Skip to content

Hanging onto Shaka Smart the key for growth of the VCU program

Jun 20, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT

shakasmart Reuters

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Georgia Tech lands commitment from 6-foot-9 three-star center

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Sylvester Ogbonda

    The first commit in 2015 for Brian Gregory.

  2. Wisconsin forward joins lawsuit against NCAA

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Wisconsin forward was named Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman.

  3. Five-star power forward sets tentative dates for official visits to Kansas, Arizona

    Oct 31, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpti1yzy1ymy3ytizody1zwrhyzfhmme2odcxyjawntbi AP

    The Bay Area big man is considered the No. 7 overall player in the senior class.

  4. Louisiana Tech’s Michael White is happy where is at

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Louisiana Tech coach has averaged 28 wins the past two seasons, and is poised for a NCAA tournament appearance in 2015.

  5. Drexel starting guard to miss the entire 2014-2015 season with ankle injury

    Oct 31, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Injuries are becoming a far too common problem for Drexel.

  6. Syracuse senior to have a bigger role in offense

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    For the past two years, the Philly product has averaged five points per game.

  7. While uncommon, Kentucky’s expected 10-man platoon isn’t unprecedented

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Another SEC school used a similar system on its way to a national title game appearance in 2000.

  8. 2014-2015 Season Preview: Louisiana Tech the favorite in the ever-changing Conference USA

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Despite 29 wins (13 in conference play) Louisiana Tech missed out on the NCAA tournament. Michael White looks to change that this season, although, his team will have to go through the likes of UTEP and newcomer Western Kentucky, first.

  9. Sophomore guard decides to leave Kansas program

    Oct 31, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

    Iona v Kansas Getty Images

    With the number of guards in the Kansas program, playing time was likely to be scarce for Conner Frankamp.

  10. All-Big West forward declared ineligible at Hawaii

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Isaac Fotu Isaac Fotu

    Isaac Fotu’s part of the NCAA’s investigation into the program, and other schools have attempted to poach some of Hawaii’s remaining players.

  11. Top 25 Countdown: No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Malcolm Brogdon (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Virginia is coming off of a dual-ACC title and returns the majority of the key players from that team.

  12. Kentucky sits atop Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

    AP AP

    No surprise that Kentucky’s on top. Also of note: No. 3 Wisconsin received more first-place votes than No. 2 Arizona.

  13. Foot injury to sideline Ball State guard eight to ten weeks

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    North Carolina State v Cincinnati North Carolina State v Cincinnati

    The Cincinnati transfer was expected to factor into a rotation that’s replacing five seniors from last season’s team.

  14. Illinois declares home floor fit for play following flooding issue

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:53 PM EDT

    Twitter/IlliniHoops Twitter/IlliniHoops

    Quick action by construction workers ensured that it was declared ready for play two days after being flooded.

  15. Officiating controversy results in multiple suspensions

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:41 PM EDT

    Chris Collins, Bo Boroski Chris Collins, Bo Boroski

    Some officials are in hot water after compromising a system used by 20 different Division I conferences.

  16. Canadian forward/center verbally commits to Saint Louis

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:58 PM EDT

    crews AP

    Saint Louis adds more depth to its front court with this verbal commitment.