Texas tech basketball

Smith has Red Raiders on upswing

2013-12-03T00:00:00Z 2013-12-03T15:14:10Z Smith has Red Raiders on upswingRobert Sutton / The Tuscaloosa News

By Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tubby Smith was fired from Minnesota last year but has found a home with a Texas Tech program that has had its share of problems in recent years.

A day after Minnesota fired him last March, Tubby Smith heard from the folks at Texas Tech. Before long, they were camping out with him in North Carolina.

Then, before Minnesota had lined up a replacement for Smith, the Red Raiders hired him.

It wasn’t difficult to see why. The Red Raiders had been wracked with instability and losing in recent seasons, going just 3-15 in Big 12 play last season while interim coach Chris Walker attempted to clean up from previous coach Billy Gillespie’s volatile one-year regime.

Smith, meanwhile, had taken four different teams to the NCAA tournament, while winning a national championship and five Southeastern Conference titles at Kentucky, though he left fans at Kentucky and Minnesota wanting more.

So he needed a new home. And, so far, with a group of veterans leading the way on the court, Smith has Texas Tech off to a 6-2 start heading into its game at No. 2 Arizona tonight. Here’s his quick take on the transition:

Were the players skeptical of another coach after what they’ve been through?

A: “Everybody was skeptical to a point when you go through three coaches in the previous three years. You have to build that trust. … I think they respect what we’ve done and they were a very close-knit group that’s helped them become united. A lot of times adversity will break some people.”

Did you think about taking the year away from coaching?

A: “I didn’t have much time to think about it, to be honest. I was offered the job the day after I was fired. It was such a jolt and a shock to my system. You pride yourself on doing things the right way, and we did that in Minnesota. We didn’t come close or win the Big Ten, but we played in the championship of the (2010) Big Ten Tournament for the first time in the history of the school.

What was the decision-making process like?

A: “I took 5-6 days to weigh it and I came to see the place. It was impressive that they were willing to come to North Carolina and then fly me out here. I wasn’t sure I was going to take any job. … But I talked to a number of people, especially (former Kentucky AD) C.M. Newton, who’s been a mentor of mine for years, and I saw the place. I knew the challenges that were here, but I also understand we have been able to help programs before.”

Were you bitter or angry after Minnesota fired you?

A: “Bitter, angry, nobody wants to be fired. But that was the administration’s decision, and they have some great people at Minnesota. Unfortunately, they wanted to go in a different direction. ... But that’s life. You accept it and move on.

“We’ve tried to teach our players that you’re going to have ups and downs, highs and lows, and you’ve an gotta have some balance in your life. Can’t get too excited, not too depressed. At my age (62), I recognize, I’m secure in who I am.”

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Latest Video

More videos

Big Jim: Day of the Dead traditions, part 2

Folklorist Jim Griffith dives deeper in part two about this Mexican holiday."Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (incom…

Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily

Follow Star Sports reporters


Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

The latest box score


Football schedule

Teams Date Time Links
Stanford at
Oregon
11/1 4:30 pm
Arizona at
UCLA
11/1 7:30 pm
Cal at
Oregon State
11/1 7:30 pm
Utah at
ASU
11/1 8:00 pm
Notre Dame at
ASU
11/8 1:30 pm
Washington State at
Oregon State
11/8 2:00 pm
UCLA at
Washington
11/8 5:00 pm
Colorado at
Arizona
11/8 6:00 pm
Oregon at
Utah
11/8 8:00 pm
Cal at
USC
11/13 7:00 pm