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Tubby Smith introduced as Texas Tech's new basketball coach

Veteran coach says he expects to build program into a consistent winner

Posted: April 2, 2013 - 5:02pm  |  Updated: April 3, 2013 - 12:32am
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Texas Tech mascot Raider Red welcomes Tubby Smith to the stage before Smith was announced as the new head coach of the basketball team Tuesday at United Spirit Arena.
Texas Tech mascot Raider Red welcomes Tubby Smith to the stage before Smith was announced as the new head coach of the basketball team Tuesday at United Spirit Arena.
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Tubby Smith had no vision of stepping away from coaching following his dismissal from Minnesota last week.

He also didn’t expect to be boarding a plane to West Texas just a few days after he landed on the unemployment line.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Smith said Tuesday, April 2, while being introduced as Texas Tech’s 16th basketball coach. “(Tech officials) flew down to North Carolina and we met. In fact, we were just going to talk, and they indicated, ‘Well, we have two empty seats on the plane.’ ”

Smith, 61, and his wife, Donna, occupied those seats Thursday, March 28, and arrived in Lubbock to further discuss the position and tour facilities. A few days later he was signing a six-year contract that will pay him an average of $1.85 million per season.

“We were really sold right away,” said Smith, who had previously been the head coach at four other programs — Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky and Minnesota — over the course of 22 seasons.

In that span, his teams have made the NCAA Tournament 17 times.

That kind of track record was hard for Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt to ignore.

“Tubby Smith is one of the most respected men, not only in college basketball,” Hocutt said. “Tubby Smith is one of the most respected men in all of intercollegiate athletics, and Tubby Smith has experienced success everywhere’s that he’s been.”

Smith, who led Kentucky to a national championship in 1998, is in for a major challenge, taking over a team that has gone just 13-55 in Big 12 play since 2010 and is still reeling from the messy departure of Billy Gillispie in September.

But the veteran coach believes building the Red Raiders into a winner is possible, referencing the four NCAA Tournaments Bob Knight reached in his six full seasons at the school.

“We expect to do that, as well” Smith said. “It’s my goal to build this program into one of the top programs, not just in the Big 12, but in the country.”

“That’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be hard work, and we know the process of rebuilding a program is not easy. We’ve done it a few places, and I think that the identity and the talent that we have here, we have a good start.”

Tech’s hiring of Smith ended a 19-day search, that began when the Red Raiders lost to Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals March 14. A handful of candidates were interviewed for the position, including interim coach Chris Walker, whom Hocutt thanked before introducing Smith.

“Chris did a tremendous job in serving as our interim coach,” Hocutt said. “His leadership and his positive attitude were contagious, and it was very tremendous, and I sincerely appreciate the good work that coach Walker did this year.”

Hocutt repeatedly referenced Smith’s experience — namely winning experience — as a major factor in the school’s decision.

Smith, one of 17 children who grew up on a farm in Maryland, has won 20 or more games in 19 of his 22 seasons. Tech last reached that plateau during the 2006-07 season (21-13).

Though he this season led Minnesota to its first NCAA Tournament win since 1997, Norwood Teague, the school’s athletic director, dismissed Smith one day after a third-round loss to Florida, in part because the Gophers were unable to finish better than sixth in the Big Ten Conference during his tenure.

Smith insisted despite the way things ended at Minnesota, he has plenty left to give at this stage in his career.

“One of the things my dad taught me growing up on that farm was to do the best job you can and leave that place in better shape than you found it,” Smith said, “and we’ve done that everywhere we’ve been.”

Tech players did not meet with Smith for an extended period of time before Tuesday’s news conference, but most of them were in attendance, standing to one side of a conference room inside United Spirit Arena.

“I’m just ready to get it started,” said senior forward Jaye Crockett, who will play for his fourth coach in as many seasons. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about him, so hopefully he can turn it around real quick.”

nick.kosmider@lubbockonline.com

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Guns Up

Welcome to Lubbock Coach Smith!

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4

Why does the movie

The Gauntlet come to mind on this one?

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big step

This is a Big Step for Texas Tech.... they hired a minority to a prominent head coaching position.

4
0

It's time

to support Texas Tech and Coach Smith. Coach Smith knows what good talent looks like and knows how to coach it. Time to look forward.

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3

Recruiting

With no disrespect to Coach Smith whatsoever, this is what has transpired since the press conference occurred:

1. Keith Frazier has committed to SMU,

2. Wannah Bail has said Tech is no longer in the picture, and

3. Josh Gray has said he is leaving the team.

Maybe we would have done a heckuva a lot better if we had named Tubby the new AD and Walker the head coach instead.

Instead of trying to enHance the sports programs at Tech maybe we should try to endHance the sports programs at Tech.

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j jason jonas

If Smith wins here you gonna admit that you were wrong? This maybe very good for Tech. Time will tell. I am curious what is going on with Walker. It just kills me that these reporters in both print and electronic media know the public is concerned and curious about Walker...so why don't they report on his situation?

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Reply

With regard to your first question Mr. Scott, if Smith turns out to be a winner I will very happily and excitedly admit I was wrong. I truly hope I am wrong from the bottom of my heart (besides, all my clothes have the Double T on them and I can't afford to buy a new wardrobe).

With regard to your second question, I too was wondering why the media didn't ask anything about Walker's future. As a former journalist I can tell you any journalist worth a damn would have asked about Walker's future. But these guys are not exactly in the big leagues.

Guns Up!!!

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J Jason Jonas

I may not be informed, if not, please enlighten me. Has Wannah Bail officially stated that Tech was not an option any longer? He congratulated coach Smith via twitter earlier today.

As for Josh Gray. I do know that he has had some emotional twitter outbursts, and cryptic tweets about spending the summer in Houston, leading to SPECULATION that he wont be back. Is there more to the story than that? Has he said something more concrete.

Give Tubby a chance to sell him on staying; and maybe on Bail's recruitment.

Frazier is gone. Though maybe Tubby could get Rondo to give him a call......

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Reply

I read on the net that Bail (or his guardian) had tweeted that he wanted to go to a more established program.

My understanding is that Gray was not at last night's team meeting and has already left campus for good.

I hope Tubby does well and does it for a long time. I never bought the argument he was too old. We'll see.

<><

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Reply

As of 7 hrs ago Josh Gray tweeted that he was still going to class and was not sure where all rumors were coming from.

Not that Twitter is the touchstone of truth on the interwebz. :)

Hopefully he sticks it out. Great opportunity for him here with a potentially still great coach. Commitment to something larger than ones self is lost on many of the younger generation.

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New Hire

It takes three things to be a successful Coach at any University, you have to want to be where your at,you have to be able to coach and you have to be able to recruit. All three not just one or two. I think Coach Walker had all three. Does our new Coach , I guess only time will tell what the Tripple T era brings.

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Uncle, I disagree...

It takes one thing to be a successful Coach at any University, you have to win. That's all.

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