While insisting that being named the Associated Press Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year was more about team than him, Kentucky coach Tubby Smith certainly let the honor put him in a good mood Tuesday. And it should have because Smith has done a marvelous job with this team and deserves to be SEC Coach of the Year.
Smith joked with media members about a variety of subjects during his 35-minute press conference. Then once the conference officially ended, he stayed around and talked even more.
Obviously, Smith did not let Sunday's loss at Florida ruin the confidence he has in this team going into postseason play.
"We have a great group of guys. It has been a fun year coaching these guys because they are so eager to learn," Smith said. "Sometimes they have not grasped things as quickly as you want, but they have retained most things and utilized it."
Smith said he takes pride every year in what his teams accomplish. Based on the way his teams consistently win, he should. However, even the veteran coach admitted taking a team with two freshmen starters along with transfer Patrick Sparks to the SEC regular-season championship was special.
The coach said young players have "more room for improvement" but that it "takes a little more patience" when coaching them. "You've got to be more simplistic, not take things for granted because everything is new to them," Smith said.
Chuck Hayes was named to all-SEC first team, an honor he certainly deserved because of all the things he does. Leading scorer Kelenna Azubuike was named to the second team and Sparks took third team honors.
"Any time you receive an award, it's because of the team," Smith said. "I try to teach from day one on how important it is to be united."
Which is just one reason he's again the SEC Coach of the Year.