Talking points: Tubby Smith, Adreian Payne, reseeding the Sweet 16 and an all-Big Ten Final Four

The basketball is on a three-day hiatus. But the NCAA tournament story lines and personalities are here to get us through any real-life drudgery.

Here are few stories and topics worthy of a read and discussion:

Tubby Smith’s firing at Minnesota

I’ve heard varying takes on Smith’s ouster as the Gophers’ basketball coach — some of it, on both sides, based on Smith’s record, but more of it a scolding of Minnesota’s perceived delusional view of itself.

MSU coach Tom Izzo was visibly upset Monday after learning of Smith’s firing. He felt bad for his friend and disagreed with the decision.

I don’t know all of the circumstances. But I don’t feel bad for Tubby Smith. He made $2.5 million last year and spent the last two decades coaching three major programs — Georgia, Kentucky and Minnesota. He had his run. These jobs aren’t a birthright and there aren’t many of them. And Minnesota’s administration didn’t think he won enough. A 46-62 Big Ten record in six seasons, including 15-29 in February, as ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan pointed out in writing that it was time for both sides to move on, seems like cause to give fresh blood a chance.

As to what the Gophers will do, I have little faith (I’ve seen too many athletic directors bungle these decisions). But I don’t buy this notion that Minnesota should recognize its limitations and that it can’t do better than Smith.

Twenty years ago, the same could have been said about MSU, or, 35 years ago, about Duke. Things can change with the right coach. And — listen up, ADs — it doesn’t have to be a big name like Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens. Those guys, like Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski, were once assistants, too. Find your guy, give him the resources and stand by him. Don’t worry about the name. Hire the coach and person.

Adreian Payne and 7-year-old Lacey

One of the better scenes you’ll see at a college basketball practice happened Monday, when MSU’s Adreian Payne greeted 7-year-old Lacey Holsworth, a St. Johns native battling cancer.

Payne, who’s become friends with Holsworth since originally being introduced to her in the hospital, didn’t look like he wanted Monday’s meeting to be public. But a dozen or so reporters were hanging around for interviews, so it was. Here’s colleague Joe Rexrode’s story on Payne and Lacey, as well as Paul Henderson’s video from Monday.

Reseeding the Sweet 16

ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf did a mock reseeding of the Sweet 16, based on the remaining teams.

Louisville, as they were on selection Sunday, was his top overall seed. Michigan, Florida and Ohio State, in that order, were the other No. 1s.

MSU was the top No. 2 seed. Indiana was next. Kansas, an actually No. 1 seed, was barely a 3 in these reseeded rankings.

Medcalf said he based it entirely on how these teams were playing right now.

My only disagreement is that he doesn’t really know how they’re playing right now, because this tournament is about matchups. Michigan, for example, appears to be playing its best basketball of the season. But VCU was a perfect opponent for U-M — with plenty of clout and a style that plays into the strengths of the Wolverines, who would prefer to be on the go, rather than grind it out.

An all-Big Ten Final Four?

The possibility still exists. The four remaining Big Ten teams — MSU, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State — are all in separate regions.

Yahoo.com’s Kyle Ringo wrote about the chances of the historic feat (never done before), and why each team can and can’t get there.

I’d rank their chances, from best to worst, in this order: Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, MSU.

Ohio State has the best draw by far, with the top half of the West bracket in shambles and an up-and-down Arizona club the highest seed in its way.

Michigan’s path in the South isn’t horrible. Kansas will be a difficult matchup (not the run-and-gun fun U-M had last Saturday), but isn’t overwhelming and Florida, the next highest remaining seed in the region, has been inconsistent, especially away from home.

Indiana, the Big Ten’s best team most of this season, has Syracuse and then perhaps Miami in its way.

MSU has the toughest road, at least on paper, with Duke and likely Louisville this weekend.

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18 Responses to Talking points: Tubby Smith, Adreian Payne, reseeding the Sweet 16 and an all-Big Ten Final Four

  1. avatar MikeAPP says:

    MSU’s road is tough, no question. However, Izzo is Izzo. I think Duke is the biggest challenge for now. You can’t get to Louisville until you beat Coach K and the Dukies.

    As for Michigan, I think Kansas isn’t a bad matchup. Their length on the wings could cause issues for Hardaway and Co. shooting, but I think McGary can make Withey a wash if McGary stays out of foul trouble. Trey Burke is going to show up and do things that make people go “wow”. I like Michigan in a close game where both teams like to run a bit. That favors Michigan, they are deeper too.

    • avatar MSU Owns Beilien says:

      Withey is a 5th year senior who is taller than McGary. McGary has gone up against guys 6 inches shorter than him. Look for KU to pound it down low all game. KU by 8-10 pts.

