Coach Myers, how long have you known Tubby Smith and how has your relationship been with him down through the years?
I've known Tubby for a long time, since he was at Tulsa, which was one of his first jobs. Our paths didn't really cross all that much, but I did see him at coaching conventions and Final Fours and we'd get together a little then.
Probably the closest interaction I had with him early on, was when the University of Houston was looking for a new coach; it may have been when they were replacing Roy Foster after he'd gone to Nevada. Anyway, it was when Tubby was at Tulsa. But Houston asked me if I'd visit with Tubby and see if he'd have any interest in the Houston job. I called him up and we visited for a while, and then he called me up the next day and said that he'd only been at Tulsa a short time and wasn't ready to leave yet.
I've always admired Tubby, the kind of guy he is. He's ethical, does things the right way, is a good coach, has a good command of his players, good discipline and his teams play hard.
What would you say are Tubby's strengths as a coach?
His strengths, from what I know about him and having seen his teams play, is that he demands and earns the respect of his players. He will win those players over out there. They will respect him, see that he is a good coach and has a good plan. His players graduate, and there have never been any kind of incidents or allegations with him. Tubby's teams always have good morale. He's a good leader of young players and he knows how to teach. And the most important thing about coaching is being able to teach.
How well do you think Tubby will fit in at Tech based upon his personality and the people out there in the athletic department?
I think he's gonna fit in very well. He's well grounded and humble. Even though he's had a lot of success, he still has humility. Tubby is genuine and sincere, and he appreciates the coaching opportunities he has been given. And all of that comes through when you talk to him. Tubby's got a rural background and is from a small town. He has those sorts of values that are a lot like west Texas values. Tubby has a reputation for doing things the right way, ethically, and also in his recruiting. There are no NCAA issues and his players usually graduate. Tubby doesn't just use his kids as basketball players for four years. He holds them accountable academically and gives them the opportunity to graduate and do something besides just play basketball.
Your good friend Bob Knight turned Tech around very quickly. Tech went something like 10-18 in Dickey's last year and Knight went 23-9 in his first. Is there even a remote possibility that Tubby can have similar success in his first year?
I think when Bob took over, he had some pretty good talent. He had Andre Emmett and Andy Ellis, was able to add a couple of highly rated JUCO players and some good guards. I don't know if there's any good players out there who haven't signed already. Tubby needs some good players. A wing player and some shooters. I think it will take longer with Tubby because the talent isn't quite as good. But if he can get some good players in here, he's got a chance because there is a nucleus out there, and those guys have gone through a season in the Big 12, and that will help them.
People say you can't recruit basketball players to Lubbock. Will Tubby be able to recruit?
Once we get recruits to campus, they're impressed. Tech has a great, beautiful campus and great facilities. But you have to work hard at recruiting. We're kind of isolated, 300 miles from Dallas, although with the way players move around today, that's not such a big deal. But Tubby can recruit. It will be important for him to get the right assistants, guys who can recruit and sell Tech. But I don't know if there's any prospects left out there this spring. Billy [Gillispie] signed a bunch, seven or eight guys, but they weren't highly rated at that time of the year. I think it would be a mistake to just sign a bunch of guys to be signing them, even though they are not good prospects. You're better off just waiting until the next signing period when you're starting even with everybody else.