Billy Clyde Gillispie shown the UK door

It has been the grist of rumor mills all over SEC chat rooms, and it is now official. Billy Gillispie is no longer the head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. After a two year run, the PTB@UK decided that finishing in the middle of the pack in a mediocre basketball league was, in a word, unacceptable.

Make no mistake about it SEC fans, the league has been down for the last couple of years, and until the level of talent catches up with the other power conferences, the league will remain mired in mediocrity. Getting the talent is every bit the responsibility of the head coach, just as much as gametime X’s and O’s. Gillispie, it seemed, was unable to excel in either area.

Kentucky must excel in college basketball. Gillespie couldn’t get it done. Simple as that.

Reminds me of Richard Williams during MSU’s FF run in ’96 when he sarcastically said to an interviewer, “yeah, I guess we’re a crummy league: Kentucky and the 11 Dwarves.” Even though he was joking, there was a lot of truth in that statement as to how the league is perceived in the national sports media. Arkansas has had some nice runs, so has Florida. MSU, LSU, and others have made some noise in the big dance. But Kentucky is the blue blooded royalty of the conference.

Speaking of Arkansas, it must have really irked long time Hawg Fans to see Mike Anderson’s Mizzou team use “40 minutes of hell” to put Memphis to bed last night. I know the Arkansas faithful were tired of Nolan Richardson’s mouth, and Anderson was part of his regime, but his system was always a tough out. And, the rest of the conference probably looked kind of longingly at Mike’s team last night too. Any one of them could have gotten him from UAB. Oh well, spilled milk and all.

BTW Kentucky fans, the rumor is that Billy Donovan will take over the helm in Lexington (didn’t we just go through that?). Now, I’ve got a question for you. If Billy D.’s last two years at Florida would have occurred at Kentucky, would you now be showing him the door?

/just sayin!

P.S.
the rumors that MSU’s Kodi Augustus was planning on transferring were put to bed today. “I love Mississippi State,” said Augustus, as reported by CL’s Kyle Veazey. That means the top 7 starters and reserves return for next season. Time to hit the weight room and bulk up. If anything, this year’s Big Dance shows that the Big East is as good as advertised, and the one thing they can all do well is grind it out in the half-court. That requires muscle in the front court.

Read more:
Billy G out at Kentucky

Gillespie the latest victim of Kentucky pride

Kentucky pulls trigger; Arkansas shows patience

From Channel 11:

UK News conference – Part 1 | Part 2

Gillispie runs from WHAS11’s Mark Hebert

LIVE CHAT: Cats and Cards

Gillispie Out: As it broke on WHAS11 News

Continuing WHAS11 Gillispie coverage

WHAS11 Gillispie announcement

P.P.S.: Want to know why Memphis’ Calipari won’t be offered the gig at UK? Calps’ last two teams were good enough to win it all, but they fell short. Free Throws. They couldn’t hit their free throws, and it cost them two National Championships. Can you imagine a Kentucky team hittingless than 60% of their free throws? I can’t either. Calipari can get the talent, true, but it’s the little things that separate great teams from championships.

P.P.P.S.: Alabama hires Anthony Grant (Donovan protege)

A Miami, Fla., native, Grant is no stranger to the Southeastern Conference having served 10 years on the staff at Florida, five years (1996-2001) as an assistant coach and five years as associate head coach under Billy Donovan (2002-06). Grant helped lead the Gators to their first national title in 2006 and laid the groundwork for UF’s 2007 national championship before departing for VCU. While on the Florida staff, the Gators won the SEC Tournament in 2005 and 2006, captured three SEC Eastern Division titles (2000, 2001 and 2002) and earned back-to-back SEC Championships in 2000 and 2001. In 1999 and 2000, the program made its first back-to-back ‘Sweet 16′ appearances in school history and appeared in the national championship game in 2000. During Grant’s time in Gainesville, the Gators advanced to the NCAA Tournament in eight straight seasons and compiled a 226-98 (.698) record.

Noted as a strong recruiter, Grant recruited and coached nine McDonald’s All-Americans and seven NBA first-round draft picks at Florida. Four of his last seven recruiting classes at UF were ranked in the top five nationally. At VCU his 2007 recruiting class was ranked as the fifth best in the mid-major ranks.

State hammers LSU

barry-stewartSEC semi-final action in Tampa saw Mississippi State defeat regular season champion LSU 67-57 to advance to tommorow’s final against the winner of this afternoon’s Tennessee-Auburn matchup.

State jumped out to an early lead over a Tiger team that appeared a half-step slower throughout much of the day.  After taking a two point halftime lead, the Bullies made a key defensive change midway through the 2nd half, when Jarvis “Swat” Varnardo and Phil Turner switched defensive responsibilities on forward Tasmin Mitchell.  Mitchell went for 41 points in LSU’s mid-season double overtime victory over the Dogs. Swat absolutely smothered Mitchell who managed 15 points on the day.

POY Marcus Thornton was held to 14 points, 0-6 from the 3 point line.  State was led by Varnardo’s 19 point, 7 block, 7 rebound effort, and Barry Stewart’s 17 points, including 10 of 12 from the line.  The State bench contributed 13 points, 7 from super-sub Kodi Augustus, whose late season heroics have provided the x-factor sparkle that has changed State from a good team to an excellent one.

The victory was MSU’s fifth straight.  No doubt, the Bulldogs are playing their best ball of the year.

Box score

Read more from SEC Sports

more from ESPN, and more (including comments) from VZville

Bullies smash Gamecocks 82-68

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Barry Stewart scored 21 points, most of them from 3-point range, and Mississippi State beat South Carolina 82-68 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Dee Bost added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs (21-12), who won their fourth straight and might have eliminated the Gamecocks from consideration for the NCAA tournament.

South Carolina (21-9) has lost three of four down the stretch, a skid that could offset the team’s strong RPI (No. 49) during the NCAA’s selection process.

The Gamecocks felt like they let this one get away. They had a double-digit lead early and a four-point advantage at halftime.

But they were outplayed in the second half. Stewart did a big chunk of the damage, hitting consecutive 3s that put Mississippi State ahead for good.

Zam Fredrick led the Gamecocks with 20 points.

Boxscore

State is playing their best basketball of the year.  Coach Stansbury said the same in the post-game interview after yesterday’s 19-point victory over Georgia.

Today’s key performance was turned in by Barry Stewart, whose clutch 3-pointers tied the game at 55, and then put the Dogs ahead for keeps with just over 7 minutes to play.  Late season X-factor Kodi Augustus, who reminds me of Donte Jones on the ’96 Final Four Squad, had another solid performance, as the State bench provided the difference in these two otherwise evenly matched teams.

Tomorrow’s semi-final is against LSU, a 67-58 winner over Kentucky in today’s early game.  Here’s hoping the third time’s the charm for State.

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