Shaka Smart

Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

Friday night was supposed to usher in a new era of Texas basketball, and based on the Longhorns’ performance, it lived up to expectations. Loaded with a combination of young talent and returning veterans, Shaka Smart’s team delivered plenty of hope for the upcoming season to the 9,516 fans that watched the lopsided spectacle.

Texas rolled Northwestern State throughout, ending the contest at the Frank Erwin Center 105-59. And on an even more encouraging note, plenty of Texas’ struggles from last season became strengths in the 2017-18 opener.

“We still have a long way to go, a lot of things to improve on, but I think our guys shared the ball really well,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “I thought Mo (Bamba) and Dylan (Osetkowski) as a twosome just gave us a great spark early with the way that they played, the way that they rebounded.”

The night started with an emphatic putback dunk by five-star freshman center Mohamed Bamba. Bamba, a 6-foot-11 center with an NBA future, anchored the paint defensively and scored at will near the basket on offense. Bamba stuffed the stat sheet with a game-high 15 points, eight boards and four rejections.

“Whenever you can start off with a dunk on your first play, it pumps everyone up,” Bamba said. “Our message was we had something to prove. Last year wasn’t the greatest year for us and I’m saying ‘us’ because I was a part of that too.”

Bamba’s partner-in-crime, power forward Dylan Osetkowski, impressed in his Texas debut as well. The versatile big man displayed his arsenal of skills, nailing outside shots, boxing out to earn tough rebounds and even demonstrating an ability to handle the ball up the floor. The junior finished with a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double. He’ll be counted on throughout the season, bringing Texas’ rebounding and high-post success that it lacked a year ago.

“I’m just trying to bring a level of hustle, spirit, rebounding,” Osetkowski said. “My ability to shoot the ball is only to get better from here. And I’m gonna help space the floor out.”

The Longhorns shot 29.2 and 65 percent from three-point range and the charity stripe in 2016-17, respectively. Both of these facets of the game were noticeably improved in the early going on Friday night. Texas drew plenty of contact down low, resulting in numerous trips to the line. The team finished the first half 17-of-19 from the line and 5-of-14 from downtown.

But most importantly, Texas drilled each of its first four three-pointers and finished several dunks to establish early momentum and ignite the offensive attack. Seven Texas players scored in double-figures as the Longhorns finished over the century mark for the first time since December 2015.

Despite the offensive flashes, the Longhorns’ defense was arguably the strongest aspect of Texas’ game. Northwestern State couldn’t break through the Longhorns’ press in the first half and Texas’ aggressive defense, led by Kerwin Roach, forced 19 turnovers in the contest. Additionally, the Longhorns blanked the Demons 28-0 in points off of turnovers.

“With the new group we got in, we were able to pressure more, rotate guys in and we’re long and fast and athletic, so the more we can pressure people, we can get in our element playing fast,” sophomore point guard Andrew Jones said.

After completing the second largest blowout of the Smart era, Texas will look to continue the success on Tuesday night when New Hampshire comes to town.

Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

A new season of Texas men’s basketball ignited on Friday night at the Frank Erwin Center as the Longhorns throttled Northwestern State, 105-59, in the season opener. With year three of the Shaka Smart era in Austin underway, there are high expectations for this team to turn things around after a dreadful 11-22 finish last season. Texas fans got to see a little bit of everything from Smart’s retooled roster on Friday night. Here are three thoughts from the season opener.

Mo Bamba makes his highly-anticipated debut

What Texas fans most wanted to see on Friday night was 6-foot-11, 225-pound freshman forward Mohamed Bamba. In pregame introductions, Bamba was the last starter to be called, and he subsequently received the loudest cheers from the crowd.

Bamba scored Texas’ first points of the game in thrilling fashion. Junior forward Dylan Osetkowski’s shot from the left side of the paint traveled too far, but Bamba was waiting for it on the opposite side. Bamba elevated to throw down a put-back slam to amp up the crowd in the early going. Not a bad way to begin his collegiate career.

Bamba led all Texas scorers with 15 points on 6-9 shooting, collecting eight rebounds along the way.

“We won’t see the best version of Mo this year,” Smart said after the game. “That’s way down the line. But we can see a really good version. I thought tonight was a precursor of that.”

Osetkowski showcases his versatility

Since last season, Smart has raved about Dylan Osetkowski and his untapped potential. The junior forward had to sit out last season after transferring from Tulane. All of that potential was forced to reside on the bench for a full season. But Osetkowski finally got to show off his versatility and athleticism on Friday night.

