The hiring of Smith marks quite a change for the Tigers’ program, as the coach in many ways is the opposite of Pastner. Smith comes into Memphis with one of the more impressive resumes in college basketball: 557 career wins, 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, seven conference titles, five conference tournament titles, and of course a National Championship (Kentucky, 1998) to his name. He earned AP, Naismith and NABC Coach of the Year honors in 2003 while still in Lexington and just this past season was named Big 12 Coach of the Year after leading Texas Tech to their first NCAA Tournament since Bob Knight was in charge.
Memphis has missed the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons under Pastner, who’s tenure started quickly but eventually ended in mediocrity. Pastner proved to be an effective recruiter, but the on-the-court results often failed to live up to expectations.
Tubby Smith has been sort of the opposite, a strong recruiter in his own right but an effective tactician with the talent he’s had. He brings along a definite change in culture, something that the Memphis program can certainly benefit from. It will be interesting to see who Smith hires to fill out his staff, as he has stuck with the same three assistants since his Minnesota days. Already asked about it today, Smith expressed interest in local favorite and Memphis alum Penny Hardaway as a potential addition to his staff.