With Buzz Williams moving on to fill the head coaching vacancy at Marquette, the Big East program has been hard at work looking for a replacement. One name that came up immediately was that of VCU head coach Shaka Smart, who is a native of Wisconsin. Some outlets even went far enough to report that Smart had agreed to become the new head coach at Marquette.
However that wasn’t true and according to a report by Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com, Smart won’t be making the move from Richmond to Milwaukee. In five seasons at VCU Smart has amassed a record of 137 wins and 46 losses, leading the Rams to four NCAA tournament appearances and a Final Four in 2011.
Last spring Smart’s name was one that came up for the vacancy at UCLA (along with that of current Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens), with the school ultimately hiring Steve Alford to replace Ben Howland.
So where does Marquette go from here? Parrish provided a few possibilities in his story:
Among the possible candidates at Marquette now are former UCLA coach Ben Howland, Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins and Green Bay coach Brian Wardle.
Smart and VCU came to agreement on a new contract that runs through 2028 back in October, with his guaranteed compensation for the 2013-14 season reaching $1.45 million and due to increase to $1.5 million in future seasons.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: