Because he is a Kentucky native, Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury probably understands the daily pressure Kentucky coach Tubby Smith faces better than anyone else in the Southeastern Conference.
Stansbury knew Smith would be lambasted by Big Blue fans if his radical move to bench starters Rajon Rondo, Randolph Morris and Joe Crawford in favor of Brandon Stockton, Ravi Moss and Lukasz Obrzut did not work. It was a risky move considering UK was on a three-game losing streak and on the brink of elimination from NCAA Tournament consideration. However, Stansbury is not surprised that Smith made the move, or that UK has responded with consecutive victories.
"That is why Tubby Smith is one of the best coaches in the country. You can't cave in to pressure," said Stansbury. "You have to do what you think is best as a coach. At the end of the day, the coach has to live with it, right or wrong. If you make decisions on how other people look at things, then you are probably in trouble. But it takes a strong personality and confident coach to do that. He made the move and evidently it has been positive for him."
Stansbury said he thought a move a few weeks ago to give more control of the team to Patrick Sparks was just as daring, and successful. "Whenever Tubby's team gets in a lull, he makes changes that bring them out of that lull. That's what he is trying to find right now with the lineup change," Stansbury said.
Stansbury says a coach has to know the "personality" of players on his team and what it takes to motivate each one. Some players need to feel "free" to play their best. Others need a different tool.
"Sometimes getting a player pissed off at you will make him play better," Stansbury said. "I don't know that is what Tubby was doing. But I do know it was a bold move (to change the lineup), particularly in that state. But you have to make bold moves and you better make more good ones than bad ones. Tubby always seems to have made more good than bad ones. That's why he's as successful as he is."
Kentucky native knows about pressure at UK
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