Jim Souhan: Uh, Kentucky, y'all were right about Tubby

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 13, 2011 - 10:25 AM

Disappointments that led to the end of the coach's UK career are surfacing with the Gophers.

hide

Gophers coach Tubby Smith has not produced the results fans had hoped he would since coming over from Kentucky.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

An open letter to the Bluegrass State:

When Tubby Smith left the University of Kentucky to replace Dan Monson at the U, we provincial Northerners sneered at you.

Sorry. I meant to say, "Y'all.''

We assumed that if a coach of Smith's stature decided to leave one of the five greatest programs in college basketball, it had to be the fault of obsessive fans who have been known to spend entire evenings second-guessing the execution of a first-half inbounds play.

We figured a pungent blend of idiocy and racism drove Smith from a university built for and around basketball greatness, a place where he won a national title and his son played point guard.

Our suspicions were not baseless. Drive through Kentucky, and you still can find the odd Confederate flag and a museum featuring a dinosaur wearing a saddle, celebrating the belief that man and Magnosaurus co-existed.

To those Kentucky fans who based their assessment of Smith on facts and trends, though, let us apologize. You were right.

Four seasons after his arrival, Smith's tenure at the University of Minnesota is officially a disappointment.

Kentucky fans complained that Smith runs no discernible offense.

That he failed to recruit outstanding talent.

That his program had lost momentum and had slid into mediocrity.

Smith won the national title in his first season at Kentucky, with Rick Pitino's players. He continued to be remarkably successful through 2004-05, when he reached the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth time in eight years.

Since then, Smith appears to have become a different coach. Since then, Smith's teams have been mediocre, and he has appeared increasingly aloof and sensitive.

At Minnesota, he is 31-35 in Big Ten games and has failed to win an NCAA tourney game. Since his last Elite Eight appearance, he is 49-49 in conference games and 2-4 in the tournament, despite having enjoyed the immense advantages provided by Kentucky.

If a coach without Smith's résumé had performed to that level over the course of eight years, he probably wouldn't get fired, but he wouldn't be treated as a conquering hero, either.

This week might have provided the low point of an impressive career. Smith not only coached poorly; he became whiny, an unseemly characteristic for a supposed leader of young men.

After his team lost to Ohio State last Sunday, Smith linked his team's weak play to Minnesota's lack of a practice facility. Smith actually told Minnesotans that it was hard for his players to walk across the street in the cold to lift weights, one of the most pathetic excuses in the history of sport.

After his team lost to a struggling Illinois team at Williams Arena on Thursday, Smith called out a handful of his players for gutless or unintelligent play. He even criticized Blake Hoffarber, who is playing out of position and with a troublesome knee, for failing to draw more fouls.

This is scapegoating at its worst. In college basketball, coach is king, and the program is his fiefdom. He is responsible for recruiting, player improvement, roster makeup, offense, defense, game management and public relations.

He reaps the rewards when he wins; he should accept blame when the program that is a manifestation of his skills and decisions implodes.

Hoffarber is playing point guard because Smith failed to recruit or keep enough other players who could handle the position. He ran off Devoe Joseph, whose presence would have guaranteed an NCAA tournament berth by now, and Justin Cobbs.

Thursday, Smith complained about lacking "men'' on his roster like last year's upperclassmen, Lawrence Westbrook and Paul Carter. Carter left the program. It is well-known on campus that Smith did not like Westbrook. Suddenly, Westbrook and Carter are role models?

Nearing the end of a remarkable career, Smith is becoming increasingly petty as his coaching skills appear to wane.

So congratulations, Kentucky. We thought Tubby viewed Minnesota as a place he could win. Turns out that when he looks at Goldy Gopher, all he sees is a 401(k).

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Gameday: Gophers at Iowa

    Sunday February 13, 2011

    Preview: The Gophers (16-8, 5-7 Big Ten) will try to end their first four-game losing streak under coach Tubby Smith...

  • Smith seeking formula that ends the struggles

    Sunday February 13, 2011

    Tubby Smith challenged his team with pointed comments following a fourth consecutive loss. Against the Hawkeyes, he will see if the motivation works.

  • GOPHERS AT IOWA

    5 p.m. today • TV: BTN (830-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 8 Bottom 8th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 3rd Prd 15:51
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close