With Gillispie gone who will take over?
Posted by ibleedblue040 on March 27, 2009
With Billy Gillispie officially being fired today, the focus quickly switches to who will his replacement be as head coach of the University of Kentucky basketball team. Many believed Billy Donovan, current coach of the Florida Gators, would step in and take over but a press release from Donovan late this afternoon killed all rumors of him leaving for another school. There are many men rumored to have been asked about the job. Here are our top candidates:
Calipari would be the perfect fit in my opinion. He understands how to work the media and how to keep his program and his name in the news in a positive way, the major fault of former coach Gillispie. Calipari is perhaps the best recruiter in the nation as well, landing countless top 10 recruiting classes including the #1 class for next season which includes the #2 and #3 players in the nation already, with a possibility for John Wall, the #1 player in the nation. Calipari is a terrific motivator as well; he lets his players play their game, which gives his teams the most chance to win. Calipari plays a very fun system that prepares players for the next level, which feeds right into the recruiting aspect. You may even see Calipari congratulate players when they come out of a game, something Gillispie rarely did. The only knock on Calipari is his involvement with a recruiting scandal in his days at UMass. He was accused of paying players and having agents talk to players such as future NBA star Marcus Camby.
The second viable candidate for the UK coaching position is current Oklahoma State head coach, and former UK player, Travis Ford. Ford, although he has been coaching for a short period of time, has accomplished quite a lot at his destinations. He is currently 210-156 (.574) in his coaching career and has guided two different programs to the NCAA Tournament. Ford runs a very fast paced system, though seems to preach little defensively. Oklahoma State ranked near the bottom of major conference teams in defense, something UK is not accustomed to seeing. There are a couple knocks on Ford. One is that he has the reputation of being rude to the media and unapproachable, similar to Billy Gillispie, and he does not have any prior success at a major university, unlike John Calipari. Travis Ford also has not proved he can recruit top talent, failing to land a five-star player in his career.
The third and final man that I have put on the short list is Villanova coach Jay Wright. Wright is a young, energetic coach who seems to get the most out of his players every year. Wright has a great personality and is great with the media, something UK has not seen in over 15 years. Jay Wright has had major success in a very difficult conference so lack of success is not an issue. He has made the NCAA Tournament five straight seasons, including four times to at least the sweet sixteen and two Elite Eight appearances. Wright also made the tournament twice as the coach of Hofstra, giving him seven in his career. Wright is also a great recruiter, already landing countless five-star prospects in his time at Nova. Wright has the #3 recruiting class for next year lined up as well and knows how to recruit in his region. There are no major knocks on Wright at this point other than can he handle the program and all it takes to run it, and I think he can.