Friday, March 10, 2006


And that means its time for some serious basketball. After a disapointing regular season, Kentucky is looking to set things right in the post-season. That began yesterday with a 71-57 victory over Ole Miss. In yesterday's New York Times, there was an article about Tubby Smith and the extraordinarily high expectations which come along with coaching at the University of Kentucky. Excerpt from the article, entitled, "For Kentucky's Smith, Good Just Isn't Good Enough" are below, as the NYT is a subscription site.

NASHVILLE, March 8 — Tubby Smith has been poked and ridiculed for the Kentucky men's basketball team's un-Kentucky-like performances this season. He has been called a subpar recruiter, and there have been suggestions throughout his state that he should start packing for a big payday as a head coach in the N.B.A.

But Smith, 54, has compiled a 238-69 record while winning a national championship and five Southeastern Conference titles as Kentucky's coach. His winning percentage in nine seasons (.775) is higher than the storied program's overall winning percentage (.766).

N.C.A.A. tournament bid, gauging the popularity of Smith among Kentucky's fans and fanatics can be difficult. A team with one of the most passionate fan bases in the country, Kentucky may be at a crossroads with Smith, the coach who brought a national title to Lexington in his first season, 1997-98. Smith has never received universal support among Kentucky's fans, despite his success. Many fans never reconciled the departure of Rick Pitino in 1997 and the notion that Smith, a disciple of Pitino's, would lead a program befitting a star.

Now the Wildcats (19-11) are playing in the opening round of the SEC tournament for the first time since 1979; they finished the regular season 9-7 and did not earn a first-round bye.

Kentucky is expected to make the N.C.A.A. tournament when the pairings are announced Sunday, but the fact that the Wildcats do not have a solid foothold in the field has prompted a storm of criticism of Smith on talk radio, blogs and chat rooms.

"None on me," Smith said when asked if the criticism had a wearing affect. "I have a lot of confidence in who I am and what I'm about."

UPDATE - Down 11 points with 6:15 to go in the game, Kentucky stage an incredible rally, going on a 21-3 run to end the game. Final score, UK 68 Alabama 61. The Cats face the Gamecocks of South Carolina at 1 eastern tomorrow.