Tubby Smith seems to be making it rain since his arrival in Lubbock as the new head coach of the Texas Tech men’s basketball team.
After a mostly dry, warm spring and early summer, it has rained nine times alone in the month of June.
“There’s been more rain than they’ve had the past three years,” Smith said. “It was needed. That’s been a real blessing.”
Just like rain is to the dry, cracked ground, Tech hopes Smith can be to a Red Raider basketball team coming off two straight losing seasons.
“This team was pretty close last year to being a good team and having a good year,” Smith said at a reception Thursday held in his honor. “Unfortunately, when you’ve had four different coaches in four years, the instability is that the players are learning three or four different systems, so it takes a while for them.”
Helping the players adjust to a new coach’s philosophy are the three assistant coaches recently hired by Smith.
When asked what he considered when hiring, Smith mentioned that the candidate had to do a good job wherever he was.
One way of knowing if the candidate’s previous track record was acceptable is to work with them at previous jobs.
“Alvin ‘Pooh’ Williamson, who I hired first, was the assistant coach at TCU,” Smith said. “He played for me at Tulsa, my first head coaching job. Then Joe Esposito was my basketball operations guy at Minnesota, so he came on board. Pooh Williamson had coached at TCU so he knew the state and that was important and he also worked at SMU and Texas A&M. Joe Esposito coached at Angelo and lived in San Angelo for about eight years and did a good job there. He had been on my staff at Minnesota for six years.
“Vince Taylor, who had been with me for six years at Lexington, Kentucky, originally played at Duke and then played overseas as a professional player. We’ve been very pleased by who we’ve got on board.”
With his staff nearing completion, Smith is focused on giving his players a winning mentality.
“We try to instill doing things, being on time, making sure we hold them accountable and being responsible,” Smith said. “By that I mean, as I said before, make sure they’re taking care of their academics, doing the grades their supposed to do and the conditioning program and putting in the time that’s necessary in order to develop and be competitive. I’ve been proud, very pleased with how they’ve conducted themselves.”
Bringing back 10 of 12 players from the previous season was a victory in itself for Smith.
A bonus is the productivity and leadership his seniors have shown both on and off the hardwood.
“Our seniors have shown a lot of leadership,” Smith said. “Guys like Jaye Crockett and Jamal Williams, Dalen Robinson and Kader Tapsoba. They’ve really stepped up and done a good job as far as leadership is concerned.”
With his team settled, its near time for he and his wife, Donna, to complete their move from Minneapolis, Minn. to Lubbock.
“Any time you make a transition, you want it to be smooth,” Smith said. “So far, it has been very smooth. We’ve pretty much got our staff in place. We’ve bought a home now. We haven’t moved in yet, but we should be closing in on it by the end of the month. So things are going good.”