Both of those qualities were put on display in one standout play midway through the first half. Junior guard Kerwin Roach II fired a three from the corner, but the ball rattled off the front of the rim. Osetkowski came sprinting down the lane from near midcourt and in the blink of an eye slammed home a forceful put-back dunk to bring the crowd to life.

“Coach Smart always calls me a unicorn — a man of many talents,” Osetkowski said. “I was just so happy to get back out there and enjoy the experience.”

Osetkowski finished the night with a double-double, totaling 13 points and 10 rebounds. He may be the Swiss Army knife on this Texas team. He has a very good handle for a big man and can bring the ball up the floor in transition. He’s a scrapper down low in the paint and will do much of Texas’ dirty work this season — defending, rebounding and fighting for loose balls. And Osetkowski can also step outside and knock down a three, making him that much more difficult to guard.

Seven Longhorns finish in double figures

If Texas is going to be a serious competitor in the Big 12 this season and get back in the NCAA tournament, it will have to show consistent improvement on the offensive end, specifically from beyond the arc.

The Longhorns got off to a sizzling start from the three-point line on Friday night, opening the game 4-4. Texas finished 10-33 from three and shot 49 percent from the field. Seven Longhorns finished in double figures. Freshman point guard Matt Coleman had 14 points in his Texas debut and showed great poise running this improved run-and-gun offense.

“That’s the style of play we’ve been wanting to play for and we’ve been building to play for,” sophomore guard Andrew Jones said. “It showed tonight, and there’s only more to come.”

Texas men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart previewed the upcoming season on Tuesday in Kansas City, Missouri, at the Big 12’s annual media day. Accompanying Smart in Kansas City were freshman forward Mohamed Bamba, sophomore guard Andrew Jones and junior forward Dylan Osetkowski.

Smart discussed a number of topics, including how Texas’ retooled roster is supposed to help the Longhorns bounce back from an abysmal 11-22 campaign last season.             

“We just have a lot more versatility than we had last year,” Smart said. “Last year there was a couple of positions where we didn’t have a guy at that spot that that was his true position.”

One of the big question marks with this season’s Texas squad is its consistency shooting the ball, especially from the three-point line. The Longhorns shot 29.2 percent from beyond the arc last season.                    

“I think we have some guys on our team that are better shooters than they shot last year,” Smart said. “It’s a matter of putting them in position to get high-quality shots as much as possible and then for them to jump up and knock ‘em down.”

Texas will open its season against Northwestern State on Nov. 10 at the Frank Erwin Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Virginia Scherer and Iliana Storch | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: This is part one in a two-part series about the racial integration of Texas’ men’s basketball team. Part two, which will be published Thursday, will tell the story of Larry Robinson, one of the first African-American basketball players at UT. 

In early April, when Texas’ newest head coach Shaka Smart took the podium at his introductory press conference at the Frank Erwin Center, he had culminated a climb that had begun over 45 years earlier.  

As the Longhorns’ 24th head coach, Smart became the first African-American coach of the basketball program,  something he said he takes very seriously.

But Smart’s path was set by a trio of athletes — Sam Bradley, Jimmy Blacklock and Larry Robinson — who became the first black basketball players after a long but quiet integration process through the 1960s.

In November 1963, seven years after Texas integrated its undergraduate program in 1956, the Board of Regents agreed to desegregate all athletic activities at Texas. But Texas’ first African-American basketball player didn’t take the court for another five years. 

Harold Bradley, head coach of Texas from 1956–1967, had strived to recruit multiple standout African-American athletes through the 1960s with little reward. But his best chance came with James Cash out of Terrell High School in Fort Worth.

Bradley made a full push for Cash — even going in front of the Austin City Council to lobby for a human rights commission to show that Texas was striving to improve race relations.

Cash eventually decided to stay close to home at TCU, becoming the first African-American basketball

player in the Southwest Conference in the 1966–1967 season.  

Another slim prospect came with the well-known Lew Alcindor, now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Despite the assistants’ lack of optimism on the big man, Bradley was confident Alcindor would sign with Texas — even writing up a preliminary press release to announce his signing. But Alcindor went to UCLA and the Longhorns saw another opportunity pass.

“There were legitimate concerns of how do you integrate when you’ve had nothing that is an example of it,” said Bill Little, then-assistant sports information director.

By the time Leon Black took over as head coach of the basketball program in late spring 1967, Texas, which played in front of miniscule crowds at Gregory Gym, was still struggling to find success on the recruiting trail.

