Jun 20, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
Mark Few didn’t put Gonzaga on the map.
That award probably belongs to Dan Monson, who led the Zags to within a game of the Final Four in 1999 before leaving for Minnesota and opening the door for Few to take the program over. If it wasn’t Monson, it was probably John Stockton, who remains by far the most famous hoopster to come out of the program.
What Few did, however, was arguably more impressive. He turned Gonzaga from a flash-in-the-pan Cinderella story into one of the nation’s strongest basketball programs despite playing in the tiny West Coast Conference. They’ve been to the NCAA tournament in each of Few’s 14 seasons at the helm, winning 12 WCC regular season titles and 10 tournament titles along the way.
The Zags are now a powerhouse. Spokane is a college hoops hotbed.
The same can be said for Brad Stevens and Butler. The Bulldogs had more of a basketball tradition when Stevens took over than Gonzaga did when Few took over — Barry Collier, Thad Matta and Todd Lickliter all turned postseason trips into high major jobs — but Butler has reached a different level under Stevens. They made back-to-back national title games. They compete for some of the best recruits in the country. Butler’s ascended to the Big East and is arguably one of the top 20 programs in America.
The key to that success, for both Gonzaga and Butler, can be tied to keeping the right coach in place.
Stevens and Few both could have left for higher profile jobs and decided to stay.
That’s exactly what VCU is hoping is in the cards with their hotshot young head coach Shaka Smart. And the good news for Rams fans is that it sounds like Smart is sticking around for the long haul:
“I’ve always said, I think that there is an overly simplistic view of when people leave and go somewhere else. They’re all about being greedy and all about money, and all about going to the highest level. On the flip side, if someone stays, they’re the most loyal person in the world,” he said.
“I’m the same as you or anyone else in that I want to work at a place where I really enjoy it,” he said, a view he’s uttered many times. “I want to take care of my family just like everyone else does. I want to work with people that are fun to be around. I’m just fortunate that I have that at VCU.”
It’s not just about the money for Smart, although getting a raise and a seven-figure payday for being good at his job certainly doesn’t hurt.
He likes his job. He likes the people he works with and the kids he coaches. He likes where he lives. His family is happy.
More importantly, he knows that he doesn’t need to take a bigger job with more expectations to be able to have a nationally relevant program. He’s made the Final Four. His program moved into the Atlantic 10 and may still snag an invite into the new Big East. He’s consistently in the top 25. He can recruit against and land kids that are pursued by bigger programs.
Why would he bother leaving?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
May 4, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
Boise State might have found some production in its backcourt to help replace Derrick Marks.
May 4, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
Quinn Cook had plenty of ups and downs at Duke and this senior speech caps it all off.
May 4, 2015, 7:55 PM EDT
San Diego State landed a top-100 player in the 2016 class on Monday night.
Report: Former Clemson guard Rod Hall has interest from multiple NFL teams; college football also an option
May 4, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
Former Clemson point guard Rod Hall has some decisions to make regarding his future in football.
Four-star Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson will take a mission trip before playing college basketball
May 4, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT
Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson is a unique recruit because of a two-year mission he plans on taking after high school.
May 4, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
Seton Hall picked up a potential impact guard as a transfer.
May 4, 2015, 4:01 PM EDT
Anderson was completely off-base in his criticisms.
May 4, 2015, 3:18 PM EDT
It was a Terry Rozier-themed birthday part. Awesome.
May 4, 2015, 2:56 PM EDT
Mo Alie-Cox is one of the biggest and strongest players in college basketball.
May 4, 2015, 2:42 PM EDT
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May 4, 2015, 11:54 AM EDT
Ryan has set records for his ability to raise money at events like this.
May 4, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT
Curry burst onto the national scene with a huge 2008 NCAA tournament run.
May 4, 2015, 10:51 AM EDT
LeGerald Vick could end up moving into the class of 2015.
May 3, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Maia led the Ivy League in rebounding in each of his three seasons playing at Brown.
May 3, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT
Notre Dame’s first commitment in the 2016 class is an important one.
May 3, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT
The Aggies are on the board in 2016, and they’ve landed one of the top distributors in the class.
May 3, 2015, 8:25 PM EDT
Nigel Hayes believes that each individual school should be allowed to decide how much they give an athlete should they be allowed to pay them in the future.
May 3, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT
The Texans will hold its rookie minicamp next weekend.
May 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Jones hasn’t played a college game yet, but when he arrives on campus at UNLV he’ll be one of the best dunkers in college basketball.
May 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Former Colorado guard Dustin Thomas is heading to Arkansas.
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