January 30, 2008

the NEW Golden Gopher Era - Part 6

The NEW Golden Gopher Era - Part 6 of 8

What can we define as success in the short term for Tubby Smith?

I wanted to get back to this little series I started last spring. A quick recap...

2007 was certainly a turning point for Gopher sports. The hiring of Tim Brewster and Tubby Smith are going to be looked at as the defining hires by AD Joel Maturi. I think the Tubby hire may go down as one of the best coaching moves in the University's history. Clearly the Brewster hire has been suspect, but it will forever be tied to Maturi's name.

Intro - Turning point for Gopher FB and BB
Part 1 - What can we expect in 2007? - FB
Part 2 - What can we define as success (short term) - FB
Part 3 - How quickly can we win a Big Ten title? - FB
Part 4 - What are the long term expectations for success? - FB
Part 5 - What can we expect in 2007-08? - BB

As I looked back on what I wrote, I was rather wrong on the short term success of the football team. So far my early thoughts on this season's basketball season have been fairly accurate. I should have put my thoughts on Part 6 down much earlier but I am taking the time now.

By most standards this season could already be considered a success. We have surpassed last season's win total (which was done before the new year). That is not why this season has been a success.

This season can already be noted in the history books as successful for the following reasons...

1. Totally Irrelevant ---> Hottest Ticket in Town. Season ticket sales are significantly higher, attendance is up and national TV appearances are up as well. In fact early in the season when the Gophers were hosting national powers like Army, Central Michigan and South Dakota State attendance was up 1,500 from a year ago. That translates into real dollars for the athletic department. National TV appearances are up to 6 this year from 3 a year ago. By this measure even if the team loses the remainder of their season it has been a success.

2. Just Win Baby - Last year was forgettable (kind of like the football season) as they amassed 9 wins, 3 of those coming in conference and ending on a 9 game losing streak. This season so far has seen the team surpass last year's win total before Christmas. The Big Ten season may not be as kind as the soft non conference schedule but they should manage to finish near .500 in league play which is a giant success when remember how bad it was a year ago.

3. Get to a tournament - At this point the NCAA's seem out of reach, but the NIT will certainly be there and we should be able to have some success. This is getting ahead of ourselves but considering where things were a year ago playing games after the Big Ten Tourney is a success.

4. Ever heard of Gopher Basketball? - All of a sudden Minnesota Basketball is a recognizable name. Recruits who would otherwise have thrown the letter away now is calling back. Tubby is bringing in a top 20 (probably top 15) recruiting class and none are from Minnesota, and only one who shares a border with MN (2 if you count Canada I guess, but that's international).
  • Ralph Sampson III - Atlanta, GA
  • Devoe Joseph - Canada
  • Paul Carter - Missouri
  • Devron Bostick - Illinois
  • Colten Iverson - South Dakota
The fact that Tubby is able to bring a recruiting class that is getting national attention makes his hire a total success. Now that doesn't do much for defining this season's success but it will pay off almost immediately as the names above will be key names next season.

Of this little series this was the easiest to write. Maybe it helps to write it half way through the season, but I think the writing was on the wall for Tubby to succeed and succeed quickly.

Up Next: How quickly can Tubby win a Big Ten title?


NYC Gopher said...

I think this season is far from successful in the eyes of coach Smith. Remember, this is a man who has never had a losing season or been sent home early without going to the NCAA Tournament. You'd better beleive his kids are under intense pressure to keep the streak alive!

Tom said...

agreed, but take yourself back several months. Would getting 16 wins (give or take), getting into NIT and bringing in a highly ranked recruiting class be considered successful?

Of course Tubby expects more but you can only squeeze so much from this talent. And in the near future this season won't be considered successful, but for now I think it is.

From the Barn said...

From the start I've said I would be happy with an NIT home game, and right now we are on pace for that. I'm as guilty as anyone getting caught up in the hype after the Penn State game. I still think this team would have been capable of making the NCAA tournament (barring a miracle they aren't now). A lot of flukie things could have made up for the small deficits in their MSU and Indiana losses, and had the ball bounced right more often than not, they would be just inside the bubble. I'll still be happy with 17 or 18 wins, but I didn't think getting there would be so frustrating.