Billy Gillispe was introduced as the 14th men's basketball head coach in program history on March 20.
Oct. 14, 2011
by Britton Drown
Billy Gillispie stood tall Wednesday afternoon outside the Student Union building. No script in hand, and no notes. He didn't need them. Podium in front of him, he took to the microphone and spoke to the crowd of Texas Tech students gathered below for the 2011 Homecoming `kickoff' event.
Yes, it was still the third week in October and still well in the heat of football season, but he was here to make it known, this basketball program is back.
Shortly hereafter, his resurrection project would begin.
"I'm ready to get started," Gillispie said shortly after his address.
This weekend, he will finally get that opportunity.
The men's basketball team officially begins practice this weekend, and fans can get a first-hand look at Gillispie's 2011-12 squad on Saturday when the Red Raiders hold an open practice at 2:30 p.m. inside the United Spirit Arena.
Hosting an open practice is something Gillispie is particularly excited about.
"I'd love to see the United Spirit Arena with people in there on Saturday," he said.
Now, the Graford, Texas native has returned to the state where he has spent all but two years of his coaching career and is ready to make his mark in Lubbock.
"The first year, you are trying to learn how everyone does everything here and it's been great," Gillispie said. "The reception has been fantastic and we are trying to build the program back to where it can be, and we think we can do fantastic things here. Everybody has been great in just trying to help us. I know our players are excited, I'm excited."
While at Texas A&M, Gillispie constructed perhaps one of the most impressive turnarounds in college basketball history. He took an Aggie program that finished a woeful 0-16 in Big 12 play a season before and led them to the NIT Tournament Quarterfinals during his first season and earned the programs first NCAA berth in 19 years the following year.
The Aggies made a trip to the Sweet 16 in his third and final season in College Station.
"The best way to build a great program is to have great players," Gillispie said. "And we have some really good players."
The men's basketball program will feature 10 newcomers this season.
"There will be some unfamiliarity as far as with the students and with our fan base with the players, so that is another reason to come out and get to know them as soon as possible," Gillispie said.
Despite the significant number of new faces in the program, including Gillispie himself, there is something to be excited about with the philosophy that he brings into the program.
After all, it's a proven one.
"You get your players to work, you get your coaches to work you enlist your students and you enlist your community people to work as well because everyone has a responsibility," Gillispie said. "Before you know it you have something special."
The men's basketball season tips off on Nov. 3 when the Red Raiders host Southwestern Oklahoma in an exhibition at the United Spirit Arena.