Thursday, March 7, 2013
Recruiting Against Tubby: Almost Too Easy
Tubby Smith seems to like the hot seat. Maybe like a baby who is unhappy when leaving the warmth of the womb upon birth cries, Tubby doesn’t like the cool feeling on his rump when leaving the hot seat following an upset win against Indiana last week, instantly heated back up that same seat with a loss to mediocre Nebraska last night. If I’m a coach of a team in pursuit of some of the coveted Minnesota recruits, I’m pissed. Why? Because if Tubby is no longer the coach of Minnesota after being fired for another lackluster season, I have a tougher time (depending on his replacement) proving to recruits like Tyus Jones that their hometown U of M is the wrong place to sign their letter of intent. If Tubby stays, all I have to do is point to the career of one Rodney Williams and say, “You don’t want to be like that do you?” Done, I win.
Rodney Williams complete lack of development maybe the easiest tool opposing teams have to argue why a player should choose their school over Tubby Smith’s Gophers. The 42nd player on the ESPN 100 recruiting list when he came out of Robbinsdale Cooper, the hopes were high that Rodney would develop his game around his freakish athletic ability. Instead four years later we see the same player, with the same skills, mental approach and ability. The dunks and blocks are cool, but he could do all of that the day he left Robbinsdale, what has he added?
Obviously we don’t know if Rodney isn’t putting in the work on an individual basis, and he definitely deserves some of the blame in his lack of development as every player individually has to put in the work even when coached by the best. Yet, Tubby’s history with players at the U suggests that this is not an anomaly, in fact it is a trend. Look no further than his other “prized” recruit in Ralph Sampson III . Another guy that had the build and athletic ability coming in, but just needed some shaping, instead he looked just as lost as a senior on the court as he did as a freshman.
No, it isn’t just Rodney showing little to no improvement under Tubby that coaches vying for recruits against the U of M can point to. There are also the players that have decided to transfer from Tubby’s U. While there have been varying reasons for the transfers, one thing is consistent. All the players have done better away from Tubby than with him.
Travis Busch (YES! TRAVIS ‘FREAKING’ BUSCH):
2008/09 W/Tubby – 11.1 mpg, 3.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg
2009/10 W/O Tubby @ Colorado State – 18.6 mpg, 5.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg
2008/09 W/Tubby – 17.7 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg
2009/10 W/Tubby – 16.9 mpg, 5.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg
2010/11 W/Tubby - 18.3 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg
2012/13 W/O Tubby @ Colorado State – 29.5 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg.
2008/09 W/Tubby – 16.7 mpg, 5.0 ppg, 1.5 apg
2009/10 W/Tubby – 25.5 mpg, 9.4 ppg, 3.0 apg
2010/11 W/Tubby - 25.1 mpg, 11.3 ppg, 3.5 apg
2011/12 W/O Tubby @ Oregon – 35.3 mpg, 16.7 ppg, 3.8 apg
2008/09 W/Tubby – 16.0 mpg, 5.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg
2009/10 W/Tubby – 15.2 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg
2010/11 W/O Tubby @ Illinois – Chicago – 32.6 mpg, 14.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg
2009/10 W/Tubby – 10.7 mpg, 2.1 ppg, 1.3 ast
2011/12 W/O Tubby @ Cal – 32.2 mpg, 12.6 ppg, 5.0 ast
2012/13 W/O Tubby @ Cal – 35.5 mpg, 15.1 ppg, 4.8 ast
Then you look at Rodney Williams stagnant numbers and wonder just how good he could have been had he also transferred:
2009/10 W/Tubby – 11.9 mpg, 4.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg
2010/11 W/Tubby – 24.6 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg
2011/12 W/Tubby - 31.9 mpg, 12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg
2012/13 W/Tubby – 28.0 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg
Many arguments could obviously be made to explain these numbers. They went to lesser competition. They got more minutes. Tubby’s system is more team oriented. Rodney’s numbers do show some improvement if you have very low expectations on improvement. All well and good for maybe picking a couple of the situations and explaining away any blame for Tubby. It’s when you compile all of it together, and consider the players who stuck with the Gophers like Rodney, Al Nolen, Ralph Sampson III, Trevor Mbakwe, Blake Hoffarber and so far Joe Coleman, Austin Hollins and Dre Hollins and see their overall lack of significant improvement, the argument becomes hard to make. Tubby is at fault.
Possibly the most damning evidence that Tubby is an issue when it comes to player development came from transfer Colton Iverson in a Yahoo! Sports story, “One of the main reasons I left Minnesota was I felt like I wasn't improving as a player and reaching my full potential," Iverson said. "I wanted to find a place where I could get better and play a bigger role on the team. I'm fortunate to have found a place where they'd invest time in me and it has worked out great.”
A highly coveted recruit could not only do the same research on Tubby’s history I’ve done here, but could easily go even deeper to his players at Kentucky and even prior to that and likely find the same trend. A high school junior could likely also remember that Tubby’s #1 claim to fame is winning that title at Kentucky, the very first year with the Wildcats, with players recruited and groomed by Rick Pitino.
If the highly coveted recruits in the state of Minnesota aren’t currently looking into this depressing history of player development under Tubby, coaches at Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Wisconsin, etc., are. They have it laid out in a very easy to read document for the young men, and then compare that history with their own likely much more positive development history. So in the end, the biggest Achilles heel for Tubby recruiting big time Minnesota recruits, or for that matter recruits in general, could be just looking at his past recruits development or lack thereof. Or his team's record it the B1G… Or his habit of throwing players under the bus after losses… Or the amount of transfers out of the program… Or…