City Sports Report

Shaka Smart looks toward experience and youth for VCU’s progression

Shaka Smart speaks to media (Photo by Jason Schott)

Shaka Smart gets it.

Tuesday, the Atlantic 10 Conference held its Media Day at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It came as no surprise that head coach Smart drew the largest crowd of journalists (myself included) at his table during the morning session. VCU was unanimously picked to win the conference in a preseason poll of A-10 coaches and media members.

Smart is entering his sixth season as head coach of Virginia Commonwealth University. His 137 wins in five seasons are tied for the second most at the Division I level. The program has enjoyed its greatest success under his leadership and the expectations for more in the upcoming season are high. Smart knows this and with the calm and poise of someone who’s aware of the moment at all times he embraces the attention.

During his media session, Smart referenced a quote that reveals light on his approach to the expectations bestowed upon his team.

“What gets measured gets done.”

This season, VCU has what projects to be its deepest team in Smart’s tenure as head coach. Six of the team’s top eight players from last season are returning, including their best player Treveon Graham. However, it’s not just the returning players, it’s also the freshmen that have added to the team’s buzz. Smart is excited about what Terry Larrier, Justin Tilman, Jonathan Williams, and Michael Gilmore can bring to the table this season. The incoming crop of talent is by far Smart’s most acclaimed recruiting class. It is a result of the success he’s had at VCU and the impact they have had since joining the Atlantic 10 Conference two years ago.

Smart has what I would call a controlled charisma about him that’s clearly captivated the college basketball world. He’s aware that despite going into last season as the team picked to win the conference they ended up finishing second. With every successful season the stakes have grown. However, Smart appears to remain even-keeled in his expectations. While excited about the upcoming schedule, when it comes to the team’s expectations he’s “pretty much the same every year.”

The goal is always to win, and consistency has been key to why Smart’s enjoyed so much success at VCU. This season he hopes that he has the right mix of youth and experience to back up the expectations of VCU being the leader of an emerging Atlantic-10 Conference.

You can follow Anthony Rushing on Twitter @AnthonyRushing_

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