AD judges Smith "over the long haul"

Mitch Barnhart on Tubby Smith, "Everybody talks about what a great guy he is. I will clearly talk about what a great guy he is. I will also talk about what a great coach he is. He has not forgotten what to do between the lines. There are times when you hit a bump. How we react to that as a program, as a fan base, remains to be seen. I would hope we react in the right way because he is a great coach and he deserves to be treated that way."

Tubby Smith does not have a more loyal supporter than athletics director Mitch Barnhart. An 87-15 record — the best in the nation — over the last three years and two Elite Eight berths will earn a coach that kind of respect from his athletics director.

That's why Barnhart thinks others should remember more than UK's current three-game losing streak or struggles this season when they start to criticize Smith for the Cats' 15-9 record going into Wednesday's game with Georgia.

"I think perspective is supposed to be a very, very important thing for people to keep. You look at people over the long haul and what they have done," Barnhart said. "Tubby was 87-15 the last three years. He has been to two Elite Eights and was probably an ankle injury and rebound away from two Final Fours.

"Obviously, you are only as good as you last game in our business. That is unfortunate because this guy has served the University of Kentucky, college basketball and the young people that he has coached very well."

Barnhart says he often marvels at how Smith sometimes is held in higher esteem outside Kentucky than he is by fans in the Bluegrass who are so passionate about the Wildcats.

"He is an outstanding basketball coach who is highly respected nationally. I am always amazed at how much more of an expert you are perceived to be as you get away from where you live. The way people treat him nationally is so much different than when you get close to home. He is highly respected nationally," Barnhart said. "His record, not his record, but our record, is not where we want it to be this year. But I don't anticipate this being an ongoing deal. We will get past this one (season) and get where we want to be.

"Tubby Smith has been a leader of that for an awful long time. He has done a lot. Everybody talks about what a great guy he is. I will clearly talk about what a great guy he is. I will also talk about what a great coach he is. He has not forgotten what to do between the lines. There are times when you hit a bump. How we react to that as a program, as a fan base, remains to be seen. I would hope we react in the right way because he is a great coach and he deserves to be treated that way."

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