The Famuan correspondent Ernest Garrett recently sat down with the men’s basketball second-year head coach Mike Gillespie to talk about the upcoming season.
Famuan: What’s your background?
Gillespie: I’m from Joliet, Ill. I’ve played and coached organized basketball for around 45 years. I was all state (as a high school player) in Illinois and played college basketball at North Carolina State and DePaul University. I’ve been coaching for 28 years.
Famuan: What made you get into coaching?
Gillespie: My father coached baseball, football and basketball. He’s 76 years old and still coaching today. I saw the impact he could make on people’s lives as their coach, so I knew when I was in high school that I wanted to coach basketball.
Famuan: We’ve heard great things about the recruiting class this year. Can you tell us about them?
Gillespie: We have Terrence Woods, a transfer from the University of Tennessee. Terrence may be the best shooter I’ve ever coached. Mike Ayodele will provide a lot of scoring for us and he’s also an excellent rebounder. Moses White, a point guard, is an outstanding basketball player from Tallahassee. We’re counting on Moses to have a great year. O.J. Sumter we’re hoping can start for us. Jonathan Kelly averaged 29 points per game in high school. We’re certainly going to count on Jonathan to provide playing time and scoring for us. Those are five newcomers who could really, really help this time become what we think it can be.
Famuan: What’s the team’s strategy going to be?
Gillespie: We’re going to press the whole game. We’re going to play ten guys (an) shoot the three. We’re going to play a very up-tempo style of play.
Famuan: What are the team’s goals this season?
Gillespie: We want to win 20 games. We certainly want to win a conference championship. That’s something that’s never been done this year. If we win 20, if we win our league, and go undefeated at home, then by god I think we’ve got a great chance to get to the NCAA tournament. It’s been 11 years since we’ve had a winning season. That is going to end this year.
Famuan: What should people know about FAMU basketball?
Gillespie: It’s very passionate. It’s very intense. It’s very entertaining. People won’t know that, though, unless they come out and watch us play. The level of play is dramatically improved here.
We’re going to make each and every game entertaining and a social event to get more students in to the gym. If they’ll just give us a chance I think they’ll really have some fun.