Question: How is life in Minnesota and how did you enjoy your first year with the Gophers?
Smith: "I couldn't have planned it any better if we had been trying to plan a move, ... which I didn't because we didn't have big plans when we left. We had no plans to leave Kentucky. Things do change. There is life and things happen. I knew it was time to make a change in my life. It has been great. It has been fun. It has been invigorating.
"The people here appreciate me coming from Kentucky to coach at Minnesota. Anyone who would leave the Kentucky program for any reason, people here appreciate that. We all have to make decisions. They are all different. Donna and I felt we contributed a lot to the bluegrass and sometimes we want to share with other people. There is another way to touch lives and it has been wonderful here. I could not have scripted it any better from an administrative standpoint, or player standpoint. We are not perfect and it is not all hunky-dory, but it's pretty good."
Question: Another season will start soon without Bill Keightley. What are your thoughts on Bill and how much will Kentucky basketball miss him?
Smith: "Wow. I don't think I can put a value on what he meant and what he will mean always to Kentucky. It was not just basketball, but to Kentucky athletics. He had such a vast knowledge of that institution and how it works. You can't put a value on that experience or tradition or linking past with present. I think he is a guy that I hope got all his memoirs done because I know he was doing some from a few years ago. He has such valuable knowledge that people need to read and appreciate. Before I left, I started talking to him about getting somebody to come in and do the equipment room so he could just be in charge of recording the history he knew. I said, 'You can catalogue all the media guides and add your knowledge for the whole athletic department. You can have your own office and staff.' But he wanted to keep doing all the work he was already doing.
"He could share in a way that really informed you without giving away secrets about the program. There were some things coaches could not talk about, or wouldn't talk about, he could put in a way you could understand and tell you how kids would be without telling any secrets. I miss his advice, too. He was great to talk to."
Question: There has been a lot of attention lately about not recruiting young players. How do you balance that with getting kids to camp early and also not falling behind in recruiting?
Smith: "You have these camps to expose kids to your program. You are not just recruiting for basketball, but for the university. We have kids from Belgium, California, Texas, Nevada and other places in camp. They come from all over, just like they do at Kentucky.
"I know there is one kid I was talking to Billy (Gillispie) about (that committed to UK) that had been in camp two or three years at UK. I told him I would do the same thing. I can appreciate a parent knowing his or her son has been offered a scholarship at the University of Kentucky. It does not get much better than that. You are getting your education paid for. I love what he is doing. It is a tough call on that early recruiting.
"The thing is, can you honestly say a player will be able to play for you in four years? At the same time there was an uproar about inviting seventh- and eighth-grade players to an all-American camp. Combine that with the college presidents trying to change academics and make sure kids are qualified (academically) and there was a lot of incentive to do something (about early commitments). When you combine the culture at this juncture, that is why there was such a move made by the coaches' association."