Texas was a football school, and it was well known. The school’s sports information director at the time described, “There are two sports at Texas — football and spring football.”

“We always had that back seat,” Black said. “Every time I went to recruit somebody, they had an article. And they said ‘Why should I come to Texas? Here’s your SID, he’s saying there are two sports at Texas, and basketball is not one of them.’”

Texas had little pull with African-American athletes. The national attention of Texas’ largest desegregation case of Sweatt v. Painter in 1950 had created distrust among the black community in Texas, and there were no black athletes with the Longhorns at the time to prove anything different.

“Many [African-American athletes] weren’t accustomed to playing around white players,” Robinson said. “They felt there weren’t enough black students [at Texas]. And that was true.”

Quietly, Samuel Bradley would become that example. Black reached out to Bradley, a freshman on the Texas track team at the time. He became the Longhorns’ first black basketball player in 1967.

Bradley, however, wasn’t the impact player Texas was looking for. Three years later, Blacklock and Robinson were.

Blacklock, formerly a star athlete at Austin High School, transferred to Texas from Tyler Junior College before the start of the 1971 season while Robinson became the first black basketball player to sign a letter of intent at Texas.

“I know I could play and race wasn’t an issue,” Robinson said. “I could acclimate myself to white society; it wasn’t for me a strange thing.” 

During the 1972 season, Robinson created a lasting impact at Texas. While he led the Longhorns to their first Southwest Conference title, Robinson had helped set the path for future black athletes at Texas. Within the next two years, Texas added at least four more African-American players.

“I can’t tell you how happy I was when someone asked me how many African Americans we had and I could say I don’t know,” Little said.

Today, Texas joins Stanford as one of just two teams in the Power 5 conferences to have a black head coach for football and basketball. But, that fact isn’t as important as it once was.

“It shows you how far we’ve come,” Black said. “We’ve come to far that it doesn’t matter. You look for the best coach. If he’s black, he’s black. If he’s white, he’s white. If he’s brown, he’s brown. I think we’ve come that far.”

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Isaiah Taylor has got until Sunday to figure out if he’s as ready for the NBA as Johnny Manziel was for the NFL. There’s no question in my mind: Taylor should stay for his junior year, further develop his skills and delay entering the NBA draft.

Taylor is a 6-foot-1-inch tall point guard who is astonishingly quick, has a unique ability to drive the ball and is a feisty ball defender. But he lacks a consistent jump shot and weighs a mere 170 pounds.

If Taylor chooses to stay at Texas, he’d be the driving force for head coach Shaka Smart’s new offensive and defensive scheme.

Taylor was already the head of the snake whenever the Longhorns decided to press opponents last season. He only averaged one steal per game in 2014–2015, but Smart’s “havoc” system will increase that number — Smart’s system demonstrably produces steals.

Since Taylor flourishes in the open court, the up-tempo pace Smart employs on offense will allow Taylor to drive the ball and have the defense on its heels.

Furthermore, with Taylor breaking down defenses as a result of his driving, he’ll be able to produce shots not just for himself, but also for his teammates. Texas’ two incoming recruits, Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach, are both players who can shoot and attack.

When Taylor blows by his man, it will force the next defender to help on the drive, if that defender helps off someone such as Davis, Roach, rising senior guard Javan Felix or any other player Texas has that can shoot (sorry, Demarcus Holland). From there, they’ll have fairly open looks at the basket.

Taylor’s drives will have the defenses scrambling from all of the team’s help and the knowledge that Texas has shooters on the perimeter. It’s often not the first drive that hurts the most — it’s the second drive. If Davis, Roach or Felix can drive the ball after getting a kick out pass from Taylor, then that will put even more pressure on the defense.

In order for Taylor to be as effective as possible, he will have to develop a jump shot. Without a jump shot, the chain of events that he causes as a result of his drives are unlikely to happen because Taylor’s defender could simply play off him. A consistent jump shot would make Taylor the best point guard in the nation because of all the threats he would pose. It’d be hard to guard someone with his quickness and a consistent jump shot.

The jump shot wouldn’t just elevate Isaiah’s game to a whole other echelon, but it would improve his draft stock. A former Arizona State point guard told me that when he would go up against point guard Avery Johnson, he would play off him because Johnson didn’t have a consistent jump shot.

Taylor would be guarded similarly, but his unique skill set merits something different. He should stay at UT and develop those skills further.

