Smith has big plans for UK basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Tubby Smith expects to carry on the winning tradition at Kentucky.
“There’s no reason we can’t be as successful and to maintain this level of excellence that has already been established over the years with this great tradition,” he said after being named Monday to succeed Rick Pitino as Kentucky’s coach.
Smith’s inherits a program that reached the NCAA Final Four three times in the past five years, winning the title in 1996 and finishing runner-up this year. Kentucky has won six national championships in its storied history.
“I hope we can reach those expectations,” said Smith, who has coached the past two seasons at Georgia. “Coach Pitino set the bar pretty high.”
Smith planned to meet with returning players in the next few days to let them know what he expects of them.
“My philosophy is based on love, family and discipline,” he said. “I’ll challenge them to raise the bar another level and work even harder than they have in the past.”
Smith received a five-year contract, but financial terms were not disclosed. However, he reportedly would increase his salary from the $605,280 he would have received at Georgia next season to more than $1 million.
“He was the only candidate that we interviewed,” UK president Charles T. Wethington Jr. said before the UK Athletics Association approved the appointment. “He is truly the choice of this administration for the filling of this position of basketball coach.”
Smith, who is black, downplayed the race issue in taking over one of the most visible programs in the nation.
“It’s more important that I be judged on … the content of my character than the color of my skin. But I realize that it is important. Just like I mentioned to everyone that is a Kentucky Wildcat fan, there are blacks that also are interested and excited because I am a black head coach.”