Tubby Smith's focus squarely on turnovers

Unlike in Tom Hank's "Castaway" where he found a gift-wrapped soccerball present in a plane crash, Tubby smith has presented each player of his team with an early Christmas present, a basketball. While Hanks was stranded on an island, his best friend became the soccerball he named "Mr. Wilson." The team members now have to carry around their own Mr. Wilson everywhere they go.

Unlike in Tom Hank's "Castaway" where he found a gift-wrapped soccerball present in a plane crash, Tubby smith has presented each player of his team with an early Christmas present, a basketball. While Hanks was stranded on an island, his best friend became the soccerball he named "Mr. Wilson." The team members now have to carry around their own Mr. Wilson everywhere they go.

Smith is fully cognizant of the fact no matter how many problems he fixes with his team, against good competition, turnovers will get you beat. In the last four games his team has averaged 20 turnovers. The coach is a stickler for detail and one has to know this is driving him up a wall.

Sunday's practice prior to Tuesday night's game against Chattanooga, Smith instituted an individual wind sprint for each player every time that played made a turnover. Bobby Perry said it was pretty intense. In that game, the team shot better, rebounded better and push the ball up the floor better, but they still turned the ball over 20 times.

In the practice Friday morning, Joe Crawford said, "It seemed like we were moving the ball better."

In the Chattanooga game, coach Smith was seen to be coaching harder than at any point this season and was heard numerous times throughout the game exhorting his team to "push it, push it." Could it be that the coach sincerely wants to speed up the tempo this season? If so, history tells us Smith has been a hard sell accepting turnovers and will pull back the reins to prevent them. Be darn if you do and be darn if you don't because, perhaps, at least against certain opponents a fast game gives him the best chance to win.

So in addition to Mr. Wilson, what else has been done to try to rectify the turnover problem? "Last night in practice coach set side three balls and that was all the balls we were going to practice with," Bobby Perry said. "If we turn one ball over, we would take that ball out (of play) and when no balls were left, we would just run for the rest of time (practice). It really teaches us to treasure every possession and make crisp passes. He's trying to show us that we need to take every opportunity to score at heart. And why we are all carrying basketballs around with an individual number on it and if we don't bring it to practice there will be consequences to pay. You don't leave it lying around and allow it to disappear."

Ramel Bradley said, "He wants us to sleep with it. I already had one I sleep with and now I have two to sleep with. I've been doing that since high school."

Bradley wouldn't give a name of his long time ball but promised the name wasn't a Mr. but rather a Miss or Ms.

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