LUBBOCK, Texas —
Instead, he more resembled the guy who was fired at Kentucky, a hard-driving coach who had a difficult time connecting with the players he inherited. Several players from Gillispie’s inaugural and lone season in West Texas left the program and complained to athletic director Kirby Hocutt about how Gillispie treated them.
There were some secondary NCAA violations for exceeding practice times and it all led to the Red Raiders finishing 8-23 and winning just one Big 12 game in 2011-12, the program’s worst season since 1990-91.
Gillispie stepped down in September, citing health reasons after two stays in the hospital. Walker, an assistant at several schools for 17 years, led Texas Tech to an improved season but the Houston native’s lack of experience as a head coach likely worked against him.
Smith won a national title and five Southeastern Conference championships with Kentucky before the demanding Wildcat faithful pushed him to leave for Minnesota in 2007. Smith, who was replaced at Kentucky by Gillispie, has also taken Tulsa and Georgia to the round of 16.
Now he’ll try to do it one more time at Texas Tech, where he now succeeds Gillispie.
Krawczynski reported from Minneapolis.