• We know Shaka’s approach has produced no conference titles in the Atlantic 10. We also know it produced either a deep run (one final four) or six early exits. He has accrued a .744 W&L statement, which when combined with mediocre conference records in a mid major conference, implies pre-conference opponents stacked with not just cupcakes, but outright Bon-bons.

    What does all of the above suggest about Shaka’s approach?

    He burns players and teams out early with his relentless pushing of his players onto an “edge.”

    “Attack the day” works the first 90 practices and first 20 games.

    The last 90 practices and last 20 games its freshness goes stale.

    Shaka is not really developing players, or their late season performance would be better.

    His system is a war of mental attrition to find the guys with the deepest wells of intensity.

    It appears to indoctrinate and reward fanaticism and then selects toward it.

    It appears to pay lip service to players developing better basketball skills.

    It appears focused on getting better “mentally” and peak conditioning. It has its strengths, but it has its weaknesses, too.

    This is going to mean the time to mount a maximum effort on Shaka is early, when his team’s are best. beat them early and you are likely to sweep them late.

  • Every coach has their own gimmicks, the article was nice to read, you usually don’t get that kind of backdoor access to what coaches do on a day in and day out with their players. Do I think the changes he’s trying to make will make a big difference in year 1, No. He’s got a talented team but not one with a guy who can get 20 points on any given night. I think Lammert & Holland are below AVG players for their positions in our league & Felix has always been too small and only hits a few jump shots here and there.

    At VCU he was a legend and because he raised the value of basketball so much there, he really couldn’t do wrong. But now at a big school, one that is a football school he has his work cut out for him. If he can bang with the best at recruiting that’s probably his best shot at sticking with Texas and building something. His style of play is attractive to HS kids and when he has the right combination of them he is dangerous. I just don’t think he has the players to be that dangerous in year 1.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Agreed. The true test comes when the first stack comes. If Cuonzo and Johnny get stacks in their conferences, then Shaka gets one in the B12, too.

    How Adidas and Self respond to this challenge will be very interesting.

  • @jaybate-1.0 If and when he beats us with the press, there will be plenty of lamenting that we no longer attack on defense like the 2008 team.

    I believe it can only help Self to have Huggins and now Shaka in the league. We need to play against teams that play with desperation before March.

  • I think Shaka brings an interesting premise to the Big 12…

    Can the coaching style fitting a mid-major program work in an elite conference?

    Shaka always had available to him the same bag of tricks Marsha has at WSU… play the underdog role and build a big chip. How does that work at Texas, a team full of highly-touted players? I can see that Shaka may be able to play Barnes recent performance woes into a chip. But what happens after they have one decent year under Shaka? What happens when Texas starts getting some media love? Let’s see him carry the burden of being ranked Top 5 in preseason polls. Let’s see how he performs against the ‘curse of death’ (high early rankings).

    Shaka is running on a fast clock. He will never get the love Barnes received from Texas donors because Barnes was a “good ol’ boy” and in the “good ol’ boy network.” Tick-tock, tick-tock…

  • @approxinfinity

    Totally agree! Welcome to KUBUCKETS! You’ll enjoy your time here…good site!

  • To really discuss Shaka Smart, you have to dive into the facts to see whether what he does works or not.

    2009-10 - beat Oklahoma (ranked) at home. No notable road wins, lost in the CAA tournament. Won the CBI in the postseason. Finished 27-9. 13-5 in the first half of the season, 14-4 in the second half, 8-2 in the last 10 games.

    2010-11 - beat Wake Forest and UCLA on neutral floors. Lost to Tennessee on a neutral floor. Won at Wichita State. Finished 28-12 (Final Four) 15-5 in the first half of the season, 13-7 in the second half, 7-3 in the last 10. 11 seed in the NCAA tournament.

