Gophers coach Tubby Smith might have a lot of contacts around the Washington, D.C., area, but that doesn’t mean he had any early clues about Maryland joining the Big Ten.
“I’m really excited about it,” he said. “I was as surprised as anyone – boy, they kept that one under wraps for a while.”
Maryland made official the news that it would join the Big Ten in 2014 on Monday, the latest shift in a trend of ever-changing conferences. Some critics say the constant realignment corrupts parity and buries old rivalries.
But Smith, who hails from Scotland, Md., had a positive reaction to this move – which would boost the Big Ten, help expand recruiting and provide a personal benefit of getting back home more often, he said.
“It’s a good addition to the Big Ten – if we’re going to expand, why not expand in that market,” he said. “Talk about the greatest city in the world in the DC and Baltimore area.”
The exposure should help with luring recruits in an area he calls “very fertile.”
At the same time, Smith has family around the area, including his brother and his granddaughter in the Baltimore region.
“It helps me too, if I can last long enough,” he said, jokingly. “If I can hang in here long enough – I’d like getting back there.”
- Rutgers is expected to announce Tuesday that it will also join the Big Ten in 2014, growing the conference to a total of 14 teams.
- Tubby Smith reiterated that the Gophers plan to “tweak” their offense heading into the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. Essentially, he wants to eliminate his post players handling the ball so often, which he believes has been a big contributor to turnovers.
- The Gophers are expected to play the same starting lineup they’ve played all season against Duke in the opening round of the tournament (Andre Hollins, Joe Coleman, Austin Hollins, Rodney Williams and Elliott Eliason). Although Smith started that group on Sunday, Eliason finished with just 11 minutes, while Trevor Mbakwe played 27 in relief.