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Monday, February 17, 2014

Resurgent Raiders: Tubby Smith has Texas Tech headed up

Expressive Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith — seen here directing the Red Raiders in a 68-60 victory at Oklahoma on Feb. 12 in Norman, Okla. — will lead the up-and-coming Raiders against Kansas University tonight in Lubbock, Texas.

Expressive Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith — seen here directing the Red Raiders in a 68-60 victory at Oklahoma on Feb. 12 in Norman, Okla. — will lead the up-and-coming Raiders against Kansas University tonight in Lubbock, Texas.

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Associated Press

Expressive Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith — seen here directing the Red Raiders in a 68-60 victory at Oklahoma on Feb. 12 in Norman, Okla. — will lead the up-and-coming Raiders against Kansas University tonight in Lubbock, Texas.

— One victory in Texas Tech’s final six regular-season basketball games would give the Red Raiders six wins in Big 12 conference play for the first time in six seasons.

Though that accomplishment would certainly impress Red Raider nation — Tech has won four Big 12 games combined the past two seasons — it would not necessarily be cause for celebration for first-year coach Tubby Smith, whose squad takes a 13-12 record, 5-7 in the league, into today’s 7 p.m. home battle against Kansas University (19-6, 10-2).

“Good is not good enough when better is expected,” said Smith, 62, who is in his 23rd season overall as a college head coach.

“I expect us to be a lot better than we are,” added Smith, winner of a national title in 1998 at Kentucky.

Tech enters today’s game with three victories (TCU and Oklahoma State at home; Oklahoma in Norman) in its last four games. Iowa State stopped Tech, 70-64, Saturday in Ames.

“They’re a lot better,” KU coach Bill Self said. “Tubby’s done a fabulous job, he and his staff. They’re playing hard. They are on a roll right now. They are playing great. What they did in Norman (68-60 win), having them down 20 in the second half, was certainly impressive. We know how easily OU scores.”

Self expects a tough game tonight.

“We know how hard it is to win there,” Self said.

KU has won the last three trips to United Spirit Arena after losing the previous three.

“Early in the season, they may have been drawing 4,000 to 5,000 (fans),” Self said. “Now they’ll probably have 13,000 or whatever the sellout would be (15,098 in United Spirit Arena). I’m excited about our guys going into a good environment playing a good team. We’ll have to be better to win down there.”

Senior forward Jaye Crockett averages a team-leading 14.8 points a game and 6.7 rebounds. Junior forward Jordan Tolbert averages 10.8 ppg. Junior guard Robert Turner averages 9.7 ppg with 69 assists against 34 steals.

“We’ve got to go out and be prepared to win the game,” KU sophomore Andrew White III said. “That team is tough. They’ve had some big wins this year. We need that win desperately. We’ll practice, prepare like we have every other game, go down in a hostile environment and try to get a win.”

KU (10-2) holds a one-game lead over Texas (9-3) in the league race. Oklahoma is 8-5, while Iowa State and Kansas State are 7-5.

“The next three games obviously will probably determine the league race in a lot of ways,” Self said. “We have a chance with two of three at home (Texas on Saturday, Oklahoma on Monday) and a tough road game to maybe create some serious separation or get a chance to maybe not be where we want to be. It’s a great opportunity for us. Texas Tech counts just as much as the Texas game.”

Embiid returns: Self said he’d like center Joel Embiid to play at least 25 minutes tonight. Embiid missed Saturday’s victory over TCU because of knee and back aches.

“That would be good. It means he wouldn’t have mauled everybody the first half, which he’s capable of doing also. His mauling takes longer than the one minute Tarik’s (Black) took last Saturday,” Self said with a laugh.

Self said the only possible problem is Embiid “might be a little winded because he hasn’t done anything in a week.”

“He practiced with us. He was looking good the way he was getting up and down, moving and being able to jump,” junior guard Naadir Tharpe said. “He was trying to get his feel for the game like early in the season.”

