Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday Links: Obsessing Over Tubby

If you haven't noticed on the right sidebar I've created a couple shirts. The one that is displayed says Tubby Ball, Est. 2007 on the front. On the back side, it says "Thank You Kentucky." I think I can speak for all Minnesota fans when I say this: We couldn't be happier you ran such a respected man and coach out of Lexington. It's your loss and our gain.

That's why it's so entertaining for me to watch some blame-Tubby-first Kentucky fans struggle to find reasons for their loss to Gardner-Webb and close call this week with Stony Brook. What are the radical portions of the UK fanbase going to say if/when North Carolina comes into Rupp Arena today and demolishes the Wildcats. Right, I already know the answer: They'll blame Tubby.

Well, at least most of the time. It seems that some UK fans have already gone to criticizing new head coach Billy Gillespie, per this Scout interview with prize freshman Patrick Patterson. Patterson, you might remember, is the 5-star diaper dandy that UK fans salivated over--literally frothing at the mouth I think--during last year's recruiting wars. They had to have Patterson. And even though it was clear Patterson was going to go to UK when Tubby was there, UK fans pointed to the hiring of Gillespie as a reason why Patterson picked UK. We'll get to recruiting in a second, but here's a telling quote from Patterson:

“People are out there saying this is the worst Kentucky basketball team in the history of Kentucky.”

Who is saying that to you?

“Fans, people around campus, when you are walking in restaurants and stuff like that. I have heard people say stuff about the Kentucky basketball team losing to Gardner-Webb and saying Kentucky hasn’t lost to a mid-major school since 2001 or something like that,” Patterson said. “I have heard people saying this is worst team or that we are not doing anything. On Facebook, they have stuff about Coach (Billy Gillispie). "

It almost makes you sad. Here's this young, talented basketball player, who is apparently bombarded with negativity everywhere he turns. In class? Criticism. On Facebook? Cheap shots at his coach.

But most of the conversations still center around Tubby. In this Lexington Herald-Leader article, Jerry Tipton sits down to talk with Dick Vitale and the ESPN announcer reiterates his criticism that a portion of the UK fanbase went too far in their desire to see Smith jettisoned.

And then the blog Hugging Harold Reynolds suggesting satirically this week that all UK travails begin and end with Tubby. Here's a taste:

You see, it's all Tubby's fault that UK is a mess right now. Through his lack of recruiting and inability to win consistently over his ten years in Lexington, Tubby almost single-handedly destroyed the once-storied legacy of Kentucky basketball.

Earlier this year, it was "Tubby's Fault!" the Cats lost to Gardner Webb. Saturday, it most likely will be "Tubby's Fault!" if the UNC Tarheels crush UK, as expected. Shockingly, new UK coach Billy Gillispie has come under relatively little scrutiny for a man in his position.

Some might view this as the fans just enjoying their honeymoon with him - but that wouldn't be right, because far too many of them are still kicking and screaming about a good man and coach who they ran out of town.

Even though that blogger was writing tongue-in-cheek, it's clear that the UK fan base is forever going to be obsessed with Tubby Smith. Adding salt to their wounds right now is the 2008 recruiting wars. A quick look at Rivals' rankings--there are others that are far more favorable to Minnesota and Tubby--and it would appear that Tubby is recruiting on par with Billy Gillespie, even though Billy Clyde has the UK tradition, facilities and Ashley Judd to fall back on. The Rivals rankings linked to above list UK as 19th in the country and Minnesota right behind at number 20. Tubby also won the first head-to-head recruiting battle when Ralph Sampson III picked Minnesota over Billy Clyde's Wildcats. Once again, Thank You Kentucky! And is there any way ya'll can become livid with Ashley Judd and send her north too?

Now, on to a few other things.

** Staying on the obsessing over Tubby/basketball recruiting topics ... the Wisconsin Rivals site Badger Blitz is beginning to worry about Tubby. Could Tubby be turning the tide in the border recruiting wars? Could Bo Ryan be on defense for once to keep his players home. That'd be a nice change, wouldn't it?

** Star Tribune men's basketball beat writer Myron Medcalf asks in this blog post whether Tubby should go to a big lineup. Medcalf suggests a lineup of Al Nolen, Lawrence McKenzie, Dan Coleman, Jonathan Williams and Spencer Tollackson. That'd be a big lineup, and would help us on the boards. And I think that Coleman is more suited to play on the perimiter, though I worry about how he'd matchup against quicker small forwards. It could be worth a try from time-to-time, but does anyone really think Jon Williams should start?

** The Pioneer Press and Star Tribune report that Tubby benched seniors Spencer Tollackson, Dan Coleman and Lawrence McKenzie during the loss to Florida State Tuesday. Tubby was not happy with their leadership, energy, intensity and lack of scoring, the reports suggest. McKenzie called the development a "reality check." And Fuller also reports that Tubby has tweaked his offense some to encourage fewer jump shots and more penetration/inside play that could help the Gophers get to the foul line--an area where they struggled against FSU.


b jones said...

The only reason someone from Minn is talking basketball, let alone bashing UK, is because you landing a UK regect. Don't forget you play hockey.
Your only link to any respectability is because Tubby the Turd Smith left UK, (yes to all the reasons that you mentioned, he did guite coaching and recruiting for nearly 8 years)so good luck to your ower middle conference ranking for the next 109 years. Hope you get a 8 or 9 seed when you actually get a bid. For us that is not acceptable.
As for Ashley, take a look, no resemblence to the hefors your raise in Iceland.

PJS said...

I'm not seeing what playing hockey has to do with anything, bjones, but thanks for taking time to comment even if you decided against proof reading.

Anonymous said...

The U landed a great coach. No one ran him anywhere.

But there are very few Peckerwoods like B Jones up North.

Hugging Harold Reynolds said...

Thanks for the link. I do have to mention though that the post was in fact tongue-in-cheek, and the author, a Louisville fan, takes exception to being called a "UK Fan Blog!"

Great site you have.

PJS said...

Thanks, HHR, for the compliment and the correction. I'll change the reference in the post to a Louisville fan blog.

Hugging Harold Reynolds said...

No problem. And no need to adjust - multiple authors contribute to HHR, and we don't have a specific team focus. It just so happened that that particular author was a U of L fan.