    2011-12 - lost to Alabama, Georgia Tech and Seton Hall. No notable road wins, but did beat Northern Iowa in Bracketbusters. Finished 29-7 (round of 32). 13-5 in the first half, 16-2 in the second. 8-2 in the last 10. 12 seed in the tournament.

    2012-13 - beat Alabama and Memphis, lost to Duke and Missouri (Memphis, Duke and Missouri were all ranked when they faced off). Also beat a ranked Butler squad. Finished 27-9. 15-3 in the first half, 12-6 down the stretch. 6-4 in the last 10. 5 seed in the tournament. Lost to the 4 seed to be eliminated in round of 32.

    2013-14 - won at Virginia (ranked). lost to Georgetown and Florida State. Also beat Virginia Tech and Boston College. Split with a ranked St. Louis squad (both winning at home). Finished 26-9. 14-4 in the first half, 12-5 in the second. 6-4 in the last 10. Lost in the round of 64 as a 5 seed (OT).

    2014-15 - beat Tennessee, Oregon and a ranked Northern Iowa squad. Lost to Virginia and Villanova (both ranked). Won at Cincinnati. Finished 26-10. 15-3 in the first half, 11-7 down the stretch. 17-3 before star guard Brionte Weber tore his ACL. 9-7 after that injury. Won A10 tournament. Lost in the round of 64 as a 7 seed (OT).

    Honestly, that’s a pretty solid resume. They are (as you would expect from a pressing team) very tough at home. I imagine that could carry over to Texas if they can get the crowd involved. Smart never had quality offensive depth at VCU. He should be able to have that at UT. Last year was the first time he got multiple top 100 players (landing 3) and it showed in that he had probably his strongest squad before losing his all conference guard and the engine of his defense.

    So can what he does translate? I think so. Rick Pitino had success moving from Providence to Kentucky, eventually winning a national title. I’m not saying that Smart will do the same, but his system works and the move to Texas immediately improves the talent he is working with. His teams will constantly be matchup nightmares because he does not really recruit the slow, plodding players and his ball pressure puts a premium on switches and speed. In some ways, I anticipate that Texas will resemble the Iowa State teams that have given us trouble the last few years - lots of speed, threes and interchangeable parts.

  • @jaybate-1.0 said: He has accrued a .744 W&L statement, which when combined with mediocre conference records in a mid major conference, implies pre-conference opponents stacked with not just cupcakes, but outright Bon-bons.

    Don’t think any one in the BIG12 should be pointing fingers at them about playing cupcakes and outright bon-bons…especially after how the BIG12 got exposed last year and time and again, showed how overrated the conference is.

  • @justanotherfan Great post. Lots of good information on Shaka and his resume.

    He is pretty impressive as far as wins and losses. A Final 4, etc. That certainly doesn’t change the fact that I despise him. His arrogance is in an elite class. Coach Cal level arrogance without the championships to go with it.

    For me the Big 12 lost one of the classiest acts in all sports in Hoiberg who coached a very worth opponent at ISU and have added a 5’7 small man syndrome j*ck off to coach an already irritating and self righteous Texas. I wish them all the worst.

  • @justanotherfan He doesn’t recruit the slow plodding players, but his most important player this year, Ridley, is a slow plodding player.

  • @justanotherfan

    Great post!

    “In some ways, I anticipate that Texas will resemble the Iowa State teams that have given us trouble the last few years - lots of speed, threes and interchangeable parts.”

    Let’s hope so. Let’s hope Shaka can make Texas a contender. It is good for the B12 and good for us. The way to bring success to Texas is to push x-axis basketball; foot speed and the ability to press is a plus. This is the direction basketball (as a whole) is going, from HS to the NBA.

    Adding one more team that focuses on utilizing foot speed is one more push on Self bringing his game into modern times. He is already starting to see the huge advantage by having both Mason and Graham on the floor at the same time. The days of having a single skilled ball handler on the floor at a time is quickly vanishing. It should vanish. The next step for Self to learn is to “be on the offense on defense”… meaning… start using full court pressure and half court traps to create TOs and disrupt the timing of our opponents on offense. This may still be many years away for Self… but a few thumpings in league play may speed up the process for him.