Embiid, who has 61 blocks, is one block shy of tying Eric Chenowith for the school record for blocks in a freshman season. Embiid has at least one block in 18 consecutive games. Chenowith’s longest streak stopped at five straight his freshman season (1997-98).

Suspension over: Self said Brannen Greene would be available to play tonight. He missed the TCU game because of irresponsible behavior. Jamari Traylor missed the game before that (at Kansas State) for the same reason.

“The reason they sat out is we don’t want to have any concerns heading into late February,” Self said. “Here you do this (suspend a player) ... when I was at Illinois or Tulsa or whatever, nobody thinks a second thing about it. Here it obviously gets a little more attention. We’ve had a little slippage. Sometimes you do something to an individual so other people know the repercussions if they don’t take care of business. Those kids are in good standing with me. They took their medicine and moved forward.”

Player of week: KU sophomore forward Perry Ellis on Monday was named co-Big 12 player of the week with Baylor’s Isaiah Austin. This marks the second time this season Ellis has won the award, while Austin was recognized for the first time. Ellis averaged 25.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in games against KSU and TCU. Baylor guard Kenny Chery won the league’s newcomer of the week.

Tubby Smith on tonight’s game: “They are the best team in the Big 12 and one of the best teams in the country. It’s a very talented team from top to bottom, not only guys in the starting lineup but guys who come off the bench. It’ll be our toughest task yet. They have one of the premier players in the country in Andrew Wiggins. Perry Ellis is playing great. Naadir Tharpe is a great leader, an exceptional point guard. We tried to recruit him at Minnesota,” added Smith, who coached six seasons at Minnesota before taking the Tech job.

“If we can recover from a poor defensive effort Saturday (at Iowa State), I think we’ll give Kansas a good run.”

Recruiting: KU signee Cliff Alexander wants his buddy, unsigned JaQuan Lyle of Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, to join him at KU. Lyle, who is considering KU, Providence, Oregon, Oklahoma State, UConn and Memphis, will visit KU for the Jayhawks’ game against Oklahoma on Monday night. He’s ranked No. 22 nationally by Rivals.com.

“I talked to him a couple of days ago,” Alexander told SNY.tv and Zagsblog.com. “He’s still making up his mind. We need a 6-foot-4 point guard. We’d love to have that.”

KU is also recruiting No. 6-ranked Myles Turner, 6-11 from Trinity High in Euless, Texas. Turner is said to be only interested in KU if Embiid heads to the NBA.

“It is what it is,” Alexander said of KU recruiting Turner. “I think we’d fit in. He blocks shots and does the same things I do. I think it’d be a dominant combo.”

Of possibly emerging as No. 1 recruit in the country, No. 4-ranked Alexander said: “I’ve played up to this point and I think I earned it, to be the No. 1 player in the country.”

Comments

Jerry Tompkins 7 months ago

Can someone tell me what exactly the Big 12 TV Network is? Cox cable here in Topeka doesn't seem to know.

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Bryce Landon 7 months ago

I just saw an update that the game will be aired on KTKA's digital weather subchannel, KTKA-DT2. KTKA is part of the Kansas First News conglomerate that includes KSNT and KTMJ.

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Bill Horton 7 months ago

The Big 12 network is local stations that carry the games not on one of the networks. The list on KUSports.com shows Topeka as KSNT. Barring black out, the game should be on ESPN3 also.

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Bryce Landon 7 months ago

See above. The game is being aired on KTKA's digital subchannel, 49.2, normally the all-weather subchannel. It's on Cox Channel 675.

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Ethan Berger 7 months ago

This article made me want to create the best coaches in our conference right now list.

  1. Bill Self
  2. Lon Kruger
  3. Rick Barnes
  4. Fred Hoiberg
  5. Bob Huggins
  6. Tubby Smith
  7. Bruce Weber
  8. Trent Johnson
  9. Travis Ford
  10. Scott Drew

I feel 2-4 are all interchangeable. Same with 5-7. Interested in yalls list.

