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Billy Gillispie Press Conference Coverage




Dec. 1, 2008

Head Coach Billy Gillispie

On the controversy with DeAndre Liggins at the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament…
“I think, to be fair to a young person, you need to leave it alone. I understand that it was a story. I think you need to give a young person the benefit of the doubt in making a mistake. College is a time of growth, and we all make mistakes, especially young people. If young people didn't make mistakes, they definitely wouldn't need us. His teammates understood; I understand, and we've moved on. You think about (DeAndre Liggins), who went to high school last year in Las Vegas. He had a lot of folks there who wanted to see him play. He's a very competitive person, and was probably disappointed he wasn't playing more at the start. I understand that. I like competitive people. To be able to come back, the easiest thing for him to have done was to have not played on Saturday. A lot of people would have too much pride to admit a mistake by playing. I think that showed a great deal of toughness and caring and remorse by playing. It would have been easy for him to say, ‘I'm not playing today' because of what happened on Friday.' But he didn't, and I give him great credit for that, and give his teammates great credit for how they handled it. We didn't let it become an issue, it won't become an issue, and it hasn't become an issue. Let's give (Liggins) the benefit of the doubt, as a young person.”

On if it was a hard decision to allow Liggins to play in the game against West Virginia…
“We all make mistakes. We all do things, that if we had a chance to make a different decision and a different moment, and we might not have made that decision. It's a learning experience. You move on. It would have been easy, as a coach, to say ‘You can't play.' But I don't think in too many cases you want to cut off your nose to spite your face. His teammates said they wanted him to play in the regular rotation to give us the best chance to win, so that's what we did. I think it shows a great deal of courage by him and about our team, and how much they care about each individual.”


 

 

On if there is a solution to the team committing a high number of turnovers…
“There better be a solution. A lot of it has to do with the speed of our cuts. A lot of it has to do with guys coming up to the high posts in a timely manner. A lot of it has to do with decision making. A lot of it has to do with athletic ability, or lack of. I don't think we're a fast team. I think we're a big and strong, athletic team in that sense, but not a really quick team. I think in most cases, we have been at a disadvantage quickness-wise. I'm not complaining; I'm excited about the guys that we have. But quickness-wise, I don't think we are extremely quick. I don't think (lack of quickness) is completely detrimental. I would rather have size and versatility. We haven't handled the ball very well. I do think we are getting better at it, and I think we will make some adjustments. We all have to do a better job.”

On adversity and the team's performance at the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament…
“It was a really good weekend for us. I don't want to have 54 turnovers in a two-game period. I like adversity because I think the teams that are smooth-sailing right now are going to experience adversity at some point. I like adversity early in the year. You don't like to get beat. You don't like to turn the ball over 54 times in a game, but I'm not opposed to having adversity. We definitely had adversity by the way we handled the ball (in the Las Vegas Invitational). As far as growing up, we had a choice to make when we were behind Kansas State, when we were nine down with 14:33 to go. We were either going to compete or get demolished. They were a very hungry team playing extremely hard. They were good at what we've been bad at so far: transition points, offensive rebounds, and overplaying in the passing lane. We knew it was going to be a challenge, that depended on if we were going to step up to the challenge or not. And we did. I thought we were really physical and competitive after the start. We faltered down the stretch quite a bit, as far as decision making and turning the ball over. Those are correctable things. The most important thing I saw was the competitive level, which was out the roof. We're not finishing plays like we need to, but we got tough in the paint and made it difficult for other teams to score. In the second game (against West Virginia), we started out slow again, but we did the same thing. The reason that we were trailing at halftime was that we missed seven point-blank lay-ups with no one between us and the basket. We can't continue to do that. Our margin of error is way too small against a good team, and you don't want to be down by 10 at halftime when you have scored only 16 points. But I thought we would be okay if we kept competing, and I was pretty sure that we would. We just had to start making baskets and finishing plays. I think it is just a great testament to how a firm belief I have in basketball, that if you are competitive and defend and rebound, you're going to be able to weather some storms where you're not very good offensively. I'm not talking about a month at a time, but periods in a game. We have to do much better offensively and execute better. Hopefully we did see a ton of growth that is going to allow us to get better. Those were two really good wins.”

On if he is satisfied with his team's half-court defense…
“If we get back at half-court on defense, it's been outstanding. The only missing part is the last part and most important part of any defensive possession: a defensive rebound and to secure possession of the ball. We haven't been doing that. We did better against West Virginia, but against Kansas State, that was a game (Kansas State) had a chance to win. They missed a lot of shots, and we just didn't do enough on the defensive board to make it a 15-point game instead of a two-point game.”

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