Smith Introduced at Minnesota, Receives Warm Welcome

By: Reuters
By: Reuters

Tubby Smith, introduced as the new basketball coach of the University of Minnesota on Friday, vowed to turn the moribund program into a winner.

"We're going to develop a championship program here," Smith said at Williams Arena. "It's not going to be easy. I know all the coaches in the Big Ten. We're always going to be friends.

"But when it comes between these lines, it's going to be competitive. Expectations are going to be high. We know it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to reach those goals."

Smith resigned on Thursday as coach of Kentucky, one of the nation's most high-profile programs. He was 263-83 during his 10 years there and won the national title in 1998.

Expectations at Kentucky are unrivaled and Smith's job status was always the subject of talk-radio debates. He denied, however, that had he buckled under the criticism.

"I didn't spend a lot of time reading and listening to it," he said. "I was too busy trying to win basketball games. We're not running from anything. We're running to a great program.

"I'm very proud of the record and the accomplishments we've had at Kentucky. I think history will point that out."

Smith captured five Southeastern Conference titles and reached the final eight at the NCAA Tournament four times at Kentucky. He enters a program that was 9-22 this past season.

The 55-year-old Smith compared the Minnesota job to his other coaching stops at Tulsa, Georgia and Kentucky.

"Goals and expectations are the same," he said. "Everybody wants to win, and win championships."

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