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Erich Hartmann 7 months ago

Tubby Smith won a Natl.Championship, and his current team has some notable wins already, and is ahead of ChokieSt and Faylor. Hoiberg has been beat 5STRAIGHT by KU in the last 12mos. I do respect Kruger, but I'd put Tubby Smith 2 or 3. The TubbyTechies got legit by hiring Smith, and are starting to play like his team. Maybe I'd swap Smith for Hoiberg.

Look, we all like Fred Hoiberg, classy guy, but he is still on "Jay Wright" level (cant recruit a big just yet). Small ball--and to his credit, he's doing about all he can do with it. Nice point-forward concept with Royce White and now Georges Niang. But those guys are barely above-rim type athletes. Watching Niang on that fast break, breakaway dunk was painful: made the dunk, but clunked it off the rim. Thomas Robinson was 2in taller, but could jump 3 feet higher...(my point is recruiting). I am hoping for more success for Hoiberg, so perhaps he can land a better gig than IowaState (eventhough its his alma mater). No way Self ever goes to OklaState--he is bigger than that, & saying "no" to T.BoonePickens proved it.

Just look at this season, you can tell that OU and WVU and TxTech are well-coached teams, even TX as Barnes gets due credit.

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Ryan Shelton 7 months ago

  1. Bill Self

  2. Lon Kruger

  3. Tubby Smith

  4. Bob Huggins

  5. Rick Barnes

  6. Fred Hoiberg

  7. Bruce Weber

  8. Trent Johnson

  9. Scot Drew

  10. Travis Ford

The mentality that Tubby's kids play with, along with his past, separate him from the second tier. Rick Barnes is having a great year, but he's had way too many talented teams underachieve. As for Travis Ford, I have to congratulate him. I never would have thought I would favor Scott Drew over another coach. That's hitting an all-time low.

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Aaron Paisley 7 months ago

Self: Averaging 30+ wins a year at KU is insanely good.

Huggins: Taking multiple schools to the Final Four is impressive no matter what. I also believe he is 3rd on the active wins list.

Kruger: Any school he's at seems to be a tournament fixture. Behind Huggy because Krueger only has one Final Four.

Hoiberg: If he stays at the college level, he could very easily move up my list.

Smith: Only other coach besides Self with a ring, but he's been fired from his last two jobs and hasn't been able to sustain his success so that bumps him down.

Barnes: One year of ooverachieving doesn't replace the many years of underachieving prior to this season.

Drew: He did make Baylor a relevant program in basketball which is impressive, but he's yet to have back to back NCAA tournament appearances so his consistency isn't there.

Weber: A Final Four looks nice, but he couldn't maintain that success at Illinois and he appears to be headed down the same road now.

Johnson: Bruce Weber minus the Final Four and with and extra school he flopped at.

Ford: I think he's similar to Weber and Johnson in that he may be better suited as a mid major coach.

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Garrett Coleman 7 months ago

1.Bill Self 2.Rick Barnes 3. Long Kruger 4. Fred Hoiberg 5.Bob Huggins 6.Bruce Webber 7. Tubby Smith 8. Travis Ford 9.Trent Johnson 10. Scott Drew

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Scott MacWilliams 7 months ago

The ESPN website lists the KU/Tech game as being on ESPN3 tonight.

On coaches: I'd put Barnes at 2 also, as he has finally resuscitated his career with a bunch of junkyard dog kind of players. I might drop Travis Ford to the bottom for the way he's let Marcus Smart run over him and wreck OSU's chances. They looked like a legit Final Four team at the beginning of the season. Smart should have sat out a game after the chair dance incident...

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Suzi Marshall 7 months ago

The Big 12 has some great coaching (sans Drew and Ford).

Agree with you about Ford. In fact, I'd fire the guy for how he's managed, allow the whole thing to unfold and the total lack of understanding his own accountablability for his team.

