Q&A with Tubby Smith: '‘I’m sure there's something we could have done differently'

  • Article by: MYRON P. MEDCALF , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 18, 2011 - 11:08 PM

The Gophers coach discussed the challenges he faced during the frustrating 2010-11 season.

hide

Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Last year, the Gophers men's basketball team suffered one of the worst tumbles in Division I. It lost 10 of its last 11 games and didn't earn an invitation to the NIT. Coach Tubby Smith sat down with Star Tribune beat reporter Myron P. Medcalf last week to discuss the challenges he faced in the 2010-11 campaign and other issues crucial to the program, including the injuries and departures that affected the season.

Q How often do you replay last year's finish in your mind?

A I need to stop doing that because I need to focus on the here and now and the future. There's nothing to be gained. ... You're constantly trying to evaluate what happened -- what could we have done differently? -- that type of thing. I'm sure there's something we could've done differently. And I'm sure a lot of people had a lot of answers when it was over with. Hindsight is always better, hindsight is 20/20. You can see it in a different perspective. Looking back on it, I probably should've played smaller, even though we went bigger and we did score and we won a couple of games with a big lineup. After we used it that first time against Northwestern [Jan. 26] here, then we went on the road to Purdue [Jan. 29] and we got beat there with the big lineup. We got beat by Indiana [Feb. 2]. ... I think what happened during that stretch was it was a false sense of accomplishment. We moved Rodney [Williams] to the shooting guard, we moved Blake [Hoffarber] to the point, we moved Ralph [Sampson III] to the 3, Colton [Iverson] came into the lineup at the 5, but we lost a lot of scoring, a lot of offense. We just couldn't score, couldn't score inside or outside.

Q How much blame do you accept for last year's struggles?

A It's always the coach's fault, everybody knows that. Parents know it, players know it, writers know it, everybody. It's Coach's fault. I accept that. That's who I am. But I know one thing, I wasn't out there shooting a bad .... I haven't made a basket, I haven't scored a basket since 1973 that was meaningful. So everybody I put on the court I expect them to be able to play and adapt and adjust. When that doesn't happen, I've got to look at that and say well, 'Do we have the right personnel? Are those guys capable of doing it?' And when you have injuries and things like that, defections. Our most significant injury -- obviously, Al [Nolen] was our most significant -- but the one to Mo [Walker], I thought that hurt us as much as anything because he was a guy that was really coming on. Our best passer as a big man, he was a very good free-throw shooter, and that's something that we weren't very good at in the post. We just weren't very good passers, and we weren't good free-throw shooters.

Q After four years, are you content with the progress you've made at the University of Minnesota?

A You're never content unless you're winning the last game of the year. I don't think there's a content coach in America other than [UConn's] Jim Calhoun in Division I basketball. ... Outside of that you better not be content. You won't last long in this business. So you got to improve every day and every minute. I know that we've got a lot to improve on. Obviously, we took a step back, not this year but even last year with Royce White, Trevor Mbakwe not being able to [play]. ... But I thought we had surpassed that and overcame some of that, and we had. We were 16-4. So, there's no denying that. A lot of people thought we were one of the top 20 teams in the country at that time. And we were.

Q Do you think you've endured unfair criticism this year?

A No. We were 1-10 [in our last 11 games]. It's what you expect. But I hope people understand, it's not like we had all of our people here. So I would hope that people are smart enough to understand that or at least educated enough to understand that. Then again, a lot of people aren't. ... Most of them don't come to games, most of them don't even know that we lost two players to injuries and one that left. Most people don't know that. And they don't really care, to be honest with you. But I think the real Gopher fan saw what we lacked, so they should be concerned. So criticism is going to be there. That's why you concentrate on getting better. Because there's nobody more critical than we are.

Q You called out specific players last season when things weren't going well. Do you have any regrets about taking that approach?

A Well, I think I've said what I wanted to say. I said maybe players didn't execute certain things. ... I said it all the time, I'm not usually specific about it. But I thought maybe hey, maybe they need to know. I think it worked. It worked for me. ... [Observers are] seeing it, so why not just say it. Blake [Hoffarber] has had an outstanding career here, and that's what I was pointing out. He was making, probably, the biggest transition of anybody after fours years at shooting guard. Done is done, once I do it. I was hoping it would be a motivating factor.

Q You've been the subject of numerous coaching searches and rumors, but you've decided to stay. What's stopped you from leaving the University of Minnesota?

A We think we have the right situation, right fit for me at this point and time in my life. And that's why I came here. Nothing has changed about that.

Q You've lost five guys since last February. Could you have done anything differently to prevent those departures?

A Sometimes it's a mutual agreement. Sometimes they didn't get enough playing time. You take a guy like Justin Cobbs. A guy like Paul Carter, he left for a different type reason. I would have loved for him to stay here, but hopefully what they did improved their [status]. I don't think it hurt us, our status. What hurt us was injuries this year, not the defections or the departure of people. Sometimes, it's addition by subtraction. And I thought that we were well positioned because of subtraction, being 16-4. And that's not to say the loss of Royce White, if they'd stayed, wouldn't have made us better, I'm not saying that, but we did what we were supposed to do. We continued on. As I tell players, the program is going to go on with or without you. You either accept that Coach Smith loves me, wants me here and I'm playing you ... but you want more, everybody wants more.

You take Colton [Iverson]. He played 15 minutes the year before. He played 18-19 minutes this year. It wasn't like he got less minutes. He did less with more. That's all I can say. And we did less with him doing more. I rest my case. And hopefully, they'll see that. We were pretty good with or without Devoe Joseph. And we'll be good without him again. That's life. So I appreciate that when they come in, and I tell them that when I recruit them. Hey, we want you here. We're recruiting you because we have a need for you. There's going to be ups and downs, there's going to be highs and lows. There's going to be guys that fight through it and guys that can't. That's how I look at it. That's sports. That's winning and losing. And hopefully, we're teaching them life values: when you commit to something, you stick to it. But that's not always the case.

Myron P. Medcalf • mmedcalf@startribune.com

  • QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH TUBBY SMITH

    Q&A WITH TUBBY SMITH

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati 3 Top 8th Inning
St. Louis 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 16 3rd Qtr 11:02
Carolina 3
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 3rd Prd :08
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
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 TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
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 Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close