Smart speaks with an official in a game in November, 2013
April 8, 1977 |
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|California (PA) (asst.)
Dayton (dir. of basketball ops.)
|Accomplishments and honors|
CBI Tournament Champions (2010)
Regional Championships – Final Four (2011)
Shaka Smart (born April 8, 1977) is an American college basketball coach, and the head coach of the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams men's basketball program. Before accepting the job at VCU, Smart served as an assistant coach for the Akron Zips, Clemson Tigers, and Florida Gators men's basketball programs.
In high school, Smart was a three-year starter for Oregon High School in Wisconsin. He was a second-team All-Badger Conference pick as a senior and by the end of his career was the all-time assists leader at Oregon for a career (458), season (201) and single game (20).
After graduating from high school, Smart attended Kenyon College, a liberal arts school in Ohio. On the ESPN program Pardon the Interruption, Smart credited his personal relationship with then head coach Bill Brown as the reason for his decision. As a member of the Kenyon College basketball team, he was an all-conference selection as a senior and is the school's career assists leader (542). Smart was named a member of the 1999 USA TODAY All-USA Academic Team.
Smart began his coaching career in 1999 as an assistant at California University of Pennsylvania, where he also earned a Master's Degree. Afterwards, he was hired as Director of Basketball Operations at the University of Dayton. He was then an assistant at the University of Akron for three years, Clemson for two, and Florida for one.
VCU hired Smart to be the head coach in the spring of 2009 after the program's previous coach, Anthony Grant, left to become the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team. Smart's hire made him the 10th-youngest head coach in Division I. In his first season, he led the Rams to a 27–10 season and a CBI Championship after VCU swept Saint Louis in the championship best-of-three series.
Smart's second season began with forward Larry Sanders declaring for the 2010 NBA Draft after his junior season. Sanders' selection by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 15th pick made VCU the first school in the Commonwealth of Virginia to have a player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in consecutive years, as the Utah Jazz had selected guard Eric Maynor with the 20th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. The Rams under Smart went 23–11 in the 2010–2011 season. Smart led the Rams to their second consecutive Colonial Athletic Association Championship Game, where they lost to Old Dominion.
Despite not securing the automatic bid, VCU earned an at-large bid to the Southwest region of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, but were placed in the "First Four" against USC for a spot in the main 64-team tournament bracket. The Rams' selection into the tournament was widely criticized. His coaching strategy, positive outlook, and patience helped VCU defeat USC in the First Four, and then upset the 6th-seeded Georgetown Hoyas and 3rd-seeded Purdue Boilermakers to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. VCU won 72–71 against Florida State University in overtime to earn the school's first spot in the Elite Eight and subsequently upset the top-seeded University of Kansas 71–61 for its first Final Four appearance. But in the Final Four, the Rams lost to Butler 70-62.
On January 19, 2013, Shaka Smart became the second youngest coach to win 100 games, in a 90-63 victory over Duquesne.
Style of play
Smart's teams play an upbeat style of basketball known as "havoc." Smart described his "havoc" defensive philosophy during his introductory press conference as, "We are going to wreak havoc on our opponent's psyche and their plan of attack." On the court, the "havoc" defensive mindset is visible through the heavy use of the full court press and pressing after made baskets to disrupt opponents' timing of offensive sets. In each of Smart's three seasons, the Rams have consistently maintained one of the most efficient and disruptive defenses in the nation, ranking 31st in Steals Per Game and 17th in Turnover Margin his first season and 1st nationally in both categories his second and third seasons as head coach. Offensively, Smart-coached teams play uptempo, push the ball after misses, and have with what Smart describes as "the freedom to make plays in the open court."
Smart's given name was bestowed in honor of the famous Zulu warrior. He graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon with a degree in History, researching and writing on issues related to race and the Great Migration his junior and senior years. Smart received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and earned a master's degree in social science at California University of Pennsylvania. He developed a love for quotations at Kenyon. Smart began writing down quotes into a digital document that is now over 110 pages long. He also likes nature documentaries featuring big cats.
Smart has been married to Maya Payne, a professional writer and an alumna of both Harvard University and Northwestern University, since 2006. Their child, Zora Sanae Smart, was born on September 25, 2011.
Smart's half-brother is the writer and professor, J.M. Tyree.
Head coaching record
|VCU Rams (Colonial Athletic Association) (2009–2012)|
|2010–11||VCU||28–12||12–6||4th||NCAA Final Four|
|2011–12||VCU||29–7||15–3||2nd||NCAA Third Round|
|VCU Rams (Atlantic 10 Conference) (2012–present)|
|2012–13||VCU||27–9||12–4||2nd||NCAA Third Round|
|VCU:||114–37 (.755)||50–20 (.714)|
National champion Conference regular season champion Conference tournament champion
- "Shaka Smart to remain at VCU". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
- ESPN.com news services (March 31, 2009). "Smart chosen as new VCU coach". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
- "Shaka Smart". University Athletic Assoc., Inc., Sun Sports & IMG College. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
- "Player Bio: Shaka Smart – Clemson University Official Athletic Site". Clemsontigers.cstv.com. May 20, 2006. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
- "NCAA men's basketball: Ex-Oregon athlete Shaka Smart guides VCU past Georgetown". Host.madison.com. March 18, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
- Shaka Smart. "VCU Athletics". VCU Athletics. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
- Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Saint Louis Billikens - Recap - March 31, 2010 - ESPN
- DeCourcy, Mike. "Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year contract with VCU". Sporting News. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=6290035 Shaka Smart has deal to remain at Virginia Commonwealth - ESPN]
- http://www.timesdispatch.com/sports/college/vcu/vcu-blowout-gives-smart-th-win/article_b5ad542a-62a5-11e2-85a7-0019bb30f31a.html VCU blowout gives Smart 100th win
- Branch, John (March 26, 2011). "Coach Shaka Smart Has Become V.C.U.'s Brightest Star". The New York Times.
- Illinois Fighting Illini targeting VCU Rams coach Shaka Smart, according to source - ESPN Chicago
- "EXCLUSIVE: Coach Smart Is Going To Be a Father" Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Tyree, J.M. (25 March 2011). "Shaka Smart, VCU: What it's like being related to the hottest name in March Madness Slate Magazine". Slate. Retrieved 27 March 27 2011.
- Wise, Scott (6 May 2012). "Shaka Smart: “I support President Obama”". WTVR. Retrieved 6 May 2012.