From left to right: David Cason, Mike Morrell, and Darrin Horn, Shaka Smart's new assistant coaches.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kevin Kilhoffer (left), VCU Athletics and Kentucky Sports Radio

Less than a week after being hired as Texas’ new men’s basketball coach, Shaka Smart has finalized the rest of his coaching staff.

Two of Smart’s assistants at Virginia Commonwealth University, Mike Morrell and David Cason, will come with him to Texas. Former South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn will join the Longhorns as well.

Horn joins Smart’s staff with nine seasons of head coaching experience with South Carolina and Western Kentucky. He guided the latter to the Sweet 16 in 2008. Three years ago, Horn left his coaching career with a 171–11 record to take a job as a college basketball analyst with ESPN and the SEC Network.

Beyond his experience, Horn’s game plans also share many similarities with Smart’s. As a coach, Horn was known for his up-tempo offense, pressure defense and intense conditioning.

“He has extensive experience as a head coach,” Smart said. “I’ve always been impressed by Darrin’s intensity as a coach and teacher of the game.”

One of the assistants Smart is bringing with him, the 32-year-old Morrell, has worked with Smart for the last four seasons and spent two of those seasons in the assistant role. 

The other VCU transfer, Cason, has over 20 years of coaching experience, including his past season at VCU. Before joining Smart’s staff, Cason was an assistant with Vanderbilt, Tulsa, TCU and Eastern Illinois, as well as the director of basketball operations at North Carolina and Notre Dame.

“David did a terrific job for us this past year at VCU,” Smart said. “He’s been a part of some very successful coaching staffs and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program.”

In addition to his assistants, Smart is bringing along his VCU strength and conditioning coach, Daniel Roose, and keeping former Longhorns guard and special assistant Jai Lucas in Austin. Lucas, the lone holdover from this season’s staff, will serve in a newly-created role as director of basketball operations.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed with him in the short time since I arrived here,” Smart said. “Everyone I have talked to, including our players, has spoken glowingly about him and his impact on this program. Jai played here and is from the state of Texas, and he has terrific relationships around Texas. Most importantly, he has phenomenal potential in this profession.”

Filling in the final spot as the special assistant to the head coach is Denny Kuiper, who spent the last 14 years as a sports communication consultant, working with both VCU’s Final Four team in 2011 and Marquette’s Final Four team in 2003.

Men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart talks at the podium during his introductory press conference in April.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Less than a week after Rick Barnes left the head coaching job, Texas found its program’s 24th basketball coach. Shaka Smart, who spent the last six seasons coaching at Virginia Commonwealth University, finally left the Rams after essentially rewriting the program’s history book.

Smart guided the Rams to the NCAA Tournament in each of their last five seasons, the longest streak in school history, including a trip to the 2011 Final Four — the first time the program ever advanced past the Tournament’s second weekend.

In Smart’s six seasons at the helm, the Rams won 163 games, which tied Smart with Jamie Dixon for the second-most wins of all time by a coach in their first six seasons in Division I basketball.

Smart won at least 26 games in each of his seasons at Virginia, an accomplishment that had been achieved only twice in the program’s first 37 seasons of D-I competition. And in each of those seasons, the Rams won at least 70 percent of their regular season games, despite making the leap from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Atlantic-10 Conference in the fourth year of Smart’s tenure.

Over the same six-year stretch in time, Texas won 26 or more games just once. Further, the team hasn’t hit that 70-percent win mark in the last four seasons. Over the past three seasons, VCU has also averaged a 14.75 on the Simple Rating System — which uses strength of schedules and point differential to give each team a rating of how many points above or below average they are — nearly three points higher than Texas’ 11.9.

When he transitions from coaching at a mid-major school to Texas, Smart will likely be able to achieve success — primarily by making drastic changes to Texas’ style of play.

At VCU, Smart ran his signature ‘havoc,’ full-court press defense, ranking the Rams among the top five in the nation in both steals and turnovers forced the last four seasons. In contrast, the Longhorns didn’t rank higher than 108th in steals or 150th in turnovers forced.

This past season, the VCU’s typical lineup featured no starters taller than 6-foot-6-inch, primarily playing four-guard lineups. Meanwhile, the Longhorns often started three players 6-foot-7-inch or taller. With Texas’ frontcourt depth taking a hit with senior Jonathan Holmes graduating and freshman Myles Turner declaring for the NBA draft, Texas will likely start at least three guards for the majority of the 2015–2016 season.

With a likely shift in focus to a press-based defense as well as Smart’s emphasis on the backcourt, the Longhorns will probably soon look like a totally different team than the team who played under Rick Barnes this season.

