The University of Memphis hired former Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith to replace the departed Josh Pastner last week. Now that our sports reporters Austin Reynolds and J.T. Mullen have had time to let the hire sink in, The Daily Helmsman asked them their thoughts on Smith and whether or not he will be a success at Memphis.
Now that you have had a few days to digest the hire, how do you feel about Tubby Smith at Memphis?
AR: I like it. It's not the most exciting hire in the world, but he's a proven coach that is going to win, and if he wins basketball games nobody is going to care whether the hire was "exciting" or not.
JM: I really like the hire now. Smith is an experienced coach, who has won everywhere he's been. He is known as an X's and O's guy, which Memphis hasn't had in a while. I think it's a good hire overall.
What is the most important thing Smith needs to do this offseason?
AR: Find a way to get players. Even with Dedric Lawson returning, this is not a very good Tigers roster right now, and at this point quantity is almost as important as quality. The roster is totally depleted, and they just need bodies at this point.
JM: Obviously fill out the roster. Depending on the transfer situation, Smith will have 3-5 spots to fill. If you can add decent talent, especially at point guard, the team could be decent next season.
What is the biggest challenge Smith will face as coach of the Tigers?
AR: Putting a serviceable roster together for next season. He needs a lot of players and not a whole lot of time to get them.
JM: I think filling the roster is definitely the hardest challenge he will face. He inherited a program on the decline, where players were leaving left and right. Smith isn't known as a great recruiter, so filling out the roster with Memphis caliber talent will be the toughest challenge.
What would be success for you?
AR: For me next season doesn't matter. Smith has a very tough task next season, and I wouldn't call missing the postseason a failure. That being said, he needs to be in the NCAA Tournament in two seasons, and probably making a run to the Sweet 16 in three or four years.
JM: Obviously I want to see a trip to the Big Dance, but if Smith leads the Tigers back to at least the NIT, I'd be happy.
Will Smith be successful at the U of M? Why or why not?
AR: Yes. Smith wins everywhere he goes. There's no reason to think he won't win here.
JM: I think his success will depend on recruiting. If Smith can add a strong recruiter to his staff to help him land highly touted recruits, especially the ones in the area, I think Smith will have a lot of success here. If recruiting suffers, I think Smith and Memphis will struggle.
New University of Memphis basketball coach Tubby Smith.