      • avatar MikeAPP says:

        I could see Withey winning the matchup, but I think McGary who has come on as late could possibly give Withey issues. What about the other matchups? Tim Hardaway is giving defenses fits with his shooting and Trey Burke played poorly in the first to games so far. I doubt that continues. The B1G season has really poslished all of the teams in the league and we are seeing the fruits of that against less competition. Kansas struggled vs. an athletic UNC team early. UNC poor shooting end up as their demise. I don’t credit Kansas a lot for that either. Their defense has been poor all year.

  2. avatar Spartan 81 says:


    The little bit I gathered was that Norwood Teague promised the UPresident he could bag Shaka
    And that is why he got the green light to pull the trigger. Now it looks like Shaka will stay put and Teague is under heavy fire for the buy out, rumors are he threw 21 million as Smart. If he doesn’t land him it’s not good for Teague and I don’t think he can.

    I have a question for you. Tyus Jones were really impressed that Tom Izzo could be here for the State Title three hours after the Memphis game ended for his state title game. I saw Izzo go down and shake his hand after the game. With Tubby gone and rumors being that Jones and Okafer may be a package deal, do you think this increases the chances of landing Jones? If so and Izzo clearly wants him I know you have expressed concern that Valentine has to be the point guard of the future. But could not Valentine be moved to the 2 position in 2015 if Jones is what Tubby thought he was. Tubby told me at a banquet that Jones reminded him of CP3 as far as leadership and natural skill set?

    • avatar dmbtierney says:

      Spartan 81: since you have the inside poop in the Twin Cities area, question: Will the U of M have to really upgrade the BB facilities to attract a top level coach? I’ve been to the Barn many times, and although historic, it really is old with poor amenities. The lack of practice facilites has to hurt too. Any chance of sharing games in the Target Center? Young players really some to like playing in pro arenas.

      • avatar Spartan 81 says:

        The big thing is they have to have a practice facility. Teague promised President Kaler that he would bring in such a big name that Donors would donate the money. That’s why Kaler gave him the green light to pull the trigger. Last night on the radio Lou Nanny who is plugged in said
        That he had seen texts from donors promising massive funds if Shaka Smart was secured. So it was a bifurcated two step procedure. Teague was to hire Smart, and the donors would give the money for a practice facility. He went all in on Smart to the point if it blows up he will be out because of it.

      • avatar Spartan 81 says:

        Target center is out, from everything I have heard Tubby was saying he could not recruit at the highest level without a practice facility, and because of the buyout the facility has to come from doners, who will only fund it if a name coach is brought in.

    • avatar msu76 says:

      Good things happen for us when Minnesota hires & fires coaches. When they fired Mason, we got Greg Jones, and when they hired Tubby, we got Day Day. Now that they’ve fired Tubby, maybe we’ll score a major recruit!

    • avatar Graham Couch says:

      Hey Spartan81,

      If MSU lands Jones, it definitely alters the PG position beyond Keith Appling. The more I watch Valentine, the more I think his skills can work on the wing. Not just as a passer, but also as a driver, scorer and rebounder. That said, he’s a natural point guard. But if Jones is the next Isiah Thomas or something of that style, it’ll be hard to keep the ball out of his hands.

      • avatar Spartan 81 says:

        Not that good, but Tubby did tell me he is very similar to Chris Paul from Wake Forest and he said he will be better than Kalin Lucas because I asked him, so better than Lucas not as good as Isaiah.

  3. avatar Jmac says:

    Other than Ohio State’s draw, it is a toss up who has the next best situation going forward. How good is the Big East and how good is Duke? There is plenty of evidence and results to suggest it could go either way. We get to find out in a few days.

    One thing is certain, winning the Big Ten tournament was a pretty big deal this year. The West #2 is turning out to be a pretty nice opportunity for a Final 4 trip.

    • avatar griff325 says:

      Yeah we always tend to get the tough draw when it comes down to which bracket we are placed in. Just look at last year, the year before, etc. It has just become a norm, but we have been through it before. Never ever doubt an Izzo team in March, we look stronger than ever. If we were able to walk over a strong Memphis team like that, I think we can take Duke. Louisville, however will be the toughest matchup although I’m not convinced they have beat anyone tough either.

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  5. avatar larry says:

    Do you even watch basketball? You claim Duke is weak, yet you say Memphis is strong. Losing to the only ranked opponents they’ve played, and beating a weak St. Mary’s team by 2 points is far from strong.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Go back to cleaning toilets Larry Belein is bored with you

    • avatar MSU Owns Beilein says:

      I never said Duke was weak. Do you have time to even watch basketball with all those toilets to clean in BTN studios? And Memphis is a hell of a lot better than VCU. scUM should ask MSU for tips on how to beat Kansas.

      • avatar reality check says:

        You need to start treating larry with more respect. He is a good employee and a brilliant basketball mind. You need to remember who holds the power of moderation my Spartan friend.

    • avatar Griff325 says:

      Hey Larry if you have watched any basketball this year you would know that the ACC is real weak this year! Duke is no push around nor did I say they were weak but their conference is weaker this year than it has been. Do your research! Oh and Memphis is a very recognized program and very well coached.

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