    I hope Shaka brings his “A game” and pushes Self into the modern age of basketball. We may get there soon, especially if the shorter shot clock helps, too.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    It appears Shaka is laying the foundation for KU being his chip just as Everyone tries to do in the B12.

    The question is will Texas become an EPA SUPER STACK SITE next season?

    Will Shaka become Staka?

    KU needs some quality big men soon.

    USA could hold off the Japanese for a time with old P-40s and Grumman Wildcats, but it had to get better planes to become a serious threat on the offensive. End of metaphor.

    One more interesting take away from the SI article was the reporter framed the Texas’ recruiting challenge of signing its in state players as involving UK, Duke and UNC. Thus the reporter implied KU was not among the elite. This appears a classic passive approach to marginalizing a program with discourse framing. If media excludes KU from mention among the elite in recruiting, then over time it marginalizes the program–a self fulfilling prophecy, especially if it were to coincide with an appearance of recruiting embargo, hypothetically speaking.

  • @justanotherfan

    Nice post.

    I think his style will translate once he gets a full roster of players he wants. Felix, Ibeh, Lammert are players he would never sign and we all know Ridley is too big to change but maybe he can get more minutes out of him with the conditioning I’m sure Smart is installing. His 3 recruits will fit his style but the Transfer Cleare is another lumbering big body so he’s got 3 space eaters this year.

    Taylor could have a good year but he’s never had much of a jump-shot that Smart covets from his lead guard.

  • There is a difference in caliber of players he was using in his old conference vs the players in the big 12. I was looking at his old roster and found that since 2007 he only had 2 top 100 guys during his tenure at VCU vs 7 on his current roster at UT. Implementing his old coaching style with a group of top 100 players should make a huge difference on the outcome in March. Time will tell.

  • @BeddieKU23 Ridley changed his body last season, he might be as fast as he can get.

  • Ridley has been out of shape his entire career until the later part of last season. I think he can be mobile because he has shown some sneaky athleticism underneath all the baby fat.

    He’s not Larry Sanders (an ideal big man in Shaka’s system) but Ridley has some potential. Either way, Texas will be conditioned and that alone will make them a stronger team than they have been.

    As @Statmachine said, the upgrade in talent at his disposal should pay dividends in March because he has already shown that he can coach with less talent at his disposal.

  • @justanotherfan did Ridley have less minutes last year, than his first? I mean his 2nd year.

  • @elpoyo

    Au contraire, any B12 fan should feel great about exposing over rated poseurs that don’t win conference titles in mid major conferences, win no rings and fatten their W&L statements on cupcakes. I know I sure do. Try it. You’ll like it. 🙂

    For two seasons in a row KU played one of the toughest non conference schedules in the last decade, not just last season, according to many quantitative based ranking systems, not just according to Vinnie the Putz writing opining for some east coast talking head viagra peddling sports content.

    The Big 12 came by its high ranking last season very honestly (and QA substantiated) and inspite of the apparently typical asymmetric press coverage that has appeared to have been the long term tendency of national broadcast, digital and print sports media.

    And it seems quantitatively naive and street sappy to infer from one apparently asymmetrically seeded and apparently asymmetrically officiated March Madness with apparently asymmetrically distributed talent that the Big 12 was in fact an overhyped poseur. Who you gonna believe? A sizable pre-conference schedule against good competition that included referee bias of all kinds both for and against the Big 12 teams, or the results of an apparently asymmetrically seeded and apparently asymmetrically officiated single March Madness?

    Only a sucker would believe the results of March Madness were more indicative of the quality of the Big 12 than the Big 12 pre conference W&L statement last season. I mean c’mon!!!

    This does not take a statistician capable of grinding stats on quantum phenomena of sub atomic particles being accelerated at CERN. Capice?