Drew has to be 9th on the list for the incredibly poor preparation and performance of his team. Why an elite player like Turner or Austin would ever consider playing for coaches like them is far beyound my comprehesion abilities.

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Bryce Landon 7 months ago

I don't understand why you guys always bag on Scott Drew. He took a Baylor program that was on the brink of getting the Death Penalty and turned them into winners. They have two Elite Eights on their resume, an NIT championship, and they've beaten us twice in the Big 12 Tournament. All at a place that hadn't been relevant in basketball since the Truman Administration.

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Aaron Paisley 7 months ago

Drew has also never made it to consecutive NCAA tournaments. That inconsistency has to be a factor when judging Drew and that's why I don't think he can realistically be higher than 7th when there's 5 other coaches who have reached Final Fours.

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Erich Hartmann 7 months ago

Bryce, when you say "I dont understand why...", it only makes we wonder in a friendly way if you have watched several nonKU Baylor games in succession? So many obvious things come up. His zone is soft. His bigs play like tall guys only against small teams. For example in the OSU-Baylor game last night, their length DID bother 6'7 LeBryant Nash. But other than Rico Gathers, it would be hard to call their bigs "tough", as that reflects their coach. As you say they have beat KU in the Conf.Tourney a couple of times, and that can be partly because of KU's lackluster performances in those games. Consider Baylor's appearance in AFH, where Drew made it a point to say "we will play tough!" (concedes the whole point that they generally do NOT play us tough, doesnt it? Drew's own words.) To his team's credit, I thought they did come to play in AFH, and it was a single digit game until the last 2min, when they wilted. But that was 1 time I've seen them amped, as they were 2yrs ago in the Conf.Tourney. Routinely, they are NOT as tough as Self-coached teams. And they play a poor version of a 2-3 zone. Not like Syracuse...but a B-minus version of one. Lets not forget the truly unforgettable time that nice Scot Drew got so frightened by KU's loud intro video that he retreated with his whole team into the tunnel, until that loud noise was finished...Self said "I dont know what that was about". Drew said he wanted his players to be able to hear his last-minute instructions (which NO other coach in conf. or non-conf has ever done before or since). Honestly, the root of the gripe with Scot Drew is what would other coaches do with the Baylor rosters that Drew has had? WWRD (whatwouldRoydo)? WWSD (whatwouldSelfdo)? WWID (whatwouldIzzodo)? WWBD (whatwouldBoeheimdo)? WWCD (whatwouldCaliparido)? Let me tell you: they'd have Baylor in the top10 every year, and a 2 or 3 seed in the Tourney.

Let me put it another way: when Drew gets tough players, they play tough (kind of like when Roy got Hinrich, Miles, Simien--KU became tough). But too often they have underachieved--> brilliant example is this season, right? Both OSU and Baylor were top 10 teams 6weeks ago. Baylor got beat by TxTech IN WACO.

Watch several (non-KU) Baylor games straight, and you will see a lot of what Baylor gets offensively, is by poor opposing defense and poor execution on the scouting report, and what they do defensively is usually easily countered by other well-coached, tougher teams. Baylor beating KY very early this season was more due to KY's extreme inexperience.

Hey, nobody is going to be critical of Drew for stepping into that mess at Baylor after the murder fiasco. But that was a several years ago. Just watch 10-15 games of Baylor evidence (this season will do just fine) to prove my point: Drew is a C-rated coach, and is correctly ranked in the bottom 2 or 3 of the BigXII coaches.

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Erich Hartmann 7 months ago

Suzi, my personal feel is that Drew sells the religious angle...as I have heard comments from him, most notably after Baylor won the BigXII Tourney a couple of years back when KU gave a phone-in version of effort (why do we do that?). I dont have a problem with that angle, as Self did the same when he was at OralRoberts (he alludes to it in his book), but Self doesnt work that angle at Tulsa/Illini/KU. Maybe Drew pushes it because he feels he has to cater to the Baylor alumni? It sure isnt because he is selling his coaching. Maybe he sells a "save your energy" type of defense like their "soft" version of a zone-D? He could point to a few NBA players & try to take credit. Just being mentioned in top recruit's "lists" shows there is something at work behind the scenes.

