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Gopher Head Coach Candidate: Shaka Smart


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One of the names most associated with the Minnesota Gopher basketball head coach vacancy is that of Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart.

Gopher athletic director Norwood Teague was the athletic director at VCU before coming to Minnesota, so the ties Teague has to Smart would make him a natural fit in Minnesota. In order to determine if he would be a good fit, here is what Shaka brings to the table:

Coaching Experience-

  • Virginia Commonwealth: 2009-pressent
  • Career record: 111–36, 50-20 in conference play
  • Highest conference finish: 2nd in CAA (2011-2012) 2nd in Atlantic 10 (2012-2013)
  • Took VCU to NCAA Final Four in 2010-2011
  • Took VCU to NCAA third round in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons (7-3 NCAA Tournament record overall)

Pros brought to table-

  • Smart is a young coach who would bring instant credibility to the Gophers.
  • Smart is known as a defensive-minded coach, which should translate well to the Big 10.
  • Smart turned VCU into a program capable of making deep NCAA Tournament runs.


  • Smart would be under more pressure with the Gophers than at VCU
  • While he is a defensive-minded coach, very few coaches in the Big 10 can get away with playing his kind of style for an entire game.
  • May be targeted for a higher-caliber job, such as UCLA

My thoughts-

Shaka would be a great hire if the Gophers decide to go that route. He is one of the premiere young coaches in the game and would instantly help bring recognition to Minnesota. But I wonder if he would even want to leave VCU, where he has made a name for himself on the east coast. Regardless of whether or not he wants to leave, he is arguably the most highly sought-after candidate to fill the position.

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