    Any bookie running a virtual betting window could figure this one out.

    Heck, any MBA grad from Harvard hustling fast fiber on the New York Stock Exchange could see what’s going on here without even thinking about it.

    Nothing illegal, or conspiratorial, either–let’s dispense with that nonsense right now!

    But why should we feel great about viewing perhaps soon-to-be Stacka Smart through a more objective lens than ESPNCBSFOX-Big Gaming feed us sometimes coverage at least possibly for bet-balancing expedience of Big Gaming? Is that really so far-fetched a notion? Is it completely beyond technological feasibility and gambling expedience?

    But again, why should we okay about being skeptical about Smart and about doubting the Big 12 was overrated as you suggest.

    Because it appears absurd to talk about how overrated the B12 conference is most of the time. It appears rarely overrated, even sometimes when it seems to be, because the media apparently can make more money traditionally under covering and underrating it and over covering and overrating EST conferences. Surely you would never dispute that tendency, once you start thinking about spatial distribution of viewer and betting demographics.

    I am hardly an expert on this stuff (I don’t even bet in office pools anymore), but about the only time it would make business sense for the media-gaming complex to systematically overreport and overrate the B12, or KU, specifically, would be to try to amp up betting on B12 teams that seem so generally under rated and under-reported over the long haul. It would appear that well targeted coverage and situational hyping of the CST could well amp up interest in the CST when needed; i.e., it appears technologically feasible and cost effective to some degree to stimulate betting on CST teams to off set the much greater number of bettors inclined for regional affinity to bet on the EST teams than the CST teams, right?


    Note: the B12 lacks a substantial foot print in the EST. WVU was clearly intended to be the first of an eastern division of the B12 that was still born for whatever reason. But I digress.

    A conference like the B12 will, I guess, rarely get remotely symmetric coverage, anymore than it will get symmetric seeding in the Madness. Eyeballs and clicks and gambling dollars channel coverage and seeding into asymmetry.

    Again, hypothetically speaking, the only time I can imagine that it would be logical for media to over cover and over rank CST conferences would be in a situation where 5-10 draft choice stacks were strategically placed in ACC (Duke-9), SEC (UK-10), and even the Pac Ten (UA-4), so that it was apparent a CST conference, at least its top 3 teams in a conference like the B12, was outclassed not top to bottom, but only at the top, from the get go vis a vis the strategically placed stacks. For the sake of bet balancing, you might want to over-hype and over cover the CST teams, and conferences in order to diminish the adverse effect on betting created by the stacking of EST and PST time zones and NCAA regions.

    Under this hypothetical scenario, it might be especially beneficial to do if the stacking process had side stepped the B1G, also, because the top coaches/programs in the B1G were perhaps non compliants with the stacking process (i.e., adidas UM and an apparent recalcitrant dissident about stacking in Izzo at Nike MSU), so the B1g had no stack.

    Gee, might any of the above hypothesis rendered fit the data last season?



    Who can say, eh?

    Note: I am absolutely hypothesizing the complete absence of any conspiracy or illegality. This hypothesis assumes activities are entirely shaped by spatial distribution of eyeballs and clicks, plus by legitimate, law abiding organizations–some for profit and some not for profit–pursuing apparently legal market and business strategies to ensure solvency and pursue minimum yield, and if possible profit maximization in a significantly oligopolized market.

    Rock Chalk!!!

    Addedum 1: alas, I wonder what became of @elpoyo’s post I was responding to?

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Ridley’s minutes went from 16.4 as a freshman (when he could barely go three trips without needing to be replaced) to 25.6 as a sophomore, where he was pretending to be in shape, then 21.4 last year.

    Honestly, there were still a lot of times last year where he just couldn’t log minutes. The year before, he faked being in shape, but there were times where he wouldn’t rotate on defense, or post up on offense simply because he was tired. I doubt that happens this year because Smart will have him in shape, or he simply won’t play at all.

