March 27th, 2013 at 8:34 PM ^

I think it's more likely that he gets to the Age 40 range and finally gets picked up by another school.  Unless VCU gets swept up in realignment and finds itself in a better basketball conference than presently.


March 27th, 2013 at 8:41 PM ^

Why not?  He's getting paid very good money to coach somewhere he should have success for a while.  He's in a league that doesn't get a ton of talent top to bottom (the top teams do OK) so he should be able to make the tourney just about every year.  He's getting $1.5MM which is not exactly chump change, and he lives somewhere he likes that has a low cost of living (relative to, say, LA if he were to go to UCLA).  

If he leaves, a team would need to offer him in the 2 mil neighborhood for him to even consider it, and he risks having less success and getting canned in a few years a la RichRod. And, if he makes another deep tourney run sometime, he can renegotiate again and ask for a few hundred grand a year more.  

I bet he stays a while.


March 27th, 2013 at 8:44 PM ^

I suppose I don't know him well enough as a person to say one way or the other.  But if he's driven by a lot of the same things that drive other coaches, he'll want to prove he can do it on the highest level at some point.  And then there are guys like Kevin Borseth who value happiness over the challenge.  Which one is Smart, I can't say - maybe he will ride it out. 


March 27th, 2013 at 11:11 PM ^

I actually went to to college with Coach Smart at Kenyon.  In 1999, as team Captain, he was selected to the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team.  One of 20 candidates selected out of 1,000.  He was a great classmate and the consumate student athlete about campus.  Class act . . . all around.  

So, I can easily see why so many of the big colleges would be looking to recruit him to coach their schools.  However, I wonder, what is is the greater accomplishment for Coach Smart?

  • Proving you can win at the highest level/biggest university, at say a school like Minnesota or UCLA?
  • Or proving you can have great accomplishments at a school like VCU, one that has historically been overlooked by our nation's basketball experts?  

Maybe it's the latter.


March 27th, 2013 at 10:13 PM ^

I'm not saying there aren't any good reasons. There are plenty of good reasons for a guy in his position to bolt.

However, he had his shot at Illinois (a plenty big name school) and he turned it down, and he doesn't seem to want to check out UCLA either. Most guys in his position bolt, but most would have already and he hasn't. He has has a number of big school opportunities, but has passed on all of them. He might change his mind in 5 years, but I'm betting he doesn't.


March 27th, 2013 at 9:55 PM ^

It doesn't fit how these things normally go. Eventually a big conference school will offer him enough money, incentives, etc for him to go. Shaka's gotta know that he can't pull in the talent to really be elite at VCU. VCU is 'elite' now by playing that crazy havoc defense but it's a cover for a talent deficieny. You can see how mediocre they are when the havoc is broken

VCU is a small, small market school. I used to live in Richmond and no one is a VCU fan. It's like if Shaka made Oakland elite. It's just a small, commuter school amidst a bunch of bigger names. Eventually, he'll see that he can get elite talent and another school and, with the right amount of cash to go with it, he'll go. I'll eat all of my Michigan t-shirts if he's still at VCU in 2023


March 27th, 2013 at 8:41 PM ^

Good coach but I'd be hesitant to give him a shot at a major conference job.  He's a system coach, and as we well know around here (granted, in football), systems don't always translate well from one league to another, particulary the B1G since it has fairly distinctive styles in both major sports. 

Out of the big conferences, PAC 12 would seem to be the best fit for HAVOC, so I wonder if he'll eventually regret turning down UCLA.   


March 27th, 2013 at 9:06 PM ^

Labeling him a "system coach" is short sighted and poor analysis.  He has effectively maximized the talent available to him and greatly improved the performance of the program since he has been there.  

I remember people saying exactly the same thing about Belien and they were obviously wrong.  Good coaches use what they have and that is what Smart.  He would do well in the Big Ten and any conference in my opinion.

snarling wolverine

March 27th, 2013 at 9:25 PM ^

He has effectively maximized the talent available to him and greatly improved the performance of the program since he has been there.

