- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Take a GPS system and insert Scotland, Maryland, into point A. Then, insert Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, in point B. It will show 1,698 mile between point A and point B.
Although St. Mary’s County native Orlando “Tubby” Smith has made head coaching stops at the University of Tulsa, the University of Georgia, the University of Kentucky and the University of Minnesota, his newest stop is 1,698 miles away from his hometown. Texas Tech introduced Smith as new head men’s basketball coach Tuesday, the coach agreeing to a six-year deal.
“It’s really wonderful to be a part of this Lubbock community and this Texas Tech University family,” Smith said in the Tuesday introductory press conference.
Smith arrived to Texas Tech after being let go by Minnesota after six seasons, in which he compiled a 124-81 win-loss record. Texas Tech won 81 games compared to 112 losses over the same time span.
His most recent successes led Minnesota to the third round of this year’s NCAA Division I basketball tournament, falling to Florida.
Now, Smith takes over a Texas Tech team that won 11 games in the 2012-13 season.
“It is my goal to build this program into one of the top programs, not just in the Big 12, but in the country,” Smith said Tuesday. “That’s not going to be easy; it’s going to be hard work. We know that the sacrifices and the process of rebuilding a program is not easy. ... I think with the identity and the talent that we have here, we have a good start.”
On what was planned to be only a conversation, a visit from the Tech leadership turned into Smith and his wife, Donna, flying back to Lubbock to take a look at the campus.
And now, he finds himself as the new head coach of the Red Raiders program.
“The enthusiasm and the passion that your leadership showed was just off the charts,” Smith said Tuesday. “We were really sold right away, and so, it was no way that we were going to be skeptical about what we were coming into. We were bitten by the bug of excitement and energy.”
For some of the upperclassmen who will be on the team next season, Smith will be their third coach in four years, a fact that Smith said he can relate to.
Smith played for multiple coaches during his time as a basketball player at High Point University (N.C.) and, after only his freshman year, had thoughts of maybe returning home.
A talk with his father caused him to stay at High Point, where he eventually met his wife and had his jersey retired and a locker room named after him.
“I played for three different coaches in four years at High Point University,” Smith said. “Sometimes, you have to just last, just stay the course. That takes a tough kid, a tough person to overcome all of those obstacles and all the different people you have to go through. ... It’s not easy.”
Smith heard from the Texas Tech committee two days after being let go from Minnesota.
The high level of competition in the Big 12 Conference combined with his familiarity with the state and recruiting region, the current team’s potential and the facilities all blended together in his decision to join the Texas Tech program and in believing that he can win there.
“Number one, I want to get back on the horse right away and get going because I feel like I have a lot to offer and a lot of energy, and there are a lot of good years left in me to coach,” Smith said Tuesday.
Now, he must take out and put on his cowboy boots, which he joked about owning during Tuesday, and guide that horse to winning ways.
“When you see the Red Raiders play, you’re going to see a team that plays hard, that plays smart and that is going to play together,” Smith said. “You are going to see a team that rebounds and a team that gets up and down the court; my teams have done that in the past. That’s the kind of energy and the type of style we plan to employ. One that’s a winning style.”