“Oh yeah, I’m motivated as hell.”
That’s Gophers coach Tubby Smith’s attitude heading into his first season after overcoming an unexpected cancer scare earlier this year.
“I’m inspired and grateful,” he said last week at Media Day. “I want to do it because I get another chance. You don’t get that many opportunities, and if that’s the worst thing that is going to happen to me in my career, and sometimes that can be a pretty good thing.
In May, Tubby announced that a month earlier he had a tumor in his prostate removed after his doctors discovered the cancer the previous spring. Now that Tubby’s cancer-free and looking ahead to a fresh season, those who have spent a lot of time with him say he looks more energized than in recent memory.
Last week, Tubby looked inspired as he talked about the scare – which seems to have bothered him more than he initially let on – and the opportunity to coach another season.
“It’s like, 'You know what Tubby? You’ve had it pretty good for a long time. And maybe you need to take heed and show some more appreciation.'"
"And show more – I don’t know. Show more passion, maybe, to get the job done. Not that it was lacking, but maybe it was a wakeup call, because sometimes you can get caught in a rut. You’re in the business for 30 – this is my 39th year – all the sudden you go, ‘I better energized.’ Because you can get the wind knocked out of you. It’s like taking a blow when you hear the word cancer. So you start feeling a little bit down, you feel sorry for yourself. So you’ve got to overcome that.”
The latest tests have come back clean. According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer survivors typically go back for check-ups every 3 to 4 months during the first 2-3 years and twice a year after that.
More from Star Tribune
More From Gold in the Barn
Gophers struggle mightily in the frontcourt in Monday's ACC/Big Ten Challenge loss at Florida State.
Gophers starting center Reggie Lynch returns to the lineup Monday after missing the last game with an ankle injury
Gophers have five newcomers who will play their first game ever away from Williams Arena on Monday at Florida State
Gophers coach Richard Pitino said Reggie Lynch is still not cleared for contact after ankle injury
The Gophers shoot a season-low 38 percent from the field Friday night, but they still defeated Southern Illinois.