Man, I watched the OSU-Baylor game last night and sat there thinking: These were top 10 teams 6weeks ago! Now not.

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Bryce Landon 7 months ago

BU never won the Tournament. They did beat us in the tournament, but they lost to Missouri both times they made it to the finals.

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Erich Hartmann 7 months ago

Yes, Bryce, you are right, I recalled that later...thnx.

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Tony Bandle 7 months ago

Coaching List based on entire career;

One, with a bullet, Bill Self.

Tied for second, Huggy Bear, Tubby, Lonnie, The Mayor.

Sixth, Ricky, Ricky you're so fine....HEY, Rickey....HEY, Ricky!!

Tied for last, Trent [but improving], Travis, Scottie.

Worse than last, Brucie Boy!!!!!!

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Bryce Landon 7 months ago

At least Bill Self doesn't have to worry about Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid going into the stands and shoving Jeff Hors D'ouevre

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Robert Brown 7 months ago

I agree with Suzi that the Big 12 has great coaches. I do think some of the posters here are too hard and almost mean spirited when commenting about some of the other coaches in the league. Let's be honest, KU has advantages and resources that none of the other schools in the conference has. Credit Bill Self for fully turning these advantages into sustainable results. You really can't compare records-- you need to look at each school individually and then assess.

I am not going to rank, but I will comment on each:

Rick Barnes- been successful everywhere he has gone. Missed NCAA last year for the first time since at Texas. Solid coach and recruiter. Texas is someone of a lower stress job since football rules at UT. Has been rumored for some higher profile jobs in the past.

Lon Kruger-- Good coach -- good results. Not overly loyal. Clearly decided that he could not make his alma mater into a national power and left at a time before Roy Williams really established himself at KU.

Fred Hoiberg- The fact that he quickly resurrected Iowa State (I hope they beat UT tonight) and is mentioned as a future NBA coach indicates he is a good coach.

Bob Huggins- Clearly a great coach. Cincinnati was not that good when he took over. In some ways. he resurrected K-State. Since he took the job, the have been solid. WV is a tough place to win given the geographic difference with the rest of the league.

Bryce Drew- Some look at him as an Eddie Haskell type (look it up for those younger than age 40), but no one came into a worse situation than he inherited. He recruits well and his teams are usually in the NCAA. He's made the Elite Eight but typically his teams do not make a deep run. I know a lot of KU fans don't like him.

Tubby Smith- Good track record, but is he elite? He does have a national championship but it was not with his players. I think he left UK before they could replace him and I don't know what happened to make him leave Minnesota.

Bruce Webber- He is a good coach and even though I questioned his hiring by KSU, I think it will fit in well there. Illinois is a hot bed of recruiting and so every misstep was magnified. At K-State, he will have to coach up his team and he is a good coach. He was very successful at SIU. Sometimes the environment becomes toxic and it is time to sever ties and I think that is what happened at UI.

Travis Ford- Sometimes you have a bad year and maybe OSU can recover. I am not sold on him as an elite coach, but the program is in much better shape than it was when he arrived.

I don't know much about Trent Johnson. I think he got a good paycheck to come to TCU. It will probably be a tough assignment.

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Tony Bandle 7 months ago

Mr. Brown, if I am applying for a job someday, I hope you are the one reviewing my resume. You truly follow the Golden Rule.... if you can't say something nice about someone.........then find something nice to say!! It is an admirable quality.

Allow me to counterpoint: Rick Barnes can recruit for sure, but he has WWAAYY under-achieved with the talent he has had at his disposal. Lonny Kruger is a mercenary always going to where the grass..and money..is greener. Bob Huggins is an abusive bully cut in the Bobby Knight mold. Bryce Drew is a scumbag cheat who still skates by on his daddy's rep. Travis Ford is a Missouri Tiger who transferred and played for Kentucky....'nuff said. I don't have to even talk about Weber. On the other hand, Fred is for real, Tubby got screwed at UK and the jury is still out on Trent.

