Smith: "I miss the players. I miss (administrative assistant) Marta McMackin. I miss the staff - Dave Hobbs, Reggie Hanson and Scott Rigot. You miss people like that. You miss people more than anything. You miss the people who helped make the program great every day. The managers, the people you know and love and who care about you and are laying it on the line on a daily basis for you.
"In this day and time, you are in touch with people on a regular basis through e-mail. I can pull up any newspaper I want on the Internet. I just Google and it is there. You are never far away. You are never gone.
"I have been back to Kentucky a few times. It was really an honor to be inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. I have received some other great honors. I do not know what I did to deserve those honors, but I am appreciative of the people in Kentucky still remembering me."
Question: Maybe it was winning that 1998 national title that people appreciate so much. Does it seem like it has been 10 years to you since that team won the title?
Smith: "I was thinking about that not that long ago. I thought we would have had two more championships. I thought the team that lost to Marquette and Dwayne Wade could have won. I thought the team that lost to Michigan State in overtime could have won. But it's not easy to win a title. I have been in coaching 34 years and they just don't give those things away.
"I know how blessed I am. But time moves fast. I can't say it was like yesterday that we won because it was a long time ago. But campers here still ask me about it. I just tell them that is the past and prefer to talk about what we are doing here. But those are memories I will always cherish, just like a lot of the memories I have from Kentucky."
Question: You have a top 20 recruiting class for 2008. Is recruiting different at Minnesota than it was at Kentucky?
Smith: "It is the same stuff. It's all about doing your homework and being within the rules to make sure you are staying on top of things. A lot of people said we could not recruit this or that at Kentucky. We had three All-Americans (Rajon Rondo, Joe Crawford and Randolph Morris) in one year and there would have been four if you added Ramel Bradley, who would have been a McDonald's All-American if he had not gone to prep school.
"It's all about chemistry. You can get the best players, but you have got to have the right players. Look at Billy Donovan. He had a bunch of All-Americans and then won a national championship without any of them. It's all about the right combination and chemistry and then being able to keep them content and playing together."
Question: What about coaching? Have you changed in any way since you left UK?
Smith: "The competition here is just as competitive. The venues you go to like Michigan State, Wisconsin or anywhere are tough. It is very balance much like the SEC. We probably are a little more spread out than the SEC from Pennsylvania to Minneapolis. There are great coaches, talented players in this league. But coaching is still about the same."