Tubby, on "All-Star Friday Night," when he emerged from the concourse to playfully charge the court in a boxing outfit.
“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.
This is Amelia Rayno's fifth 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.