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Suzi Marshall 7 months ago

Now that is a contrasting Point-Counterpoint contrasting styles provided by Robert-Oak.

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Robert Brown 7 months ago

I think you are the person who tried to make an argument for an undefeated conference season by KU. Quite frankly, I think the name calling and demeaning comments tend to show some arrogance.

My point is that the Big 12 is a league of good coaches. We probably agree more than disagree. My comments about Kruger are similar to yours.But he has been successful. I think when he left KSU, he pretty much concluded he could win consistently there.

Regarding Barnes, you say he underachieved, but he almost always makes it to the tournament. Many people argue that KU underachives in the NCAA tournament and they would have a case.

You may not like Huggin's tactics, but he has over 700 wins at a school like Cincinnati which is pretty much in the shadow of UK and Ohio State and Indiana.

Just because someone attended MU or UK doesn't mean they are worthless. Again, the program is in much better shape then when he took over. He has recruited some good players and he has a win at AFH.

You don't like Weber, I get it, I bet if you are honest with yourself you would admit that he is doing a much better job you thought he would at K-State. By the way, have you checked out South Carolina's recorde lately?

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Tony Bandle 7 months ago

Robert, I do get where you are coming from and strictly based on coaching, your points are indeed valid, however the measure of a man to me is more than the W's and L's. Good coaches..yes....good guys..in some cases I don't think so. [Bill, Fred, Tubby, Rick, even Trent get a pass.......Bob, Bruce, Bryce, Lonny and Travis can take the next train out of Dodge as far as I am concerned.

I guess my criteria would be, do I want this particular gentleman coaching the Crimson and Blue. Regarding Weber, he is doing exactly as I expected...using existing talent to show good results.

However, I do have to concede to you that as the top-rated conference in America, the ten coaches, as a group, must be excelling. Thanks for the interesting responses..nicely done with providing the Jaybate insight without the Jaybate verbosity. :).

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Tony Bandle 7 months ago

KEYS TO VICTORY AGAINST TECH:

1] Pound the ball inside.

2] Pound the ball inside.

3] Pound the ball inside.

Did I mention to pound the ball inside??

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Mark Lindrud 7 months ago

Score more than they do.It would be nice if a lot of it is inside lol.

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Steve Corder 7 months ago

This week will tell if a "killer instinct" is found for a conference championship stretch run.

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Jim Stauffer 7 months ago

Some of you have fallen in love with Tubby Smith. Let me remind you, the Big Ten did also and at one time the SEC and Kentucky thought he was a jewel. That is until they realized he won that '98 title with Pitino's players and they never had those players again while Tubby was there.

If you want to know how good Tubby is, ask Kentucky and Minnesota. Weber got fired at Illinois and everyone tells us he can't coach because of that. (And they may be right) But no one wants to acknowledge that Tubby has not been able to hold a head job since Tulsa.

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Rob Byrd 7 months ago

If it hadn't been for Pierre Jackson, the 2 Quincy's, Perry Jones, and Udoh staying together for 5 years, Scott Drew would have "coached" a very talented Baylor team into mediocrity or worse, much sooner than he has. He is an excellent recruiter, but unless his teams ignore his "coaching" and "freelance" the game, then their chances of winning are greatly reduced. As big as his teams are, you would expect total physical domination in many games, but they play like their coach...soft! He has had some of the top classes in the country, and yet he has something like a .550 winning %. He brings a lot of the disrespect upon himself with his whiny and fearful personality in a lot of his interviews. It almost seems like he goes into big games EXPECTING to lose, not real inspiring for his kids to see. And Weber doesn't get a lot of respect when it comes to his stint at Illinois due to the fact that much of his success is thanks to Bill Self stocking the cupboard before he left there.

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