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Can Tubby Smith save Texas Tech?

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I couldn’t get anyone to say anything interesting about Tubby Smith. I thought this might hinder my efforts to write a feature about his first season at Texas Tech, until I realized something important..

Tubby Smith isn’t in the business of being interesting.

That’s part of what made him an ill fit at Kentucky, where the slowed-down style dubbed “Tubbyball” helped him win the 1998 national title that is still his calling card in coaching circles. It also got him on the bad side of Big Blue Nation, who howled with frustration watching prize recruit Rajon Rondo walking the ball up the court between 2005-2006. A couple of 12+ loss seasons put the writing on the wall, so Smith jumped to Minnesota before he could be pushed out.

Billy Gillispie followed Smith at Kentucky and preceded him at his current posting at Texas Tech. Gillispie’s antics in Lexington and Lubbock served very well to show fans that they could do worse than Orlando Smith… a lot worse.

Which begs the question: outside of Gillispiean context, is Tubby Smith a good coach? Is he what Texas Tech needs to survive the shark-infested Big 12?

I’m going to say yes, and I’m going to tell you why.

First of all, let’s look at the culture of Texas Tech over the past few years. The school has made national waves by hiring brilliant mavericks – Bobby Knight, Billy Gillispie and former football coach Mike Leach – and that’s been good and bad. Talented athletes have made their way to Lubbock and the school is a known quantity to recruits and fans. On the flipside, altercations between high-strung coaches and the players under their charge have added a powerful negative stigma to the headlines.

You’ve heard the saying “There’s no such thing as bad press,” but we might have to re-evaluate that statement from time to time. Tech’s reputation was damaged by those reports, which has affected the school’s ability to attract top talent of the coaching and athletic variety ever since.

From that vantage point, Tubby Smith looks like the safe choice. He wins, and he doesn’t cause controversy. He attracts positive attention. I mean, here I am writing about a program I tabbed to finish dead last in the Big 12 this season. That’s the Tubby effect.

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Tubby Smith will bring joy back to the Texas Tech sidelines. (Getty)

And Tubby Smith wins games. His career mark of 511 wins to 226 losses (a .693 winning percentage) is somewhat distorted by that single national title, representing a career achievement that somehow detracts from every subsequent season in which he fails to approach the same lofty heights. He won at Tulsa, he won at Georgia and he won at Minnesota. He’ll win at Texas Tech, though not right away by any stretch of the imagination.

In fact, I don’t expect Tubby Smith to work miracles in Lubbock. I’ll be impressed if he gets the Red Raiders to play better than .500 ball in the rugged Big 12 by the 2016 season. But he’ll bring in good players, he’ll win a few games, and he’ll lend an invincible aura of even-handed, avuncular fairness to the proceedings. He’ll rehabilitate the Texas Tech name and prepare it to take the next step under an up-and-coming younger man; perhaps current Tech assistant coach Pooh Williamson, who played under Smith at Tulsa. Maybe someone else.

For now, however, Smith is the Texas Tech program’s physical therapist: He’ll supervise those first slow steps toward recovery, and make sure his team doesn’t face-plant. Soon, he’ll have the program walking and even running.

Tubby Smith represents a positive view of the near future in Lubbock. He can, and likely will, have the Red Raiders back in the Big Dance some day, and that’s a pretty good carrot for a program that hasn’t been there since 2007.

If he wears a suit and smiles like your granddad and nobody says anything interesting about him along the way, is that really such a bad thing?

PHOTO: Drake wears jersey of Zion Williamson, 2018 recruit

Drake
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Drake, who is famous for jumping on bandwagons and Canada’s most well-known Kentucky basketball fan, was spotted in an Instagram post wearing the jersey of Zion Williamson, one of the best players in the Class of 2018:

@mikewillmadeit @troubledte6

A photo posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on

This Williamson kid is good, too.

Well, he’s great for the mixtapes.

