Mar 14, 2012; Portland, OR, USA : Virginia Commonwealth Rams head coach Shaka Smart looks on as his team practices before the first round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE
With Rick Stansbury stepping down as Mississippi State's head basketball coach today, the focus now turns to who will replace him. If I were Scott Stricklin, I'd include this guy on my short-list:
Shaka Smart – Head Coach - VCU
Career record: 83-27 (VCU)
2009-10 CBI Champions
2010-11 NCAA Final Four (At-large bid)
2011-12 NCAA Tournament, 12-seed
Why Smart: If you’re an AD with a short-list and Shaka Smart isn’t on it, well then, you’re out of your mind. All he’s done in his three years as the head man at VCU is win 83 games and take his team to the NCAA Final Four. What’s more impressive is that 2011-12 was supposed to be a down year for VCU after graduating four starters. Instead, Smart’s Rams won 28 games, the CAA tournament title, and another berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Style of Play: Smart’s philosophy is "havoc." On defense, his teams pressure the ball and look to force teams out of their offensive sets. On the offensive end, Smart likes his teams to take a defensive rebound, get up the floor, and attack the open space.
Can State land him? : Smart signed an 8 year extension with VCU after the 2011 season, that bumped his pay from $350K a year to $1.2 million per year. Obviously, Stricklin would have to open up his pocket book (Stansbury was making 1.3 mill) to lure Smart to Starkville. Stricklin won’t be the only AD to come calling. Smart reportedly turned down NC State last season and is rumored to be Illinois top candidate to replace Bruce Weber.