Throwback Thursday

In honor of this weekend’s game against Georgia, I thought this week’s Throwback Thursday article should have something to do with the first thing that comes to mind when someone says Georgia Basketball: Tubby Smith.  At least for me, UGA will be forever associated with Tubby, since, as we all know, that’s the school we snatched Tubby from when it came time to look for a new Head Basketball Coach.  Although, I can’t say I completely agree with then-Athletics Director C.M. Newton’s logic when it came time to find Pitino’s replacement.  An excerpt:

“Wins are ho-hum at Kentucky. It’s the losses, blue-moon rare, that touch off red-assed recriminations, and that’s why Newton was so impressed by Smith’s comportment after the Bulldogs lost 73-70 to lightly regarded Tennessee-Chattanooga in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament. “To see the way he handled it, with his players and with the media, I thought, This guy has toughness,” says Newton, who witnessed the upset in Charlotte as a member of the NCAA basketball committee. “It sold me on his ability to do this job. Because in the minds of our people, every loss is like losing to Tennesee-Chattanooga.”

Hiring a coach because you like the way they lose?  I’m not sure how on-board I would’ve been with that.  Fortunately for Kentucky fans, a 14-year-old RV:WT was (inexplicably) never consulted, and Tubby turned out to be alright for Lexington, winning the school’s 7th National Championship in his first season on the job.

This article was written roughly three-quarters of the way through that ’97-’98 run, with writer Alexander Wolff openly questioning whether or not UK has another deep tournament run in them, considering the loss of so many key players (Anderson, Mercer, Epps), and the team’s lack of a true leader.  Of course, Kentucky would find a way to replace all the scoring they lost with Anderson and Mercer’s departure, and Wayne Turner and Jeff Shepperd would emerge as key components late in the season.

Sports Illustrated: Tubby Ball


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