Ok – so this blog is not going to expose Tubby Smith in any way shape or form. I just remember when Royce White promoted his YouTube video with that tagline, it got a whole lot of hits…I know, it’s shameful ;) In case you missed this reference, he’s a quick timeline synopsis: boards.gopherhole.com/boards/showthread.php
Money2 commented this on my 1st blog:
“One thing I didn't notice was any discussion about Tubby Smith; Good, bad or indifferent. I think Tubby is an excellent coach and I think this year will show it. I think this team will be in the top 5 or 6 in the Big Ten. And with a good year like that Tubby will have an excellent class in 2011, which will put them in the top 3. Within the next 3 years we should be back in the quarter finals and maybe win it all.”
And that’s a great point. I didn’t mention Tubby in my 1st blog, simply because it was giving the history of why I became a Gopher fan, and Tubby came along way too recently to have been part of that. This is a great topic though, because it’s something I get asked very often – what do you think about Tubby Smith? I think most Gopher fans fit into a three groups:
80% of people absolutely worship Tubby, he can do no wrong, he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread
5% of people hate him. He’d pretty much have to find a cure for Cancer for these fans to like him, some just enjoy to find faults.
15% of people really like Tubby, are happy to have him, but can still see areas of improvement…and this is the bucket that I fit in.
I’m going to be completely honest here, when he was first hired in 2007, my 1st reaction wasn’t the excitement that 99% of Gold Country felt. I was actually hoping for a young, up and coming coach, that would build a program at Minnesota like Coach K did at Duke…well, either that, or Flip Saunders (who was my realistic dream coach). No one had predicted this hire, even though it made complete sense. In his past 2 years at Kentucky, I remember picking Kentucky to lose early in my March Madness brackets, and they did, 2nd round. When I looked back beyond those last two years at Kentucky…that’s where you see the future Hall of Fame Coach.
What I like about Tubby Smith:
His track record - Five Sweet 16 appearances, three Elite 8’s, and that National Championship his 1st year at Kentucky. That is beyond impressive.
Discipline – Coach Smith doesn’t tolerate a player being bigger than the team, and will not turn the other cheek when there is in appropriate behavior. The Texas A&M game that in the Anaheim tournament could have kept us out of the NCAA tournament, but he still suspended both Lawrence Westbrook and Al Nolen for ½ of the game.
Winning attitude – Aside from a very few Gopher fans that counted us out after the losing to Michigan in February, most people thought we were NIT bound. You don’t get to be Tubby Smith unless you never give up….which means the very last game of the Big 10 Tournament. For the Gophers, that game was on Sunday, after we took down Penn State and had huge upsets over #11 Michigan State and #6 Purdue, before finally losing in the championship game to a Ohio State.
He does not blame circumstances – when you look at last year, it was almost as drama filled as this Vikings season. He started out the year without two of the most highly anticipated recruits, Trevor Mbakwe and Royce White. Following that, he suspended Devron Bostick for violating team rules, then you had the A&M game where Westbrook and Nolen were out, and to top it all off, Al Nolen was out for the entire Big 10 season because he was academically ineligible.
Coach Smith is not shady – I know this seems like it should be a given, but in Division One sports, it is not. I have never heard him make false promises to recruits, commit any serious violations, or do thing the wrong way.
Areas of improvement:
When you get a future hall of famer as your Head Coach, you have high expectations. And I’ll be honest here, by this season, I had expected to go further than the 1st round in the NCAA tournament. 3 years ago, I thought we’d be making a decent run by now, and have some pretty phenomenal recruiting classes. I did not expect us to be a bubble team, with really only one highly ranked recruiting class. I would certainly like to see us pull in some top 20 recruiting classes, as well as making it to at least the 2nd round in The Dance, if not further (and I would love to see how it feels to actually just be excited about our seed on Selection Sunday, rather than praying we get in). I know I am not a college basketball coach, but some of his substitution patterns, and the offensive plays he calls also have upset at times.
To sum it all up, I did think we’d be a little further along right now, as I’m sure Coach Smith did. But he is a winner, and will continue to be one. I believe he will win big here, and we are very fortunate to have him as our head coach. He doesn’t get a free pass from me, but he has my support 100%.
*Note - I love reading all of your comments and thought on my blogs. However, the comments on grammar are really not necessary. I get it - I am horrible at spelling and grammar. I am not a professional writer, nor do I have editors. I am lucky enough to have friends that proofread for me, but they also, are not professionals. So if you're looking for a perfectly written piece, please note this is a casual blog, to share my thoughts and spark discussion. I'll save the perfectly written pieces for the pros!