Shaka Smart has been creating a buzz around the internet and in media since his VCU team was thought to be undeserving of a tournament bid. However, instead of fading away like a team that shouldn't have been there, VCU continues to pull off tremendous upsets against teams I'm sure none of thought could lose to VCU and the buzz has only grown louder. After it seems that Buzz Williams and Josh Pastner are no longer in the cross-hairs of Oklahoma AD Joe C. the fans have voiced their opinion that Shaka should be the next candidate on the list. Smart runs what is known as the "havoc" style of basketball (heavy use of the full court press and pressing after made baskets to disrupt opponents' timing of offensive sets), which in my opinion has carried him this far due to this strategy not being common in major conferences and a major part of why they were able to oust Kansas (if you watched this match up, it was hard to ignore all the players from both sides tugging on their shorts with about 4:30 left to play). But, all things considered, Smart has several things working against him and I for one am not sure that I want him at OU right now. He could be given a considerable look down the line in about 5 years time but as for now he simply does not have a track record long enough.
As Dimes has said, OU is currently interviewing someone and this rules out the possibility that it could be Shaka Smart. Joe Castiglione has been keeping the name of the candidate on the hush hush and we are all left to speculation at this point. But keep in mind, this candidate could always say no and the search could continue leading us back to the Shaka conversation.
Shaka Smart has posted an incredible tourney run that has landed him in the Final Four (bet you couldn't name a single player from this VCU team before the NCAA Tourney and some of us still couldn't today!) against another so called "Cinderella" team in Butler. The first hurdle that Smart is going to have to overcome is an explanation of his regular season record. VCU is 28-11 overall boasting a 12-6 record in the Colonial Athletic Association finishing 4th in conference, these are not great numbers but certainly better than what OU was capable of this season in the Big XII. In a lower tier conference, you obviously are not going to have to face NBA talent week in and week out. Is Smart capable of recruiting big talent with big attitudes with the current sanctions in place as well as with the on-going investigation? Maybe, but maybe not and like I said above, Shaka just doesn't have the track record for a clear yes or no to be made.
The second hurdle Shaka Smart has to overcome is the fact that we as fans have only seen what he has been capable of during the tournament and no during the regular season. Most of what is being thrown out there in support of him being the next Oklahoma HC is largely dependent upon the bias of VCU's tournament accomplishments thus far. I'm sure we all remember George Mason and their unlikely run to the Final Four where they would get thumped by Florida on their way to a National Title. Does anyone remember the name of the coach? Jim Larranaga was his name and what has he done since? Nothing! George Mason continues to excel in conference and makes the NCAA every few years due to an automatic bid for winning the conference but he is still unable to reproduce the 2006 run. I couldn't name a single player off that team in 2006 and to this day I still couldn't name one which I figure is that category that most of us are in.
The third obstacle in Smart's way in the fact that he is unproven and currently coaches at VCU. It pains me to say this but the simple fact that Capel came from VCU hurts Smart even though he is currently 55-20 overall. Does the fan base really want OU to take another chance on an unproven, young, VCU coach? And if Joe C is looking at coaching how much weight is thrown on fan relations? I have a hard time thinking OU fans back another VCU coach and fill LNC at least half way full for any game.
Sure Shaka Smart looks appealing right now (I personally like his attitude toward basketball and the mindset he instills in players) especially considering he makes a whopping $325,000. OU could very easily win the bidding war with VCU assuming OU and Smart had a mutual interest. But, when we take our wow factor glasses off and look at the rest of the pieces, is Shaka Smart really the best available candidate OU can get? In my opinion it would seem that the odds are stacked against the possibility of landing Smart but hey, it could happen (again with the Angels in the Outfield).
Another candidate I think should be a real contender is Geno Auriemma. Geno was close to taking this opening the last time around and I would not be surprised to see him pulling the trigger this time if UCONN has become too easy so to speak.