You can sit there and not look for growth in anything and just take a safe haven," the UK coach said. "That's not going to get you to do your best."
UK in Louisville
Gillispie applauded UK's tradition of playing a regular-season game in Louisville. He shrugged off the small crowd that came to the public practice last season.
"I wouldn't have come out to watch us practice last year," he said. "We weren't playing well."
Gillispie called the idea of playing a game in Louisville as "a real good tradition."
ESPN, the destination
Gillispie visited ESPN's complex in Bristol, Conn., earlier this week. He came away impressed by the size of the complex.
"I don't know if there's a town or not in Bristol," he said.
Gillispie noted the many employees (4,500, he said) and 24-hour-a-day activity.
When Gillispie lamented the open shots passed up by the Cats, a reporter asked if freshman Darius Miller fit that category.
"He's passed up some shots," the UK coach said. "He likes to be offensive-minded. He's a real team player. He likes to please everybody on the court."
Miller must grow more comfortable in anticipating scoring opportunities, Gillispie said.
Among scholarship players, only Jared Carter (4.3) averages fewer minutes than A.J. Stewart (4.9). But Gillispie suggested Stewart might be ready for a breakout performance.
"A.J. is coming on like gangbusters," the UK coach said. "He's playing better than he's ever played here. He's really maturing."
Tickets are available for UK's games against Tennessee State (Monday), Florida Atlantic (Dec. 27), Central Michigan (Dec. 29), Vanderbilt (Jan. 10) and Auburn (Jan. 21). Tickets can be ordered at UK (1-800-928-2287), Rupp Arena (859-233-3535) and via the Internet (ukathletics.com or ticketmaster.com). ... Dave Baker, Kyle Macy and sideline reporter Rob Bromley will do the TV call Saturday.