While next year’s squad may struggle a bit in adapting to the system at first, come March, the Longhorns should return to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend for the first time since 2008.

Shaka Smart was introduced as the head men’s basketball coach at a Friday press conference. Smart joins Texas after six seasons at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

When men’s athletic director Steve Patterson was looking for a new head basketball coach, he said he felt Shaka Smart was the only man for the job.

“We said: ‘Who do we really want?’” Patterson said. “Somebody who’s a great, dedicated coach; somebody who plays an exciting style of basketball and is really interested in developing the entire group of student-athletes both on the court and off the court; somebody who is consistent in operating in an ethical fashion; somebody that we really wanted to bring to the University of Texas. We thought of Shaka Smart.”

On Thursday, Smart, the only candidate interviewed for the job, agreed to join Texas’ basketball program. He replaces former head coach Rick Barnes, who was asked to leave UT earlier after a 17-year tenure last week.

Patterson said Smart received a seven-year contract, with the first six years fully guaranteed, with an average annual compensation of about $3 million. As part of the buy-out with Virginia Commonwealth University, Texas will pay the Rams $500,000 and either play them in a home-and-home series or pay another $250,000.

Smart quickly became one of the hottest coaching commodities in the country when he led the 11th-seeded Rams from the play-in game to the Final Four in 2011. His teams were consistently good over his six years as a head coach. He won at least 26 games in every season and made the NCAA Tournament in each of his final five years in Virginia.

Many schools had tried to pry Smart away from VCU, but all were unsuccessful.

“To be honest, I didn’t know if I would ever leave VCU because of the relationships that I had there with the players and the coaching staff,” Smart said. “It really took a world-class institution, a world-class athletics program and a phenomenal place to convince my daughter, my wife and myself to make this move.”

But Texas was a “no-brainer,” Smart said.

“When the opportunity was presented to me to be the head coach here at Texas, I quickly realized this was something different,” Smart said. “This athletics department is all about championships, and I knew I was going to have the opportunity to work with a great group of young men.”

Smart is the first African-American head basketball coach at Texas. Texas will now be the third Division I school with African-American head coaches in both basketball and football, joining Stanford and Georgia State.

Smart said he feels the weight of his position as a “first.”

“I take that very seriously,” Smart said. “I grew up and was able to learn from and benefit from some terrific role models [and] some great mentors. … I hope that in this role as the men’s basketball coach at the University of Texas, I can play this role for someone else in this terrific state.”

Smart said he is going to bring his style of “havoc” basketball with him from Richmond, Virginia, which means a lot of pressing, fast breaks and overall aggressiveness.

“I can tell you right now, when you come to the Erwin Center to see us play, you’re going to see an exciting style of basketball,” Smart said.

However, Smart knows  he will have to adjust that style a bit with his new roster — one that has a plethora of skilled big men.

“That means maybe you adjust what you do to fit those guys’ strengths,” Smart said. “But at the same time, we’re not going to get away from what I believe in. We’re always going to be aggressive. We’re always going to be highly competitive.”

After the deal was announced, players said they agreed Smart’s confidence and style of play will have exciting implications for the program.

“My immediate reaction to hearing about Coach Smart was excitement,” junior forward Connor Lammert said. “We are turning a new page in the book and are real excited about it.”

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

It wasn’t always about basketball for new head coach Shaka Smart.

He remembers sitting at a typewriter when he was young, sending letters to his father, who left for a supposed vacation to his native Trinidad.

He remembers his father coming home about eight years later, judgmental, difficult and harsh.

He remembers hearing the door slam as his father left for the final time in 1994 in the midst of a cold Wisconsin winter.

But Winston Smart was not your typical absent father. When the family heard from him for the first time years after the first disappearance, he was getting his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis — one of his four degrees. He valued education over everything.

“He just didn’t like that I was so into sports,” Smart told CBSSports. “He always wanted me to be just about academics, … and he crossed the line a few times.”

In Smart’s single-mother home, school was always first.

He had his share of basketball success at Oregon High School in Wisconsin, leaving as the all-time leader in assists and a second-team All-Badger pick, but he didn’t get any offers that would make you jump out of your chair.

No one would have second guessed him if he had called it a career and, instead of pursuing basketball, chosen between Harvard, Yale and Brown for his college education.  

“Well, I love the game,” Smart said at his introductory press conference Friday afternoon. “Like these guys, at a young age, I just wanted to play as long as I could play.”

