After dealing with the allegations of player mistreatment that surrounded former coach Billy Gillispie and enduring a 3-15 Big 12 finish this season, it appears Texas Tech might be going in another direction.
According to the Associated Press, Texas Tech is in talks with former Minnesota coach Tubby Smith to possibly bring him on board as the school’s next head coach. Smith was fired by the Gophers earlier this month after losing in the Round of 32 of the NCAA tournament to Florida.
Smith coached at Minnesota for six seasons, included in that were five 20-win seasons and three NCAA tournament appearances. This season the Gophers notched their first NCAA tournament win since 1997. That is the same year that the school made a Final Four, before it was wiped from the record books amidst an academic scandal.
According to the report, Smith could also be a candidate at New Mexico if the Lobos do not hire interim head coach Craig Neal. New Mexico is left without a permanent coach for the time being after Steve Alford left for UCLA on Saturday.
While Smith is in talks with Texas Tech, Minnesota continues its search for a replacement to fill the vacancy created by his firing. It was reported yesterday that former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders had turned down an offer, while targets that include VCU’s Shaka Smart and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg have both signed longterm extensions with their respective schools.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.