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A Sea of Blue Anwers Questions about Billy Gillispie

Much thanks to SB Nation's Kentucky blog, a Sea of Blue, and Glenn Logan for answering some questions about Texas Tech's newest head coach. Lots of excellent insight.

1. There's been quite a bit written about Gillispie's abrasive coaching methods and some times harsh player treatment. Is a fair assessment that he's tough on his players and were you okay with this coaching method.

It is fair to say that Gillispie is tough on his players.  I am generally okay with a tough approach, but some of the things Gillispie allegedly did were a little over the top, such as making players stay in the bathroom during half time if he was displeased with them, ride home in the media van rather than with the team, etc.

The problem is that as a fan, you really only get spun stories on the things he did, and generally the spin is 100% in the player's favor.  I don't know exactly what these guys that got subjected to this negative reinforcement did to deserve it, but one would assume they did something.  Unfortunately, what that was will probably never be known.  Maybe that's just as well, and I expect he will be less uninhibited at Texas Tech than he was at UK.

2. In your opinion, what was the reason that Gillispie let go at Kentucky? Was it related to more coaching issues ot off-the court things.

There were two reasons:  1) he didn't win enough and 2) Mitch Barnhart, UK's Director of Athletics, actively hated him.  Kentucky cannot accept trips to the NIT with players as good as Patterson and Meeks were.  There was clearly a rebellion on the team against Gillispie's coaching, and whether that was simply due to players disliking his coaching style too much to benefit, players acting like prima donnas, or Gillispie acting like a madman, we will never know for sure.  I'm sure all of these things played a role.

Barnhart came to loathe Gillispie, and it started pretty soon after he was hired.  In his second year, Barnhart was looking for an excuse to fire Gillispie, and Gillispie obliged him by handing him an NIT season when much more was reasonably expected, and refusing to sign a contract in favor of the sketchily-written Letter of Intent he agreed to when he came.  That was never intended to serve as a contract, but Gillispie apparently wanted it to.

So much more after the jump.

3. What can Texas Tech fans expect on offense from a Gillispie led basketball team?

Gillispie runs a fairly patient offense, and wants a lot of assists and passing and minimal dribbling.  He and Jodie Meeks butted heads repeatedly when Meeks had games as a volume shooter, and he famously told Meeks during the Tennessee game when Jodie was scoring 52 points to stop shooting.  One can only speculate at what motivated such an apparently contradictory comment, but I get the impression that Gillispie wants guards who's first instinct is to share the ball, and likes to run an inside-out offense rather than have guards out there trying to get their own shot unless it is in a late-clock scenario.

Gillispie runs the high-low a lot, rubs guards off screens, but generally prefers a more deliberate offense rather than playing for the first available good look.  He wants to try to get big people involved early and often, and wants the offense to run through the post, either high or low depending on the set.  Gillispie does like to fast break whenever possible and runs a good secondary break.

4. What about from a defensive perspective?

Gillispie believes in aggressive, man-to-man pressure defense, and has no use at all for a zone.  I'm pretty sure he didn't run a single possession of zone defense in his entire two years at Kentucky, and I'm also pretty sure he didn't spend one minute of practice on a zone.  Gillispie does not like to switch the pick and roll at all, and really gets upset when players don't fight over the pick.

If you are a lover of zone defense, you will hate Gillispie.  It's that simple.  He'd rather coach naked than play zone, unless he's changed that philosophy in the interregnum between his coaching stints.

5. It seem like I have read a number of articles that say that Gillispie to Texas Tech is a perfect fit, in large part because Gillispie will not have some of the demands that he had while at Kentucky. Again, in your own opinion, do you think this is a better fit for Gillispie?

Yes, much better.  Texas Tech is a football school, and even though their basketball program is very good and has a good following, it is not like basketball-crazed Kentucky.  Gillispie does not like the spotlight and does not crave attention.  He is a generous with his money and kind to the disadvantaged, but he is not well-spoken and dislikes the media.  He gets annoyed having to take the time to talk to sideline reporters, but after all the crap he took for being rude to several reporterettes on ESPN, I am sure he will modify that behavior in order to rehab his image.

Gillispie was rumored to be a rabble-rouser and a skirt chaser in Lexington, particularly younger girls,  These rumors have never been supported with any evidence, though, so I take them with a grain of salt, although he was a frequent visitor to local watering holes where younger people tended to hang out.

Since his stint in John Lucas' rehab facility after his DUI conviction, I expect this will not happen in Lubbock.  The glare of the media on him there will be much, much lower, and he won't be chased by people trying to catch him doing something.  Hopefully, he learned enough from his disastrous time at UK and his later legal issues to make a much better impression, and being from Texas is a real advantage in this area.

Gillispie is a very solid recruiter and a good, fundamental basketball coach.  He will, in my opinion, get Texas Tech back to winning basketball fairly quickly.

Thanks again a ton to Glenn for answering some questions about Gillispie.  Lots of tremendous insight.