The Rams’ Shaka Smart was in his second season and had led them on the most improbable run in tournament history, five victories in 12 days just to reach
To no one's surprise, many suitors called. To most everyone's surprise, each was turned away.
“I don’t want to speak for Brad Stevens, but I think one thing that we have in common is we both have a tremendous appreciation for where we are and the people that we work with, particularly the student-athletes,” Smart said Wednesday as VCU (22-6, 10-3) prepared for Saturday’s
"Brad's done a tremendous job elevating the level of their program. Anyone over the last couple of years that's called their program mid-major has been out of their mind. He's turned that program into a high-major program. They're definitely one of the top 15 programs in America. So when you've done that like he has, certainly there's a value to continuing where you are instead of starting all over. …
"You want to have a chance to do something special, and I think at VCU we have a chance to do that. Now that doesn't guarantee anything. But I think what's been shown over the last decade here is there's an opportunity to do that."
During nearly 40 minutes with reporters Wednesday, Smart expounded on any number of subjects. What follows are some other outtakes that didn't make the print column for Thursday's Daily Press.
On he and Stevens, ages 35 and 36, being so young: “I think there’s some advantages to being older. I think a guy like (
"I've got a lot of respect for the way (Brad) goes about coaching. He's very process-based. Obviously he's gotten great results over his career, but he's mostly focused on having his guys in the right place and moving them forward, which is how I try to be. We might be different in our demeanors, and certainly style of play. But that's the great thing about what we do. You don't have to do it the same way."
On media reports that Butler and VCU, both first-year Atlantic 10 members, could be candidates to join the seven Catholic schools splitting from the
“I think (conference membership is) important to the program you’re in. I think it’s important to the fans. It obviously dictates in league play who’s coming to play. Our fans love the fact that Butler’s coming in here Saturday. That wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t (left the
“When I was (an assistant under
On how programs such as Butler,
"For instance, (Gonzaga coach) Mark Few's a friend of mine. They have their own jet that they fly on to away games. That's a big deal and that's a big selling point in recruiting. There's a lot of high-major, the majority of high-major programs, don't have that."
On being wedded to the full-court pressure he brought to VCU: "I love our style of play, and it's something I believe in, and something I've obviously put a lot of time and thought and work into, as has the rest of our staff. But if there ever came a time when it didn't make sense for our team, then we wouldn't use it. …
“Actually, when we went to the Final Four and we won all those games in the
On the fine line between the aggression needed to play VCU's defense and the discipline required to avoid foul trouble: "The biggest thing is you have to react and adjust to how the game's being called. It's very challenging to officiate our games because the game first of all goes very fast and it can be a chaotic game. So different games may be officiated in different ways, and our guys need to adjust and react accordingly.
“It’s a challenge, yeah. The best teams do, so we’ve got to find a way to do that. We’ve done it before. But we have to do a better job of managing foul trouble. I give our guys a lot of credit in the
On scouting referees: "We know who the refs are going to be. I try to get my staff not to focus too much on this because when you focus on the refs, then it takes some of the focus away from coaching your team. But there are websites that show how many fouls these guys call, home and away margin. I try not to get into that. The biggest thing for me is, just that there be a level of consistency.
"One thing that's challenging in our games: There are potential fouls that might or might not be called in the full-court because of our … pressure. And then if we're playing a very physical, aggressive half-court defensive team, there are potential fouls that can be called on our offensive end in the half-court. And my biggest hope is there's a consistency there, full-court, half-court, because let's face it, basketball, particularly in this league, is very physical."
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