Tubby Smith Media Day Transcript

Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!

Oct. 13, 2011

“Welcome, everybody, back to this fifth edition, fifth year here. Time just flies when you’re having such a great time. You work in this business because you enjoy being around young people, teaching them the game of basketball, teaching them about life. It doesn’t seem like it’s been 39, starting my 39th year in coaching. But it’s been great. It’s been fun, and this year I’m even more fired up about this group of young men that we’ve been able to assemble. They really have done everything we’ve asked them to do—throughout the summer, in post-season last spring—the kids we recruited, the returning players. When people leave, you want to improve. You expect to improve. And I think we’ve done that. So you have to compliment my staff. They’ve done a fantastic job. ….Those guys have been great. The key to success is continuity. When you can get continuity in your system, and people are around for awhile—certainly we had that last year up until we had those issues. But wins and losses, they’re going to come. I can handle it when I know that we’ve done all we could to give our kids the best chance to compete. …Hopefully we can share things with you about our program, about what’s going on in Gopher basketball as much as we can. It’s a good feeling when things seem to be falling in place, and I thought they were at a point last year. They were at this time last year. We were coming back from Canada, where we really had played well and everything was on the uptick. That’s what I choose to focus on, the positive things that we did last year and the positive things that we see for the future.”

Andre Hollins and Joe Coleman

“They’re both freshmen that have shown maturity beyond their years and beyond their experience so far. This summer, I can’t say enough about how committed and how dedicated those two guys are. They never missed anything. They never missed a class, a meeting, a workout.”

“Those two freshmen are great additions. I don’t think that we’ve recruited two better people in maybe my coaching career.”

Julian Welch

“He’s a kid that is multifaceted, that can play the point guard spot or the shooting guard, or either wing position. …I like his toughness. He’s got a lot of games under his belt, having played at UC-Davis and then having played at junior college. …He’s a scoring guard that can be a point guard for us. I like his basketball understanding.”

Andre Ingram

“Great attitude, great work ethic.”

“He’s about 6-7, really a leaper, strong rebounder. He’ll give us some added depth in the front court that we need.”

Elliott Eliason

“I think Elliott has made tremendous strides. His strength, his body, his transformation from his freshman year to now has been outstanding. He’s got a good work ethic. …He’s very aggressive. He’s very physical. He’ll give us a real presence because he understands how to play the game. …He’ll have to make the adjustment getting back to playing.”

Oto Osenieks

“I like his range on his jump shot. He’ll give us a real three-point threat, something that we struggled with last year.”

Chris Halvorsen

“Chris is probably one of our best athletes on the team. He’s a guy that’s more of a power forward than he is anything else at this point.”

Maurice Walker

“He’s not going to be ready for practice—for full contact—for awhile. Maybe in a week or two.”

Kendal Shell

“Kendal’s a guard. He’s a kid that’s been working hard as well. We’ll see how things go with him.”

Austin Hollins

“I think Austin averaged all the most minutes of all the returning sophomores. He averaged about 15, 16 minutes a game, which is good. He didn’t shoot the ball well, but he led us in steals and deflections per minutes played. Very active, very athletic, and he’s going to be vying for that starting spot at the shooting guard spot. He’s a guy that has improved his outside shooting, improved his strength. You combine that with his hard-nosed toughness, and it’s going to be hard for someone to beat him out if he’s got an opportunity to start.”

Maverick Ahanmisi

“Maverick has improved a lot. Maverick is a kid that played well in the second half of the season. In fact, his shooting percentage is about the only shooting percentage that improved in league play. He may have been the only guy on our team that his shooting percentages improved during league play.”

Chip Armelin

Tubby said he has gotten better at shooting and strength-wise.

Rodney Williams

“Rodney, he’s a guy that has had a good summer. He did some work, went out and had some training. He did some work in Chicago. He was invited to LeBron James’ camp. I think he’s got a lot of confidence. He’s working on trying to change his shot, but it’s always tough. That’s a tough thing to do. I think his getting stronger will make him more physical. It’ll make him tougher. One of the areas I’ve tried to challenge him with is just to be tougher. It’s hard to be tough when you’re not physical. One of the things I’m trying to get him to be is just be stronger and you can be more physical.”

Team in general

“We haven’t had one issue in the fall on and off the basketball court. So I’m very relaxed and very comfortable with this group”

Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III

“The seniors are the most experienced and the guys that we feel are the most mature and are going to have to carry the load this year.”

“Trevor and Ralph will give us a very good front court. They both averaged double figures in scoring, and Ralph has improved each year. His stats have gone up each year, and I expect him to do the same this year. He’s one of the top shot blockers in the league. His shooting was a little off last year, but he’ll be a lot better this year. He needed to get the ball to the basket more, get to the free throw line, and he’ll be fine.”

“Trevor had a good summer, playing with the U.S.A. world university team. He played in the LeBron James camp. He’s coming back a pre-season all-conference pick, and probably a nominee for the Wooden Award. If he can play like he did last year, he’ll make a lot of noise.”

On if he views this as an “NCAA or bust” season:

“I don’t ever look at it that way. If I did that, I’d be a fool. …I go in to be the best we can be, if it’s NCAA, if it’s NIT. We probably could have gone to one of the post-season things (last year), but we weren’t playing very well. I didn’t think it would do us any good to play in the post-season. …We had an opportunity, but I think this year is a good chance. I think our opportunity has been good every year to get to the NCAA.”

On the competition for the starting point guard spot:

“The returning players obviously have the upper hand. Maverick played the point last year. But Andre Hollins and Julian are very gifted athletes. It’ll be a lot of competition.”

On when he noticed Andre Hollins’ maturity and competitiveness--during recruiting, or after Hollins’ arrival:

“He’s had that. His high school coach does a fantastic job at Whitestation. He does a super job. …Austin Hollins was a big key, having had a good experience here his freshman year. I think we saw the need for a point guard knowing that Al was a senior. I saw all the leadership skills, all the qualities. …It’s yet to be seen. He’s shown it so far in practice and in individual workouts and in the classroom, in the weight room, everything we’ve asked him to do. Those are good indicators that he’s capable of doing what we expect him to do, is be a leader and a point guard in the Big Ten.”

On whether he is opposed to starting a freshman at point guard:

“No. If he’s good enough and he wins the job, then he’ll start. Whoever wins the job, that’s how we’ll operate. He’s very talented. …We’ve started freshmen in the past. We don’t mind starting them now.”

On Mbakwe and Sampson were serious about testing the NBA waters:

“They always are serious about it. That’s their dream. Both those guys are serious about it. They want to be the best. They work extremely hard. I know they’re happy they didn’t (go to the draft), especially with what’s going on with the NBA now. They certainly made a wise decision, and we’re grateful because it’s going to benefit us having them back. …Hopefully it inspires and motivates them to come back and work that much harder. And that’s what I’ve been seeing in both of those kids—that they want to not just prove, but improve on the things that they saw they needed to improve on.”

On his health after having prostate cancer surgery in the spring:

“I’m fine. I’ve got to go back for check-up eventually. It’s clean so far, knock on wood. I’ve been blessed.”