It’s been a trying season for Tubby Smith and his Gophers men’s basketball team. Once ranked in the top 10, a four-game losing streak had the maroon and gold plummeting in the polls. But thanks partly to point guard and leading scorer Andre Hollins, Tubby’s team is hanging tough at No. 18 in the latest AP rankings. Last weekend the sophomore stud helped his team to a much-needed win over Iowa, dropping 15 points and eight assists. The day before the game, we caught up with the 20-year-old Tennessean — who passed on a Harvard scholarship — to talk b-ball, books and barbecue.
Q: When you’re running the point as an underclassman, is it hard being a leader?
A: Yeah, you have to earn your respect — being tough mentally. You’ve got to be reliable and dependable and have your teammates trust you. They trust me to call the plays and that I’ll make the right decisions. [But] age isn’t that big of a deal on the court.
Q: How were you trying to pick the team up during the four-game skid?
A: When you’re down you always have to stay positive. We had some disappointing losses and we beat ourselves. The upside to that is that we knew what we did wrong. We’re back on track, working harder in practice, getting chippy, because that’s what it takes.
Q: Did Mom and Dad freak when you passed on Harvard?
A: We weighed all the options. Of course it’s a premier academic school, but at the same time I was looking at basketball also. Playing against [Big Ten] competition makes me a better player. The University of Minnesota’s a great school — Carlson School of Management is where I’m going.
Q: Is Carlson as tough as they ...
A: Yes! Yes, it is. I have so much reading to do.
Q: Post-basketball, what do you want to do with that degree?
A: I’m not sure yet. I actually had an academic meeting yesterday and I have to declare my major by April. It might be finance or marketing.
Q: As a Tennessee guy, are you missing that Southern cooking?
A: Oh, yeah. I’m missing it a lot. My mom’s cooking, the barbecue — I love it. This is the first time I’ve said this, I’m not used to the cold right now. It’s got me. I’m kind of shook about the cold right now!