With those Harvard and Yale acceptance letters sitting on the table, Smart developed a close, paternal relationship with Bill Brown, the head coach at Division III Kenyon College.

That opportunity to play for the father he never had led him to the small liberal arts school in the middle of Ohio.

Then, Brown left him after his freshman year.

“I remember just crying for like three days,” Smart said in December. “I was 19 and lost because this guy, my father figure, just left. And, honestly, that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed at VCU. It factors into my mind. It really does. What happened to me is a factor.”

That’s what’s led Smart to his loyalty. He builds as many relationships as he can wherever he is, and he doesn’t want to let anyone down.

That’s part of the reason he turned down North Carolina State. And UCLA. And Maryland. And Marquette. And Illinois. And Tennessee.

“I got the chance to help them along the way with that, but I really cherish those relationships,” Smart said. “As I mentioned, that’s the hardest part of leaving. I didn’t know if I would ever leave because of that.”

But when Texas came calling, Smart saw a “no-brainer” opportunity — a chance to lead Texas, with all the in-state talent and state-of-the-art resources, to its first national championship.

He looks forward to instilling “havoc” in the Frank Erwin Center. He looks forward to working with his first great set of big men and playing in a Power Five conference.

But all those take a backseat to his main goal — being that father figure and guiding them in the right direction.

“The hope is that you are creating a relationship and strong bond that is going to last forever,” Smart said. “I think when you go through certain shared experiences, particularly when those experiences involve first adversity and then triumph and preferably championships, there’s nothing like that to bring people together.”

Isn’t that the kind of man you want to run your program?

“We pride ourselves at the University of Texas in a great academic program and in a great athletics program and in doing it with integrity,” UT president William Powers Jr. said. “Given that background and criteria, I can’t think of a person to lead us into the future in men’s basketball than coach Smart.”

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Texas made it official Friday that Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart has become the Longhorns' newest head coach. Smart, who spent six seasons with the Rams, replaces veteran head coach Rick Barnes and becomes the 24th coach in the program's history. Here are five things you need to know about Smart: 

All-time assists leader at Kenyon College

Former Texas head coach Rick Barnes was the point guard at the small Lenoir-Rhyne College. Smart attended the even-smaller Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school in Ohio with just 1,676 undergraduates.

Smart made the most of the opportunity as he was an All-North Coast Athletic Conference (DIII) selection and a member of the 1999 USA Today All-USA Academic Team. He is the all-time assists leader at both Kenyon College and Oregon High School (Wisconsin).

The Havoc

At his introductory press conference at VCU, Smart simply described his style of basketball. 

"We are going to wreak havoc on our opponent's psyche and their plan of attack," Smart said in 2009. 

And there’s no reason to think his plan of attack will be any different at Texas as he will use the full-court press and a transition offense. His teams averaged 9.5 steals per game, good enough for fourth in the nation. That’s a big difference than the 342nd ranked Longhorns with 3.8 (fourth worst in Division I).

Texas players may want to start their conditioning program early this summer because they will need every bit of it. The last two years Smart's team – including the staff – has gone through a week of Navy SEAL training to get ready for the season.

Origins of his name

Smart's first name comes from the African warrior Shaka Zulu, as he explained four years ago before an Elite Eight matchup with Kansas. 

“Shaka is an African name, named after a king in southern Africa who united hundreds of thousands of people," Smart said. "He was a warrior, he was a tough dude, and my dad chose to name me after him. You may have seen the movie ‘Shaka Zulu.’ That’s who I’m named after.”

Climbed the ranks fast

Smart’s not the most experienced man out there, but he's had success in just his six years as a head coach. In his first year in 2010, he won the CBI. The next year, he was in the Final Four. Smart has made the tournament every year since that CBI title.

Before that, he didn’t spend too much time as an assistant. He started as an assistant at California University (Pa.) while getting his master’s degree in social science. Two years later, he was the director of basketball operations at Dayton and three years after that, he was an assistant at Akron. He spent two years at Clemson under Oliver Purnell. Finally, his last stint as an assistant was a one year job at the University of Florida, where current Texas football head coach Charlie Strong also served as an assistant for the football team.

At age 31, Smart became a head coach at VCU.

A scholar and a basketball coach

Smart is one bright mind. He quotes Shakespeare and others, reads from "Sun Tzu" and has a master's degree. He was admitted into Harvard, Yale and Brown out of high school but instead went to a Division III school, where he graduated magna cum laude. His father, who left his family when Smart was 11, had four college degrees and wanted Smart to be solely about academics — not sports — sometimes making him earn an A to play.