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March 16, 2016

Tubby Smith

Raleigh, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We're now ready to continue the Texas Tech press conference. Coach, at this time could you please make an opening statement.

TUBBY SMITH: Well, first, I just want to certainly thank the Selection Committee. We're really excited to be a part of this tournament. One of the greatest athletic events in sports, and so it's good to be back in it again with the -- with Texas Tech red Raiders.

Q. What is your message? There's so much experience you've had in this tournament and your players having none of that experience. What has been your message to this team, whether it is to keep them grounded or tell them what to expect as they step on that court for the first time?
TUBBY SMITH: Well, first, you lead by example. I think they -- hopefully they see that, in preparing, whether it was the first game of the year, or the last game of the year, whether we're preparing for TCU or Little Rock, South Dakota State and now we're preparing for Butler and I think continuity and consistency is the key. And let them know that it's a wonderful opportunity, a great opportunity for them to project the, you know, the -- represent the university the right way, represent themselves, and then compete.

So they all know that we're going compete every day in practice, and the intensity level now has to be enhanced. And that's something that we try to create in the practices since the Big 12 -- since our last game. And just to enjoy the journey. You know, we try to -- even though we want to be serious-minded, but we still want to enjoy this experience.

Q. At what point did you feel like or could you tell that you guys were turning the corner? I know you lost some close games in Big 12 play, but at what point did you feel like you guys got it and were on that roll?
TUBBY SMITH: Well, you know, I don't know if there was any point in time. I was very confident that we had a good team, and we were playing against some good teams, as our record, as our schedule indicates. We have one of the toughest schedules in the country. And I knew the competition we were playing against. I mentioned South Dakota State, and High Point University, teams that won their league, Arkansas Little Rock, Hawaii. You about I knew the Big 12 was a different, you know, different level, and so we needed to increase our intensity.

And then you have things that happen throughout the course of the season that the -- whether it's within the team, players that you have to work with on and off the court, but I thought the, you know, the win, I guess a Richmond team, I thought the -- you know, really played Kansas tough at home, played them tough on the road. We had a good run. You know, we went through some tough losses, but the overtime win against Oklahoma State at home was huge. We were behind. But I saw a level of confidence, you know, I saw our guys starting to believe. Even though we had lost Norense Odiase with a broken leg at TCU. Guys came together and were really united. That game gave us -- again, the joy and excitement after losing a few close games against Baylor and other teams, and West Virginia, who we felt like we had beat at home. That's when we turned the corner. Then we went on the road and beat Baylor. Those were huge moments for our players.

Q. Tubby, I was wondering, which element of your career speaks more, or are you prouder of in terms of a legacy, that you won a national championship or that you took five schools to the NCAA Tournament, an accomplishment only one other coach can share?
TUBBY SMITH: All of those are good, and certainly everybody wants to be the best they can be, but just the sheer joy of seeing players develop, get their degree. But you ask me which one of those, I would like to be able to stay in one place and say, I wish we had done it in one. But again, every job we took, it was the step in the right direction, and we certainly moved our family quite a bit. And I tell young men, young coaches, be sure you have a good wife, a good family backing that's supportive of you. So, my wife, Donna, has been very -- just her appreciation and the sacrifices that she's made, and the family's made, moving around, but five teams is -- and Lon Kruger is a great friend of mine, and a great coach, colleague. So to be able to do that, tells me that we have a philosophy, you know, that we've done things the right way, because people weren't going to hire you. They're not going to hire you unless you were successful at the prior university. So, I'm really pleased about that.

Not to take anything away from a national championship, but I'm really honored to be able to serve all of those great institutions, Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, and now Texas Tech.

Q. Sort of following up on that, you talked about telling the guys to enjoy the moment. Is there a different enjoyment you have with the Tournament now that it's been as many times as you've been, as many different places, and is it any different when you've been at a school that hasn't been in nine years?
TUBBY SMITH: Well, it's a difference, when you have a school like Texas Tech that has struggled for so many years to get back to the NCAA. There's a real gratification and satisfaction, in just the community, Lubbock, west Texas, the excitement surrounding the program. And that's really appreciated because our guys are deserving of that. They really have made a lot of sacrifices to stick it out. You know, guys liked to Toddrick Gotcher, who is in his fifth year there. I'm his fourth coach. Guys like Aaron Ross, who has gone through two knee surgeries and then the young men that were -- that trusted us that, hey, Coach, we believe. We're going to help you turn this program around. So, that's the, you know, the satisfaction.