Not true, actually. His predecessor, Anthony Grant, went 76-25 (.752) and won three consecutive conference titles in his three years. Smart has posted almost exactly the same winning percentage (.753) in his four years (going 111-36), but has never won a conference title. The 2011 tourney run is where Smart made his reputation.

Zvornik Bosna

March 28th, 2013 at 9:37 AM ^

Smart won the CAA conference title in 2012, so he did win one. Other than that he reached the final against St. Louis in his first year in the A10 and the final against ODU his first year in the CAA. Grant actually only won twice. VCU is also one of 8 teams in the country to win at least one tournament game each of the past three years. Also, improving performance does not always just come down to winning percentage. The program has reached heights that Grant never took it to. 


March 28th, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

If Smart's Wikipedia page is correct, his team finished 2nd in the CAA in 2011-12.



Anthony Grant OTOH finished first in all three years he was there:



Bottom line: VCU has been good at basketball for some time now.  Under Grant they were a monster in the regular season and under Smart they've had tournament success.  The question is how much of their success is due to the school itself.  Grant hasn't done too much at Alabama (0-1 in the NCAA tournament in four years) and his VCU predecessor, Jeff Capel, was canned at Oklahoma.



Zvornik Bosna

March 28th, 2013 at 7:57 PM ^

for the regular season. I am talking about performance at the conference tournaments. No one remembers who won the regular season title. As to your other point, VCU started to invest heavily into basketball under Grant. The school is giving coaches what they need to succeed. Credit is given to coaches and institutions in this case in my opinion.


March 27th, 2013 at 10:01 PM ^

I don't really understand this "system coach" business. A lot of good coaches had systems. Knight ran the same passing-game offense for decades. Wooden's offense is so well known that probably half the high school teams in the country have a high-post play they call "UCLA". Dean Smith wrote books on his system (an eclectic one to be sure). John Chaney and his matchup zone, Boeheim's particular style of 2-3, Huggins with his half-court trap and teams that can't shoot. Izzo's teams are recognizably Izzo's, K's teams are recognizably Duke. I'm having trouble thinking of anyone that was successful over a long period of time and couldn't be said to have a system of one sort or another.

Good coaches have strengths that they coach to and recruit to and that give their program a focus. Often it's something tactical, sometimes (like Calipari) it's a system of player selection/recruitment/management. But there's something that distinguishes them, and their teams.

snarling wolverine

March 27th, 2013 at 10:19 PM ^

My concern is not that he runs a system, but more that his particular system might always be feast-or-famine.  He isn't known for halfcourt offense, or defense, or rebounding.  He's known for full-court pressure, which can cause undisciplined teams a lot of trouble but shouldn't bother the more disciplined ones.   As noted above, he's never won a conference title.  His 2011 team actually lost 12 games that year.  It caught fire in the tourney - not just on D but shooting 3's - but that may have been a one-time fluke.  (A lot of the guys on that team were also not recruited by Smart, but by Grant.)




snarling wolverine

March 27th, 2013 at 10:57 PM ^

I knew someone was going to bring up Pitino.  The press is just one thing Pitino is known for.  He's also been an offensive innovator.  He was one of the first coaches to take advantage of the 3-pointer by designing a motion offense that would extend defenses further out that most coaches had done previously.  He's distinguished himself as a halfcourt coach.  He's never been so reliant on the press that you could just look at his opponent's turnover total and know instantly whether he won or lost, as you can in pretty much any game Smart coaches.







March 27th, 2013 at 9:42 PM ^

If Smart is on our radar down the road, I hope he coaches somewhere else first.  I want to see that he can succeed away from VCU.  That school has been strong for a decade now, under Jeff Capel, Anthony Grant and now Smart.  Perhaps that school has some natural advantages relative to its A-10 competition, because Capel and Grant really haven't distinguished themselves since leaving for bigger programs (Capel got fired at Oklahoma and is back being an assistant; Grant has been merely OK at Alabama).