Because he does stuff like this:

2017 McDonald’s All-Americans announced

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Michael Porter, Jr. #1 of KD Mokan Elite dribbles. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Rosters for the 2017 McDonald’s All-American game were announced on Sunday night as the game is headlined by Kentucky (four) having the most committed prospects in the game for the second consecutive season. Duke and UCLA also have two All-Americans each while seven players remain uncommitted.

Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Miami, Michigan State, Oregon, USC, Washington and Western Kentucky all have one McDonald’s All-American each.

The 40th McDonald’s All-American game is scheduled for March 29 at the United Center in Chicago.

Here are the rosters for the East and West:

EAST

Mohamed Bamba, 6-foot-11, Westtown School (West Chester, PA) — undecided
Wendell Carter, 6-foot-9, Pace Academy (Atlanta, GA) — committed to Duke
Trevon Duval, 6-foot-3, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL) — undecided
Quade Green, 6-foot-1, Neumann Goretti High School (Philadelphia, PA) — committed to Kentucky
Kevin Knox, 6-foot-8, Tampa Catholic High School (Tampa, FL) — undecided
Nick Richards, 6-foot-11, The Patrick School (Hillside, NJ) — committed to Kentucky
Mitchell Robinson, 6-foot-11, Chalmette High School (Chalmette, LA) — committed to Western Kentucky
Collin Sexton, 6-foot-3, Pebblebrook High School (Mableton, GA) — committed to Alabama
Lonnie Walker, 6-foot-4, Reading High School (Reading, PA) — committed to Miami
P.J. Washington, 6-foot-8, Findlay Prep (Henderson, NV) — committed to Kentucky
Kris Wilkes, 6-foot-7, North Central High School (Indianapolis, IN) — committed to UCLA
Jarred Vanderbilt, 6-foot-8, Victory Prep Academy (Houston, TX) — committed to Kentucky

WEST

DeAndre Ayton, 7-foot-0, Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, AZ) — committed to Arizona
Brian Bowen, 6-foot-7, La Lumiere School (LaPorte, IN) — undecided
Troy Brown Jr., 6-foot-7, Centennial High School (Las Vegas, NV) — committed to Oregon
Jaylen Hands, 6-foot-3, Foothills Christian High School (El Cajon, CA) — committed to UCLA
Jaren Jackson, 6-foot-11, La Lumiere School (LaPorte, IN) — committed to Michigan State
Brandon McCoy, 6-foot-11, Cathedral Catholic High School (San Diego, CA) — undecided
Charles O’Bannon Jr., 6-foot-6, Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, NV) — committed to USC
Michael Porter Jr., 6-foot-10, Nathan Hale High School (Seattle, WA) — committed to Washington
Billy Preston, 6-foot-10, Oak Hill Academy (Mount of Wilson, VA) — committed to Kansas
Gary Trent Jr., 6-foot-5, Prolific Prep (Napa, CA) — committed to Duke
M.J. Walker, 6-foot-5, Jonesboro High School (Jonesboro, GA) — undecided
Trae Young, 6-foot-2, Norman North High School (Norman, OK) — undecided

Conference breakdown of McDonald’s All-Americans

Pac-12: 6
SEC: 5
ACC: 3
Big 12: 1
Big Ten: 1
Conference USA: 1
Undecided: 7

VIDEO: Tom Crean loses his mind at garbage time alley-oop

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Indiana landed a 76-57 win over Rutgers on Sunday, a win that the Hoosiers badly needed; well, maybe the better way to phrase it is that Indiana couldn’t afford to lose this game.

Whatever the case is, the bottom-line is this: Indiana got a win in impressive enough fashion that they could clear the bench at the end of the game.

That resulted in Devonte Green attempting to throw an alley-oop to Freddie McSwain at the buzzer.

While up 19.

And that, in turn, cause Tom Crean to lose his mind:

WATCH LIVE: Atlantic 10 basketball doubleheader Sunday on NBCSN

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: A detailed view of a Spalding basketball during a quarterfinal game between the Davidson Wildcats and La Salle Explorers in the 2015 Men's Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 13, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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The Atlantic 10 invades NBCSN and the NBC Sports app on Sunday with two games that will air as part of a doubleheader.

