Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tubby Smith resigns at UK

A sad day in the Commonwealth of Kentucky: Tubby Smith was run out of this state by the naysayer fans of the program.
Tubby Smith has resigned as basketball coach at the University of Kentucky and will accept the same position at the University of Minnesota, according to sources close to Smith and to the university.

Smith, whose record is 263-83 in 10 seasons at UK, will take over a program that played most of this season with an interim coach, Jim Molinari, at the helm. The Gophers’ head coach, Dan Monson, resigned last November at the start of the season.

Smith reportedly told the UK players today that his contract in Minnesota is $2.5 million a year.

Smith had been under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks after back-to-back second-round losses in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats lost seven of their last 11 games and lost a combined 25 games the past two seasons – the most ever in a two-year window at UK that was not affected by NCAA probation.

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart could not be reached for comment.
So now, I ask the question: Which of these 4 would coach the program: Pat Riley, Billy Donovan, John Pelphrey, or Travis Ford? The only coaches I would trust are those that have been affiliated with the University of Kentucky in the past. As such, that includes Rick Pitino.

UPDATED at 7:17 PM:
By now, you've probably heard the news that Tubby Smith has moved on to Minnesota.

As a University of Kentucky fan, I am saddened by the news of Coach Smith's depature but I can't say that I am not surprised. Some of the boosters/donors have been on his back the past few years, especially the last two. While it was said that a decision would be made after meeting with Mitch Barnhardt, no decision had been made before Tubby decided to submit his resignation and move to coach the Minnesota Gators.

We've lost out on Patrick Patterson coming next season and you can see video of his reaction here.

Here's what ESPN reported with regards to the next head coach:
According to sources, Marquette coach Tom Crean, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Memphis coach John Calipari, Gonzaga's Mark Few, Notre Dame's Mike Brey, Texas' Rick Barnes, Texas A & M's Billy Gillispie and Villanova's Jay Wright are expected to be candidates for what is one of the few premier jobs in men's college basketball.
Billy Donovan and Rick Pitino, in my opinion, will likely be asked, as well as Pat Riley. I can warm up to the idea of Jay Wright coaching the Kentucky Wildcats, mainly because he replied to my email for an autographed photo request.

CBS Sportsline's Gary Parrish reported the following earlier:
Meanwhile, a slew of other coaches will have people working for them in the next 48 hours, trying to figure who is and who is not a legitimate candidate. Among the names certain to surface are Marquette's Tom Crean, Ohio State's Thad Matta, Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie, Memphis' John Calipari, Villanova's Jay Wright, Texas' Rick Barnes, Gonzaga's Mark Few and Michigan State's Tom Izzo. Also, don't be surprised if the interest of Louisville's Rick Pitino is gauged. He preceded Smith at Kentucky before leaving for the NBA and is held in high regard by most UK fans.
On TV, Seth Davis said that he only called Mitch 30 minutes ago. Seth said that Tom Crean and Travis Ford will be on the short list.

There's a chance that UK could return to it's old school roots of pressing and running the perimeter game.

I guess I might as well come clean with my short list in order: Pat Riley, Billy Donovan, John Pelphrey, Travis Ford, Jay Wright, Tom Izzo

As a Kentucky fan, I'd prefer someone that came through the system or worked for the system. Pat Riley is familiar with the Rupp style of play (note that Rupp was a player under Phog Allen). The next three were all players under Pitino while at Providence or Kentucky. Jay Wright, the Villanova coach, rebuilt to Hoftsra program from 1994-2001 before moving to Villanova. At Villanova, he led them to 3 NIT's and 3 NCAA appearances. Izzo is a coach at Michigan State and I doubt that he would leave but he's taken MSU to at least 4 final fours.

But among UK outsiders, as I like to call them, Jay Wright seems like a preferable choice.

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