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Texas A&M Basketball

Acie Law IV discusses Billy Kennedy, looks back on Billy Gillispie's early years

August 25, 2016

Key quotes from Acie Law IV Interview

“I have a great deal of respect for Billy Kennedy and just hearing his story and the thing that he has been though.  You talk about getting a job and in his opening press conference, he mentioned that he hopes to retire there and shortly after getting that job, you find out that you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  You see in his first few seasons at A&M that it was pretty tough dealing with that disease and battling that.  There was losing during the first few seasons that he was here, but everyone had patience with him and stuck with him.  Fans were losing patience and I’m sure the university was losing some as well.

You see that through and last season he gets that great recruiting class and they win the SEC Championship and I think that was just a testament to his character as a man and his faith.  He has a strong family behind him and I have heard a lot of good things about his wife and how she has contributed to his health.  It is a great story and I am glad they saw it through and I think last season was an indication of a lot of great things to come for the university and the basketball program.”

“Every time I am reading something about coach or when I am talking to him, his faith always tends to come up.  That is a testament to his character.  I read this before about how AAU coaches would use his sickness against him.  I think that is absolutely disgusting, to use that tactic.  All of the adversity that he has to deal with and to still come out on top is remarkable.  To lose, and the recruiting stiff, with the university and his family standing behind him, him having the courage to face this up is amazing.  I am happy for him and our university.  We are doing well.”

“Dallas has a tremendous amount of talent, but Coach has invested in his craft.  What you are saying is that there have been signs of that.  When you are perfecting your craft, you understand the sacrifice of cutting your vacation short to come back and make moves for your program and I think that we have the right guy leading our basketball team.  I think that is what it all boils down to.  We have a guy who wants to see this thing through and wants to retire here and wants to win.  He is going to do whatever it takes to get that done, and I think we are in good shape.”

“I remember when I first came to a practice and he was talking through a microphone and it was just a different environment.  Even playing on the pro level, the high school level, and the collegiate level you are used to coaches being fiery and energetic and I had never seen a coach that was consistently so reserved.  I didn’t know if that was his demeanor or his disease or what.  I think back to that moment and that is one of the biggest moments since I have been a part of this program.  That game against Northern Iowa was a big moment and his demeanor and his influence and how he handled his team in the big moments showed faith.  When they were facing that adversity being down with the time running out, they didn’t panic.  That is what you get from him, he is just a cool demeanor guy who is even keel.  He never gets overly excited or gets down and depressed.  The most important moment is how he is in those times and how he handles it.  He showed faith.”

“Usually when you lose four senior guys, you don’t have as much production from the returning guys.  This is a unique situation because a lot of the key guys last season are returning and they were young but still vitally important in the success of the team.  With that leadership coming back, I think that they will be just fine.  Florida will be good and obviously Kentucky will be also with their recruiting classes.  I don’t see why A&M cant be right there competing for an SEC title, especially with the big fella, Tyler Davis, down low.  I think he can win the SEC Player of the Year.  I think he took great strides last season and he wasn’t the first option.  Now he is the focal point guy that they are running things through and I really expect his production to skyrocket.”

“When this question comes up, I try to not say bad things about Coach Watkins, because he was the Coach who recruited me.  A&M was one of the first schools that took notice to my talents and he just lost the team.  My freshman year, looking through the seniors and upperclassmen for leadership, they just didn’t believe in him.   They didn’t trust him and they used to talk about him in the locker room and things of that sort.  His son, Marcus, used to always be defending him in a sense.  Those were uncomfortable situations coming in as a freshman, and then when we went 0-17 and he ended up losing his job.  When Coach Gillispie came it was a total shock.  The first thing he said was that this wasn’t going to be what we were used to.  It was going to be different.  He got guys out of there that didn’t fit his mold and what he wanted to do at A&M.

We worked hard.  The practices my freshman year sometimes we would come in and just have shooting games.  As a coach you try to make the best atmosphere for the team.  I knew a change was coming with Coach Watkins, but I never knew anything about firing.  When we were going 0-8 and 0-9, we knew something wasn’t right.  It was shocking to me when we were so bad because we had such a good team.  When we were in open gym playing amogst each other, I would look around and think about all of the talent that we had.  We just couldn’t put it together and all of that falls on the coach.”

“I don’t remember if he said anything to us before he left.  That is one of the things that you try to forget.  I remember we lost all of our games and it is one thing that I don’t give a lot of thought to.  I don’t have a lot of memories of it.  I just remember coming in with Coach Gillispie and for me that transition when we put in all of that work.  He changed the culture.  We started winning games and I kind of point to that when people bring up that we went 0-17, I always remind them that we went to the NIT the next year.  That is what I try to start with.”

“Everyday I almost quit.  Hundreds of times.  It was so shocking to me.  Coach G came and sat down with me and my parents during the summer that he got the job.  He talked about how he believed in me and he also told me that he was going to bring another guard in to compete for the spot.  He said he knew that I was a great player and once we got into spring and summer workouts he was really hard on me and pushed me and kicked me out of practice.  Being 18-19 years old I didn’t know what was going on so I was just shocked. My mom and dad would come down and told me that I wasn’t going to start something and not finish it.  Coach G told my parents that he thought I could play and they knew he could bring out the best in me.  My parents were a big influence in why I didn’t leave but the ultimate decision was mine.”

“We just started winning and that was the thing we always come back to.  Going from an experience of losing all of those games freshman year and even though our schedule was easier, the feeling of winning games was just a confidence builder.  As long as we were winning I was going to do anything it took to keep that feeling going.  My mindset after that was that we were going to win.  Coach just wanted me to be there best person that I could be.  It was a matter of me accepting the criticism and using it to get better and be the best player for him and for our team.  It was just a matter or changing my focus.”

Discussion from...

Acie Law IV discusses Billy Kennedy, looks back on Gillispie's early years

6,713 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 5 yr ago by QCAg93
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Great Interview. I always thought BK would get it done. He's a players coach and I admire his integrity, faith and steady hand. A lot of these young men don't have a great father figure. Acie is a straight shooter and believes in Coach as well.
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that turnaround was the absolute most fun, inspiring. UNBELIEVABLE basketball experience in my life. i thank Acie and his parents, our coaches, and all thise great teammates who busted their &$/! to push that group to the top of the college basketball world.

good luck and good fortune and blessings to Mr.Law, and Gig 'Em!!!!
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Someday when I create my ultimate man cave I want a nice picture of the "The Shot" on my wall. Great memories of Aggie basketball for sure. I wasn't a student at the time, but I definitely followed the team when Billie G. was there.
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