Last night while Texas Tech was on the court against LSU you could feel the intensity up a notch from where it’s usually at. Everyone that was a Red Raiders fan at the United Spirit Arena wanted the win against the Tigers so bad you could almost taste the sweet thought of victory. The fans wanted it, the players wanted it, but most of all Coach Tubby Smith wanted it. As the last 3-point shot floated out of Rob Turner’s hands at the buzzer a crushing blow was delivered to everyone holding their breath ready to explode with celebratory cheers when the ball clanked off the rim.
I was actually proud of the squad for playing such a hard fought battle, but I was left to question the last play call and why we had not gone for the higher percentage shot closer to the basket with the likely chance the refs would blow the whistle to take this match to overtime. The answer came in Coach Smith’s post game conference when he said the team did not run the play he had directed during the timeout. Smith said that Turner’s fall away 3 was not the play he had instructed the guys to run, he said they didn’t listen to him and it’s not going to happen again. He was disappointed about the ending of the game. I now had my answer.
From the beginning of the tip-off Coach Smith was visibly showing great passion for the game. He was pacing the sidelines and being extremely vocal to everyone on the court. When Tubby Smith arrived on Texas Tech campus, I did not know if I would witness the peppery Coach I was accustomed to back in the day when he was running the University of Kentucky’s basketball program. I actually thought he might have cooled down in his old age and came to Tech with a more calm approach to the game. That scared me. I was greatly mistaken as it showed last night that Coach Smith still has his intensity for the game inside him. There was arm waving, hollering at the players (and refs), and outbursts of joy and frustration. It translated to the team on the court, as you could see the guys showing emotion in their play. The energy that Coach Smith was bringing oozed out onto the floor. This wasn’t some old man that came to Lubbock, Texas to sit back and let the program slowly get back on the right track. Just like all of us, he wants it to happen as quickly as possible! I love it.
Coach Smith didn’t mind chewing out butts at timeouts. He was yelling for players to come to the bench during shooting fouls to have a brief “chat” with them. He didn’t mind voicing his opinions and disagreements to the refs when he thought they were holding their whistles back. He was out there showing us what coaching is all about.
The game was exciting, it went down to the last second. The fans that showed up at the USA were fulfilled with a joy for watching an incredibly hard fought battle. The players were disappointed with the result of a fierce contest. But, the thing I really took away from the matchup with LSU is that Coach Tubby Smith still has a fire inside him for the game of basketball. I cannot wait to keep cheering this team on. Wreck ‘em Tech!