This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Ex-Gophers players talk about Tubby Smith's tenure

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: April 3, 2013 - 12:06 PM

There is a coaching search going on (Maybe you’ve noticed. My empty fridge and chaotic apartment/workspace certainly have).

But with Tubby Smith officially signing a new contract at Texas Tech on Tuesday (He will reportedly be making an average of $1.85 million a year over six years) – I wanted to share some leftover thoughts from a couple of former players (Current players, obviously, are not talking while the search is going on).

Blake Hoffarber (a Gopher from 2007 to 2011), was in a similar situation to current Gophers recruits Alex Foster and Alvin Ellis when he was heading into his freshman season at the ‘U.’ Hoffarber was recruited by Dan Monson, but after the 2006-07 team started 2-5, Monson was fired.

Foster and Ellis have been mostly quiet since Smith was fired, but one site reported that Ellis was upset about the lack of contact from the ‘U’ and thinking about trying to get out of his letter of intent.

“It’s always a weird time, not knowing who your coach is going to be,” Hoffarber said. “I went into that going into college. I committed to Dan Monson and then all the sudden he got fired. It’s a little nerve-racking now knowing who your coach is going to be and it’s obviously probably be someone that didn’t recruit you.”

Even so, Hoffarber didn’t rethink his commitment, he said.

“I felt like they were going to hire someone good,” he said. “I always wanted to go to the university of Minnesota. I was just curious and kind of nervous to figure out who the coach was going to be. When I found out coach Smith was going to be the coach I was a little nervous because he was more of an up-tempo style and I was not as athletic as everybody else and most of his players, but it turned out to be a good situation for me.”

Hoffarber was close with Smith, and said he tried to call him immediately after hearing that Minnesota had fired him last week – but couldn’t leave a message because the former coach’s voicemail box was full.

“So I just texted him and wished him the best of luck and sorry to hear about that and it sucks,” he said. “Anytime anyone gets fired, you never want to see that. You’ve got to think of someone as a human first and obviously people say, well he got paid, and sure he got paid, but it’s still someone’s job and livelihood and knowing you have to move – it’s a big change for someone.”

Damian Johnson (a Gopher from 2006 to 2010) also expressed surprise at Smith being fired immediately following an NCAA tournament win, but said he had seen the writing on the wall throughout the year.

“There’d been the talk the whole year basically, after the 15-1 start, the team kind of went on a downhill spiral,” he said. “I know fans got frustrated, I mean, this was the first year where the whole team was coach Smith’s players … this was a top-10 team at one point, so the whole [180] really threw everybody off and a lot of fans got restless.”

Johnson said he and Smith had a good relationship, but that wasn’t the case with all of the players. Smith’s aggressive style didn’t sit well with everyone and the coach softened his approach over the years, he said.

“Some of the former players didn’t always see eye-to-eye with coach Smith because of the style he had when he was coaching -- he was kind of a hard-nosed, old-school kind of guy, and everybody wouldn’t agree with that,” Johnson said. “To be honest, I kind of thought he softened up on the guys, on the current teams compared to the way we had it. We used to practice at 6, 7 in the morning every day and now they have 3 o'clock practices. … From what I’ve heard from the guys that are on the team currently, he’s not like he was, he eased up a little bit.”

Even so, Johnson -- who kept in touch with a lot of current players -- said Smith wasn’t the most popular guy even last year.

“Some of the players on the team, they couldn’t handle it,” he said. “The old ways wouldn’t have worked well with them. I didn’t think it was going to get to the point where everybody was going mutiny against him but I guess he maybe lost some of the guys. … He kind of got in the guys’ heads so much that they didn’t know what to do.”

Johnson said he didn’t mind that coaching style, but that it was an adjustment after being coached by Monson before Smith was hired.

“Coach Monson was the opposite of coach Smith almost, so it’s like one second you’ve got this coach, the next second you’ve got this coach coming in and it hits you at 100 miles an hour, like a punch in the face almost,” he said.

Like some of the current players, Johnson went through a coaching search heading into his sophomore season, when Monson was fired. In that situation, the transfer bug didn’t hit the team hard because more players were hopeful for a change anyway.

“When coach Monson left and we were losing, all of the guys kind of wanted a change, so that kind tempted guys to stay – there were still guys that wanted to transfer, but they wanted to see the next coach that would come in, whether they thought it was an upgrade, a coach that you could see winning and a coach that you think you could make progress with,” Johnson said.

It could be a similar situation with the Gophers.

“I think there were more guys ready for a change than not ready,” he said. “You could just see at the end of the season more guys were just unsure of themselves and not confident. When you start getting like that on the basketball court, you kind of want to see what the new guy could bring to help grow you and help build your confidence back.”


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 0 Top 3rd Inning
St. Louis 0
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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
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Washington 1
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Rice 42
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(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
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(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
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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
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
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Kansas 24
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Michigan 10
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(3) Alabama 42
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Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
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Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
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Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
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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
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
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Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
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Ga Southern
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Old Dominion
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Virginia Tech
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Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
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Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
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Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
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(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
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(22) Ohio State
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(13) So Carolina
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Air Force
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(17) LSU
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(10) Ole Miss
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Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
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(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
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(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
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San Jose St
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Hamilton 25
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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




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