Minnesota makes it official, formally fires Tubby Smith


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Tubby Smith has been officially fired by Minnesota.

The university announced that Smith, who has been at the school since the 2007-08 season, has been relieved of his duties as head coach.

Smith issued a statement in the release on the school’s website.

“I want to thank the University of Minnesota and the people of Minnesota for giving me the opportunity to lead the Golden Gopher basketball program for six years,” said Smith. “Our staff did things the right way and will leave knowing that the program is in far better shape than when we arrived. The people of the State of Minnesota embraced Donna and me from the beginning and we will always be grateful.”

Smith had a record of 124-81 overall at Minnesota, but he was just 26-42 in Big Ten play and had his program become synonymous with February collapses. He made three NCAA tournaments and won his first tournament game this season, but lost 78-64 to No. 3 seed Florida on Sunday.

Smith came to Minnesota from Kentucky in 2007, where he won the 1998 national title. But a lack of on-court success and victories on the recruiting trail eventually did him in.

“Tubby has had a long and distinguished career and we feel it’s time for a fresh set of eyes for our student-athletes and our program in general,” Athletic Director Norwood Teague said in a statement. “We are grateful to Tubby and his entire staff for their hard work and dedication to this University, our students and the entire Minnesota community. We wish Tubby, Donna and the entire staff well.”

A previous report from Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com, first broke the news that Smith had been fired after six years as head coach.

Three notes to think about as Minnesota begins their search for a head coach at the same time that UCLA and USC will be looking:

– Norwood Teague, Minnesota’s AD, and Mike Ellis, Minnesota’s assistant AD, arrived at Minnesota from VCU. At VCU, they hired Shaka Smart. I doubt that Shaka would turn down UCLA, where he appears to be the favorite, for Minnesota, when he already shot down Illinois, but I’m sure the Teague and Ellis will make a run at him.

– Ellis runs Villa 7, which is a networking project that connects elite assistant coaches with athletic directors around the country. It’s how guys like Smart, Josh Pastner, Buzz Williams and Dave Rice, among 90 or so others, got their head coaching gigs. He’s connected.

– Minnesota might actually a better job than people realize. The state produces quite a bit of hoops talent, and it’s the only Division I program in the state. There are facilities and money and a fanbase. The only problem? There may also be a limit to how good the program can be. With the likes of Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin in the Big Ten, the Gophers will never be among the elite in their own conference, let alone in the country. Tubby Smith won 20 games in five of the six years he was a head coach and made three NCAA tournaments. Before he was hired, the Gophers had been to the tournament once since 1999 and won 20 games once since 1998.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.