Reusse's Reality Script: Episode 13 (Tubby, of course)
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Tubby Smith's postgame news conferences generally left me puzzled, on those occasions when I was covering a game to write a Star Tribune column.
Most of the time, Tubby would get halfway through making a point or answering a question, then he would go off somewhere else. For me, it became largely a waste of valuable time to take notes during Smith's sessions, because of the lack of coherent response and/or meaningful insight.
I use the term "valuable time'' based on the newspaper deadlines that still exist for the Star Tribune print editions: 9:45 p.m. for the early run, 11:30 for what for me is generally a rewrite
The postgame access rules changed this season, Tubby's sixth in Minnesota. I'm not sure if the change was at Smith's volition or at the urging of new athletic director Norwood Teague, but the Gophers opened the locker room.
This gives reporters 12-15 minutes to ask questions of the players before the start of the head coach's media session.
For us, this was a beautiful return to the days of yore when attempting to write postgame articles and columns on a Gophers' game.
For me, it meant paying even less attention to Tubby's postgame comments, since there had been a chance to talk to players and to flesh out an angle for writing about the game.
On Wednesday, Phil Mackey and I were off the air early (at 5:30 p.m.) to make room for the Gophers' pregame show from Columbus, Ohio. I was listening on the drive home and play-by-play announcer Mike Grimm had the task (as always) of the pregame interview with Smith.
This was taped earlier in the day, after the Gophers' shootaround. Grimm tried his best, but Tubby's lack of coherent thought was alarming to me.
The coach was as muddled in these few minutes of one-and-one with a reporter with whom he's very familiar as in those rambling, off-the-cuff postgame sessions with a media room full of reporters at Williams Arena.
I called a couple of people who deal more regularly with Tubby than I do. "Is this now it? Is this all Tubby has to offer?'' I asked. "He never makes a point. He hardly makes sense.''
The answers? Yeah, basically, this is Tubby Smith in the winter of 2012-13, as another Gophers' season hits the skids.
The second-half give up at Iowa on Sunday was disgusting for Gophers' followers. What took place in the second half on Wednesday was depressing.
The Gophers tried to push the ball and play with pace in the first half. They threw the ball away too often, but you didn't see a team mystified as to what it wanted to do.
And then in the second half, you watched for a time and said, "They can't compete. They are done as a competent basketball team.''
I quit with 10-12 minutes left and started watching the Timberwolves (no picture painting themselves, by the way). I couldn't stand watching one more pass bounce off the rock-hard hands of Mo Walker.
The Gophers finished with 45 points, 14 field goals and 24 turnovers.
They are as pathetic as the post-Al Nolen, Devoe Joseph crew of the 2011 Big Ten, as pathetic as the overmatched, post-Trevor Mbakwe crew of the 2012 Big Ten.
There are no such excuses over defections and injuries this time. Rodney Williams has a shoulder problem, but he was becoming a low-impact senior in Big Ten games before that became a significant issue.
This team has been lost.
And while I always feel that fans and the media are too easy to let players off the hook when we turn against a coach, it's apparent that Tubby's athletes find his messages as disjointed as do listeners trying to make sense of a pregame interview on a Gophers broadcast.
What does seem clear is Tubby's gone after this collapse.
There's no excuse for this one, other than the coach's inability to get the job done in the Big Ten. Teague isn't a fan and he'll raise the millions, even if they run past five.