I am not the type to usually question the decision of coaches on playing time. Yes, like all folks who watched the Cats earlier this season, I wondered why Porter was playing over Liggins, but then as the year went on and we learned some of what was happening behind the scenes, things became a bit clearer. But generally speaking, I think the coach sees what is happening on a day-to-day basis and if you trust the coach, you trust his decisions. But even with that said, I dont understand what is happening with Kevin Galloway. From the VERY limited action he has seen this season, Galloway has seemed to be exactly what the Cats need, a long, athletic player who can get in passing lanes, take the ball to the basket and drop a dime on Patterson or Stevenson. Specifically, he has looked like Razor Ramon without the ballhandling miscues. In fact, after the Tennessee State game, it occurred to me that the vast majority of minutes in which the offense has had the best flow, Galloway has been in the game.
But it is beyond bizarre how Galloway has been used all season. Going into preseason, much of the buzz was about the likelihood that Galloway would start. But from the get go of practice, the Galloway-Gillispie relationship hasnt been prosperous. At the open practice in which all the media was invited, more than a few of us noted that Galloway ran drills in practice early with the walk-ons and Matt Pilgrim, while the rest of the team worked out at the other end of the court. During the practice, Galloway faced the brunt of Gillispie’s ire and it was easy to see the frustration on his face. Then early in the year, Galloway was a non-factor and the assumption of his transfer was universally held. But then something strange happened…..all of a sudden Gillispie, who says starting minutes are based on practice, began starting Galloway. During his stints, the Cats got off to great starts. But still for the most part, Galloway was getting Mark Coury minutes….start, play hard, come out….start the second half, play hard, come out….and never see the floor again. The pattern then continued (after a two-game hiatus in which he played very little) against Louisville.
Watching the UL game, it is clear that this team plays hard, is mentally tough and is very strong defensively when it executes the gameplan. Louisville had to shoot 55% from three point land to win the game, and they wont do that again all year….sometimes its just not your day. But it is equally as clear that for the Cats to beat a team with a lot of talent, they must have more talent, specifically on the offensive end, in order to compete. We can all wonder about who the third scorer will be, but it is likely at this point that one doesnt exist. But right now the Cats have two guys that cant get their own shot (Porter, Harris), one guy whose confidence is shot (Miller), another who is a penetrator but has no outside jumper (Liggins), another who cant match up with athletic bigs (Harrellson) and another whose consistency is still lacking (Stevenson). And through it all, Kevin Galloway still doesnt see the floor.
To be fair, on Saturday his defense against T-Will early left something to be desired. But unlike the other players, Galloway is never allowed to play through a mistake. Meeks can turn it over 6 times, Porter can make bad decisions, Harris can dribble into the third row, but Galloway makes a mental error or misses a defensive assignment and he hits the bench….often not to return. The “bench is the best teacher” mentality is all fine and dandy if you are coaching the ’96 Cats. But this team needs playmakers to hang with the elite. It needs guys who are athletic mismatches and who can hang with the other team’s best players on both ends. We have all seen the mental brain farts from DeAndre Liggins, the athletic limitations of Josh Harrellson and the confidence drained for Darius Miller. But what have we seen that is so awful from Galloway? Where has he shown that he cant or wont compete on a top level? On a team that needs one more big spark, is it not possible that Galloway may be it? I am all for playing Landon Slone from time to time and getting minutes for those who earn it. But for this team to be elite, it needs players who can be elite. Galloway may or may not be that player….but I sure would like to see more of him to decide.