March 27th, 2013 at 10:42 PM ^

I'm of two minds about this. There were definitely people in the Minnesota program who thought they could get Smart, but it wasn't such a sure thing that they hung everything on it. I just think they believe they can do better than Tubby, and given how the B1G is this year, maybe they're right. There is no reason Minnesota shouldn't compete with the top of the conference, not when teams like Marquette can perennially compete in the Big Easy, and Butler can push the Sweet Sixteen every year.

Anyway, I don't think this is idiocy on anywhere near the same scale as the trade of Glen Mason for Tim Brewster.

Flip Saunders is an option. Watch for more talk like that.


March 27th, 2013 at 8:39 PM ^

It's hard to say, he's been pretty open about not feeling a need to leave VCU and he may feel that his system works best at a mid-major and that's where he will have the most success.  It;s a weird thing how the two hottest coaching candidates for awhile now, Smart and Stevens, both appear to be in no rush to leave where they are.  I think UCLA's search isn't going to go very well.

R Kelly

March 27th, 2013 at 9:29 PM ^

UNC will stay inside the Carolina family too.  Roy has a few young assistants who have recently moved on to other head coaching jobs.  I have also heard speculation that Hubert Davis could may be a possibility if he is ready when the time comes.


March 28th, 2013 at 3:46 AM ^

So UCLA isn't good enough, but somehow Duke or UNC are??? There isn't a beter job than UCLA. There are different jobs, but none that are "better". the dude is staying put. I hate to say this, but what a lame decision. If his wife leaves him, I wouldn't blame her. He has cemented himself as a has-been.


March 27th, 2013 at 8:50 PM ^

It's nice seeing a coach stick with a small program like that. I'm not sure if he has some sort of external motivation for it, but if not, what a wonderful thing for him and VCU. Much respect!



March 27th, 2013 at 8:56 PM ^

UCLA unknowingly dodge a bullet.  Shaka's D is a gimmick.  Legit teams (like Michigan) shred Shaka's D.  RichRod's O = Shaka's D.  UCLA cannot get back to the golden-days with a coach like Shaka.  Shaka's style fits smaller schools.


March 27th, 2013 at 9:45 PM ^

Pitino does pretty well with the press and Arkansas almost won back to back championships with it.  I'm sure there are kids that don't want to play in that kind of system, but I wouldn't call it a gimmick.


March 27th, 2013 at 8:56 PM ^

Craploads of money and long term job security, or more craploads of money and almost zero job security.  To me it's a no brainer, but to each his own I suppose. 


March 27th, 2013 at 8:57 PM ^

I would be upset if Michigan ever hired Shaka.  On top of being a system coach, you have to wonder why he hides in the mid-major instead of trying to compete at the highest level.  He must not have much confidence in himself.


March 27th, 2013 at 9:18 PM ^

Many coaches want to move up the line to bigger schools, conferences or dream jobs. Some even want to get o the pro level. Others just want to coach and may value a particular school or city.

We make the same mistake with players. Not all of them are in a big hurry to get to the league, some of them value the education or the experience.


March 27th, 2013 at 9:29 PM ^

This whole comment is terrible.

I mean, I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't have much confidence in themselves after making it to the Final Four.  Hell, I'd wager Brad Stevens has to see a shrink 3 times a week; back-to-back National Championships? He must be a head-case.


March 27th, 2013 at 8:58 PM ^

I find this a bit perplexing on both sides, but great news for those who admire loyalty as a character trait.  VCU is paying Smart a lot more money than schools that are barely mid-majors have a reputation for paying, and Smart is sticking around a lot longer than coaches in his situation usually do.  

Congrats to both for giving fans one less reason to be cynical.


March 27th, 2013 at 9:03 PM ^

Thats odd. Surprised he's not jumping to a better school. With that said, even after this contract is over he'll still be a relatively young coach. (Not to mention if he gets a great deal his contract could be bought out)


March 27th, 2013 at 9:03 PM ^

Didn't Minnesota offer something ridiculous, like 3 years/$21Million? I'm all for loyalty, but if that figure is accurate, Smart is nuts for not taking it. Even though he makes good money ($1.5M/yr at VCU), he'd have to work 14 years to earn what he could have made in 3 at Minnesota.