And you're grateful that you get this opportunity, because we did get fired at our last job, and I'm really grateful that Kirby Hocutt, our athletic director, and Mr. Duncan, our chancellor and our president, called me the day after I was fired and I said, I appreciate that. That's why we're enjoying this opportunity, because it was -- it is a gift. It is a privilege to be able to coach, and do something that I've loved doing for so many years, so, I'm very appreciative of that. Thank you.

Q. Coach, can you comment about opening the season against your alma mater and basically being back in the same area for the NCAA Tournament?
TUBBY SMITH: I'm really impressed with Scott Cherry and the job he's done at alma mater, at High Point, the Purple Panthers. Dr. Qubein, Nido Qubein, who I went to college with, he's the president there and he's done a fantastic job in growing that program. Again, that was a great opportunity for our team, because they gave us all we wanted in our first game at home. I'm not sure we should have scheduled them because we had a tough time winning that game. But, again, I said we were measuring ourselves against the best and that's where we try to schedule. But it's good to be back in this region. Having coached at Hoke County in Raeford, North Carolina, played in the Raleigh Times-Dispatch Tournament years ago. Played against Raleigh Enloe, Raleigh Broughton and Cary. Check the records, we had seven overtimes and lost to Raleigh Enloe in the championship game. So it's good to be back here. A lot of friends and relatives that live in this area. I met my wife at High Point.

So, yeah, it's a special moment and special time to be back in North Carolina, especially in this area, coaching and bringing the Red Raiders back here and bringing my wife and family back here, too.

Q. Coach, Butler has transitioned from a mid-major league to a power conference. You've coached at the mid-major level and power conference level. They're really two different kind of pressures. I guess, if you had any advice for Coach Holtmann, what would you say? Butler fans are used to 16-2 league records. It was arduous this year just to get 10-8?
TUBBY SMITH: You know, everybody -- again, that's what success will do. People think it just happens; it's not easy. And now they're in a tougher conference. Obviously, it's pretty obvious that Coach Holtmann and staff have done a fantastic job. You can look at the teams that are in the Tournament now. They're in one of the tougher leagues, basketball leagues, in the country. So, and for them to achieve what they've achieved and do it so consistently over the years, again, we were at Tulsa -- and, you know, Butler has had good basketball tradition over the years. Basketball in Indiana is a way of life, much like it is in Kentucky and other places.

So to do it under the -- as you mentioned, I don't know if it's pressure, because I'm sure that the pressure they feel is what they're -- is inward. By that, I mean the team, they have goals just like we have goals. And every, every coaching staff and every team, you know, I don't know if it's pressure but they want to be the best and I'm really impressed with the team and the players that he's recruited, year in and year out. Their execution has been -- has been great. So, I think people better be very happy and very pleased with the consistency and continuity that they have at Butler and the job that Coach Holtmann and his staff are doing.

Q. Coach, on those same lines, can you speak to some of the Butler personnel and what concerns you the most about their ability to score the ball and everything they bring to the table?
TUBBY SMITH: Well, you have to start with their personnel. Kellen Dunham is an outstanding scorer, outstanding player, multitalented. We try to recruit Kellen Martin out of Louisville, went in his home, when I was in Minnesota, I thought he was -- I knew he'd be the next outstanding player. And certainly, he's shown that, I guess. You know, the balance they have in their line-up. You have a player like Roosevelt Jones, who's willing to just be the distributor and have the toughness and lead the way he does, and they're such outstanding shooting team, especially from the three-point line, and their balance in their line-up, creates real -- you know, they know how to find the mismatches, take advantage of those mismatches. You know, I love their execution and their spacing. Again, it's well coached. Again, in a lot of areas, they put a lost points on the board because they are very efficient. They take care of the basketball. Things we have to do is sustain our defense, you know, because they're going to -- they don't make many mistakes, so we got to be very conscious of their outside shooting, try to take that away from them as best we can. And then we've got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball, and any time you get to this level at the Tournament, you've got to defend and rebound the ball. So those are things you have to do in any game in order to win and compete.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, Coach. I'm afraid that's all of the time we have. Thank you very much and good luck tomorrow.

TUBBY SMITH: Thank you.

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