  • @justanotherfan turner get his minutes?

  • @justanotherfan

    Good information. The question is…will Smart be able to recruit top player to play in a system that will not prepare them for the NBA? I am sure he can still recruit the type players he did at VCU, fast but lower ranked, but can you win consistently at a major conference with this type of players? Top players got to Kentucky because it plays a system that they believe prepares them for the NBA, and judging by the number of players it has sent to the NBA lately, it is hard to argue; although it is likely that those player would have gone to the NBA regardless of where they played.

    NBA teams do not play at that frantic pace…except perhaps in the last few minutes of a close conference series game. There is no way players could maintain that pace for 80+ games. In short, other than being physically fit, Smart’s system does not really prepare them for the next level and top players might not want to play in his system. Only one player that he recruited, Troy Daniels, is currently in the NBA and he played for the Hornets in the 2015 Summer League, not a ringing endorsement for a player that has been ion the League for 4 years. BTW, VCU player Larry Sanders that played for the Milwaukee Bucks (and is now out of the NBA) was not recruited by Smart and played for him only in his junior year and then left for the NBA.

    Some interesting information for those who think Smart made VCU relevant. Below are the records for Smart and his predecessor Anthony Grant; Grant has a better record than Smart, both overall and also in-conference:

    2009-2015 Shaka Smart 6 163-56 (.744) CAA/A-10: 74-30 (.712)

    2006-2009 Anthony Grant 3 76-25 (.752) CAA: 45-9 (.833)

    Let’s face it, Smart’s claim to fame is his well know win over KU…beyond that, what else has he done that other comparable school like Butler have not done better? I believe the “legend” of Shaka Smart is better than the reality.

  • @JayHawkFanToo interesting pt.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I hope you are right. Shaka’s biggest and best day that put him on the map is my #2 worst memory as a KU fan. The wound still seems so fresh!!

  • @joeloveshawks

    I hesitate to ask which is #1…The Battle of New Orleans? The Farokhmanesh-gate?

  • @JayHawkFanToo Michigan. Without hesitation.

  • @JayHawkFanToo said:

    will Smart be able to recruit top player to play in a system that will not prepare them for the NBA?

    All coaches adapt their systems to embrace the best talent they can get at whatever level of program they are at.

    All “systems” are incredibly flexible, as Self, Cal and Consonants have shown in their migrations to adapt to OADs, TADs and 3ADs.

    Cal with a 10 stack and 4 footers adapted the Dribble Drive to a low tempo, half court, cram it inside offense.

    Players’ talents and expected opposition and officiating determine how any “system” is used.

    Self’s supposedly inflexible high low was adapted to 4 flat and 4 out 1 in with no passing or action to win the WUGs.

    The question is: will Shaka be a short stack, or a long stack?

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    At VCU, Smart was not in a position to recruit NBA level talent, so it’s hard to determine if his system can prepare you for the NBA. He was mostly getting players ranked outside the top 100. Maybe 2 or 3 guys outside the top 100 eventually make the pros in any given year, so the fact that he has even one of those as his players is actually quite a feather in his cap.

    His system developed, at least in part, from the fact that he could not recruit a lot of pure talent, so he found a system that made his teams very competitive without tons of talent. It’s much easier to adapt to having more talent at your disposal, as Smart currently has at Texas, than having less, as we have seen with Tubby Smith since he left Kentucky.

    As for Anthony Grant, he made the mistake of taking a job at a school that has no built in basketball advantages. He moved to the SEC, but a job in that league that is a middle of the pack job. Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas are all better jobs than Alabama, and it would be hard to argue that South Carolina, Georgia, LSU, and Ole Miss aren’t all on roughly equal footing. Grant is a good coach that went from equal footing (relative to his peers at VCU) to being a below average team in a major conference. That’s a killer. But the fact that Billy Donovan hired him to coach at OKC speaks to Grant’s overall coaching ability. Donovan wouldn’t make that call unless he was sure Grant could help him keep his own job.

