In part two of our exclusive interview with Texas Tech basketball head coach Tubby Smith, the legendary coach talks about a moment that may have saved the 2016 Texas Tech season and shares some insight about what one of the team’s senior leaders had to say following the team’s season-ending loss in the NCAA Tournament.
WER: This season, your team surpassed almost everyone’s expectations (at least the expectations of those outside of your locker room). Was there a moment you can point to when you saw the light come on for this team and you felt you could be in for something special?
"TS: You know it’s a process and a journey. Every step has to be nurtured and has a purpose.We tell out players on the court, “Everything you do, we look at it as an unselfishness.”And that’s what sports and especially team sports are about. It’s about being unselfish so I saw that in guys like (senior forward) Toddrick Gotcher as a fifth-year senior who’s working on his second masters (degree) and he’s selected as a student athlete to represent Texas Tech athletics, not just basketball.He made a comment at the end of the game, after we lost to Butler (in the first round of the NCAA Tournament). I asked him if he had anything to say… and he said, “Coach I want to thank you for recruiting the type of young men, the players that I love being around.”And that was so powerful to hear him say that and know how much he appreciated his teammates. That’s what we’re trying to do, to teach our players. And I tell them all the time, these relationships these bonds you develop on this basketball team will last a lifetime.So I don’t know if there was a particular moment or particular game.I think that the comeback against Oklahoma State was huge because we were down most of the game, went back and forth, then had to pull it out in overtime and that gave us the confidence and belief because we had lost quite a few close games early on in the season, especially in league play, in the Big 12 so I think that showed us that we could really compete and win close games."
WER: Finally, what would you like to say to the Texas Tech fans?
"TS: Well, I’d just like to thank them for their patience and their support. Because I think that’s critical in any organization. I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with outstanding people like (Texas Tech assistant coach) Alvin “Pooh” Williamson, who was my very first recruit as a head coach back at Tulsa in 1991… and Joe Esposito, who coached here in Texas and was the one who encouraged me to coach in Lubbock and at Texas Tech.He said, “It’s a good program and we can make it better. Just make sure you bring me along with you.”And then there is Saul Smith (Coach Tubby Smith’s son) and those are the guys I surround myself with because the players have to have the same message. And that’s what, again I keep going back to Dove Men + Care and what it means and why I partnered with them.Because I see what they are trying to do to celebrate (good) men, not just X’s and O’s.But I’d tell the Texas Tech fans and supporters to keep believing, keep trusting in us because we are heading in the right direction."
Tonight, Coach Smith will officially be honored with the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in Los Angeles. But his success as a coach goes far beyond his knowledge of basketball.
In this video, Tubby Smith talks about what the award means to him.
Tubby Smith truly cares for the young men he brings into his program and that has been perhaps his biggest legacy.
"“You have to let them know that you’re going to love them like they were your own sons. And you have to understand that discipline is part of that, too. You need to have discipline to be successful in life.” Smith said in an interview on the Dove Men + Care website.“Any successful person needs someone inspiring them or motivating them to be all they can be. A coach should be there to do that for his players.”"
Texas Tech is fortunate to have such a legendary coach leading its program. But to have a person with such high integrity, class and character as Tubby Smith is a blessing to Texas Tech University that extends far beyond the basketball court into the community of Lubbock and the state of Texas.
Wreck ‘Em Red would like to thank fellow Red Raider Sarah Harlan as well as Julia Chappell, both of Edelman Consumer Marketing as well as Dove Men + Care for helping facilitate this interview with Coach Tubby Smith. And of course we would like to thank Coach Smith himself for being so gracious with his time.