Set to begin his 31st season as a head coach, and third in the return to his alma mater, Billy Tubbs has wasted little time in turning around the tradition-rich Lamar basketball program.
The Cardinals showed remarkable improvement in 2004-05, posting an 18-11 record and advancing to the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament in just his second year.
Lamar led the conference and ranked eighth in the NCAA in scoring at 80.6 points per game. The Cardinals also ranked 38th in the NCAA in steals (8.8 pg) and 40th in blocked shots (4.6 pg).
Last year also marked another coaching milestone for Tubbs, who ranks eighth among the Top 10 active coaches in NCAA history. Tubbs became just the ninth coach in NCAA history to record 100 wins at three different schools (Oklahoma-333, TCU-156 and Lamar-104). He reached the milestone in Lamar's 85-68 win over Texas-San Antonio on Feb. 5, 2005.
The 2005-06 team returns nine letterwinners and four starters, which accounted for 70 percent of the scoring and 84 percent of the rebounding from last year's squad. Those returning players, coupled with another stellar recruiting class, have the Cardinals poised for a run at the conference championship.
Having built a reputation of building programs through recruiting and an exciting brand of basketball, Tubbs and his coaching staff had their first full recruiting class ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation by Clark Francis of HoopScoop Online, which was the nucleus of last year's team that posted the most wins by a Lamar team since the 1987-88 season.
In six years at Lamar, Tubbs has a 104-75 (.581) overall and 45-27 (.625) conference record.
During the 2003-04 season, Tubbs became the 28th coach in NCAA Division I history to record 600 career wins in Lamar's 79-67 win over Texas Southern.
Ten months into his tenure as director of athletics at Lamar University, Tubbs added men's basketball coach to his title, Lamar President James Simmons announced at a news conference on March 20, 2003.
Coaching is a role he is delighted to take again, Tubbs said to the standing-room only crowd upon returning to the sidelines. "I am delighted, and I am happy, and I am excited about coaching," Tubbs said of the expanding role that he calls a service to his alma mater.
"I came back (to Lamar) as a service, and that really is what I feel like I'm doing right now. It's a service I enjoy. I feel like this is another way to serve Lamar University. It's a tremendous challenge - as big a challenge as I've ever had - but I'm going into it full speed."
Tubbs set a high bar for the program: "It needs to be winning the conference on a yearly basis and going to the NCAA playoffs. Those are very, very realistic goals.
"It's not exactly new territory, but then again it is," Tubbs said of coaching the Cardinals again. "Our aim is to win. I know we've got a lot of work to do with a very young team. I'm very confident we're going to give it a great shot, and we're going to make basketball at Lamar University a lot of fun.
"We're going to play hard. We're going to play with a lot of energy. We're going to play with a lot of emotion. And we're going to play without fear of anybody. There will be no team that we'll step on the floor with that we'll be in awe of. We'll be ready to play. So it's going to be fun."
When asked how long he intends to coach Tubbs said, "As long as I want to. I don't want to put any time limit on it. I want to get this program going in the right direction.
"The only thing I can tell you for sure is that if I'm not winning, I'm not coaching, and I'm gonna fire me. I've got that going for me," Tubbs said referring to his continuing job as AD.
Tubbs, who had spent 18 years as a player, assistant coach, head coach and faculty member at Lamar University, returned to his alma mater as director of athletics May 27, 2002. Tubbs is set to continue an already highly successful head coaching career that has spanned 30 years with a career record of 624-326 (.657). His 624 career wins ranks 43rd all-time in NCAA history, and his .657 career winning percentage ranks 78th all-time.
He has led teams to 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, six National Invitation Tournament appearances, eight conference championships, three conference tournament championships and 18 20-win seasons. He has been named conference coach of the year eight times and is a two-time national coach of the year.
Tubbs' most recent coaching stint was eight years at Texas Christian University, where he guided the Horned Frogs to a 156-95 (.622) record. He took TCU to one NCAA Tournament and a pair of NITs, and earned Southwest Conference (1995) and Western Athletic Conference (1998) coach of the year honors.
Prior to TCU, Tubbs spent 14 years as the head coach at the University of Oklahoma. He led the Sooners to the NCAA championship game in 1988 and posted a 333-132 (.716) record. He took OU to nine NCAA Tournaments and four NITs during his tenure, including a streak of six straight "Sweet 16" appearances from 1985-90. He was named Big Eight coach of the year four times (1984, 1985, 1988, 1989) and earned Basketball Weekly National Coach of the Year honors in 1983 and 1985.
Tubbs gained national attention during his four-year coaching stint at Lamar from 1976-80. He guided the Cardinals to a 75-46 (.620) record and the school's first two NCAA Tournament appearances. Lamar posted a 23-9 record in 1978-79, won the Southland Conference championship, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament where the Cardinals upset Detroit in the first round before losing to eventual national champion Michigan State in the second round.
A year later, the Cardinals went 22-11, won another SLC championship, and advanced to the Sweet 16 (third round) of the NCAA Tournament with wins over Weber State and No. 5-ranked Oregon State before losing to Clemson. He twice (1978 and 1980) earned SLC Coach of the Year honors.
Tubbs began his head coaching career at Southwestern University, where he posted a 31-24 (.564) record over two years.
Born in St. Louis, Mo. and raised in Tulsa, Okla., Tubbs was a two-year letterman at Lamar for coach Jack Martin. He began his coaching career as Martin's assistant coach from 1960-71. He was a three-year basketball letterman at Tulsa's Central High School and played at Lon Morris College, where he helped the Bearcats to the National Junior College semifinals.
An avid jogger and golfer, he recorded his first hole-in-one in July 1995. The president and CEO of B.T., Inc., Tubbs is a supporter of many charitable causes and has served as chairman of numerous organizations, including the Cleveland County (Okla.) American Cancer Society, Fun-Run Scholarship and America's Love Run for Muscular Dystrophy. He and his wife, the former Pat Ousley, served consecutive terms as Chairpersons for the Oklahoma American Cancer Society.
Billy and Pat Tubbs have two children, Tommy, who played two seasons at point guard for his dad at Oklahoma (1983-85) and was an assistant coach at Lamar, and Taylor, a former head pom-pom for the Sooner cagers. Tommy and his wife, Ann, are the parents of two daughters, Hannah Marie and Katie. Taylor and her husband, former Sooner split end Carl Cabbiness, are the parents of a daughter, Callie, and three sons, Trey, Cale and Cason.