    As for whether the system prepares them for the NBA, Smart’s system requires the ability to defend the entire floor. While the NBA doesn’t press, if you can’t defend, you cannot play for Shaka Smart. So any player that plays for Smart will automatically check that box off as far as being able to guard a position.

    Offensively, Smart’s system isn’t much different than any other college coach. He runs enough pick and roll that his offense can make a guard NBA ready. He doesn’t emphasize post ups, but most college teams don’t, so I don’t see a real difference there.

    With his conditioning program, that is preparation for the grind of the NBA with games every couple nights for five solid months.

    Overall, I’d say his system is at least as good as most college programs, with the bonus that, at least defensively, a player can really show if they are a good individual defender in his system.

  • @justanotherfan

    It is a chicken and the egg thing. Is his system designed because he could not get top players?..or did top players not go to VCU because of his system? Interesting. His predecessor recruited 2 players that made it to the NBA in 3 years and Smart recruited one NBA player in 6 years even after his win over KU. VCU has been playing for 3 years now in the 7th ranked A-10 conference (that sent as many teams to the dance last year as the PAC 12) and it did not seem to have improved his recruiting any.

    I still think that if he continues to play the same style…and I don’t know how he can do it wit the plodding bigs he has at Texas, many of the top recruits will pass and go play for system that more closely resembles NBA play.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Eric Maynor was a midmajor recruit from Fayetteville, NC that chose VCU over Tulane, East Tennessee State, Winthrop and Appalachian State. He was unranked by Rivals.

    Larry Sanders was recruited by Virginia, but never officially offered a scholarship to come to Charlottesville. He was given an ESPN recruiting grade of 78 and was also unranked by Rivals. Generally, players ranking below 80 are fringe top 100 players (lowest top 100 grade is usually 80 or 81). As a comparison, Karvair Shepherd, who we have talked about at length on this site, was graded 84 in the final grades given by ESPN.

    That leads me to believe that nobody thought either Maynor or Sanders would become an NBA player when they were coming out of HS. It’s also notable that many thought Briante Weber would be a second round NBA pick prior to his horrific knee injury this season in which he tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus, and fellow VCU player Treveon Graham was also considered a possible second rounder this season. Neither was taken, though Graham played summer league with the Spurs, while Weber is still recovering from his injury. It is possible that two years from now Smart may have recruited 3 players that went on to the NBA.

    Also consider this - how many players did Iowa State send to the NBA under Fred Hoiberg? Only Royce White. And that’s in a system that is tailor made for the NBA.

  • @justanotherfan

    Both Maynor and Sander were recruited by Grant and not Smart. As far as Hoiberg, it is likely that Ejim, Niang, Kane and other recruits of his will be in the NBA in the near future.

  • @JayHawkFanToo think ejim already is!

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    You are right. Ejim had signed with a German team for the upcoming season but after an impressive Summer League stint he signed a training camp deal with Orlando, just a couple of days ago,

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Maynor was a Jeff Capel (pre-Oklahoma) recruit. Sanders was a Grant recruit.

    The three I was referring to for Smart were Daniels, Weber and Graham, if in fact Weber and Graham make it at some point.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Shaka is gonna get “shell shocked” the first time he comes to The Phog!! I sincerely hope Coach Self, the staff and the players have that first home Texas game circled on the calendar, super imposed upon a shooting range target symbol too. I also hope Coach takes no prisoners in that game. There will be no holding back in the name of “sportsmanship” There will be supersonic jet level decibels roaring through AFH and Texas will get sent back to the lone star state with their horns cut the %^&k off!

  • @jaybate-1.0 Somehow I knew ya still had the touch jb, I just hadn’t heard it for awhile…

  • @globaljaybird

    Thx. Alas, it comes and goes more as I age.

    Rock Chalk!!!

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