It starts with UMass at Rhode Island at 2:30 p.m. and concludes with George Washington heading to La Salle at 4:30 p.m.

CLICK HERE to watch the Atlantic 10 on NBCSN

No. 13 Oregon routs Oregon State 85-43

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 11: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks shoots the ball over Ar'Mond Davis #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half of the game at Matthew Knight Arena on December 11, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Payton Pritchard and No. 13 Oregon made the 40-mile bus ride a wasted trip for Oregon State in the latest leg of college basketball’s most-played rivalry.

As it turned out, the 347th Civil War wasn’t much more than a neighborhood skirmish.

Pritchard had 17 points and Oregon scored the game’s first 21 points in an 85-43 victory over Oregon State on Saturday night.

“Defense,” Pritchard said of the fast start. “When we start off going hard on defense, locking up, that’s going to happen for us.”

Dylan Ennis added 16 points to help the Ducks (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) win their 14th consecutive game – their longest such streak in 70 years – and 36th in a row at home. Dillon Brooks and Casey Benson each had 11 points.

Drew Eubanks had 19 points to lead the Beavers (4-14, 0-5), and Stephen Thompson Jr. added 10 points. They have lost 10 of their last 11 games.

“I think we were nervous,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “They came out and got physical with us and we had a couple of guys that didn’t know how to respond to their physicality.”

So dominant was Oregon from the opening tip that Oregon State needed more than nine minutes to make a field goal and had four of its first nine attempts blocked. The Beavers didn’t have more points than turnovers until Eubanks hit two free throws to cut the Ducks’ lead to 31-11 after 14 minutes.

“Our defensive intensity was really good to start the game,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “I liked our activity the whole first half. Guys really flew around pretty good.”

Oregon State shot 4 of 24 (16.7 percent) in the first half. Eight of those 20 misses were blocked.

After leading 41-13 at the half, Oregon started the second on a 16-5 run to go up by 37 points. The Ducks’ largest lead was 43 in the final minute.

Oregon had assists on its first eight field goals and finished with 23 assists while shooting 27 of 52 (51.9 percent) overall and 11 of 23 (47.8 percent) from 3-point range.

“I don’t think we made a 3 that wasn’t off an assist tonight,” Altman said. “When our ball movement was good, we scored baskets.”

Jordan Bell had four of Oregon’s 12 blocks, one off the school record, and Chris Boucher had three. Oregon now has 137 blocks on the season to lead the nation.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon State is now 2-10 since losing leading scorer Tres Tinkle, who averaged 20.2 points through the first six games, to a broken right wrist in late November. His status remains indefinite.

Oregon is one victory away from matching the school record for consecutive wins (15), which dates back to 1913. The Ducks have won 14 straight for the sixth time in their history but only the second time since World War II.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Oregon, after climbing eight spots in the past two weeks, may improve its position with at least two teams ranked above it having lost.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Oregon’s 42-point margin was its largest in 161 Civil War victories. Oregon State has 187 wins in the series, including one by 43 points.

HE SAID IT

Altman said Boucher, who leads the Ducks in scoring at 13.7 points, told him before the game that he was fine continuing to play off the bench. Boucher hasn’t started since missing two games with a sprained ankle in mid-December. “For a player to say, `Use me however you’ve got to use me to win the game,’ that’s unselfish and that creates chemistry,” Altman said.

WAY TO GO, CHARLIE

The biggest cheer from what remained of the announced sellout crowd of 12,364 came when senior walk-on Charlie Noebel hit a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left for his first points of the season and his second field goal in 21 games spanning three seasons.

UP NEXT

Oregon State will try to break its five-game losing streak when it hosts Stanford on Thursday night.

Oregon stays home to face California on Thursday night and Stanford on Saturday.