Done Deal, Shaka Smart hired as Marquette’s head coach

Almost 7 years to the day after a deal was not in fact done, multiple outlets have reported Marquette has crossed the finish line and hired Shaka Smart to replace Steve Wojciechowski as the head men’s basketball coach.

The terms of the contract are unknown at this time.

Smart comes from Texas where the lack of postseason success dampened the initial enthusiasm upon his arrival from VCU. He went 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament in his 6 years with the Longhorns, including the most recent upset as a 3-seed to 14-seeded Abilene Christian.

If you are looking for a guide in to what to expect, this Cracked Sidewalks look at the case for Shaka is an excellent deep dive. This is a key passage:

Smart has also shown an ability to adapt. His VCU teams were all about defensive turnovers. Remember that Havoc defense that keyed the Rams’ Final Four run? Those teams led the nation in defensive turnovers three straight years. At the same time, VCU’s defensive eFG% averaged a rank of 7.5 while in conference play.

Instead of bringing Havoc along to Austin, he changed his coaching philosophy to focus on eFG% defense. His Texas teams were in the top-80 nationally every year in that category as he maintained top-40 defenses despite a complete change in style. Even while having defensive success, Smart hired Luke Yaklich in 2019. Yaklich, widely regarded as the best defensive assistant in the game at the time, had transformed John Beilein’s defense from never reaching the top-30 in efficiency to a unit that was ranked in the top-3 every year Yaklich was there.

Smart would bring a defensive identity yes, but don’t presume this is just about defense. Moser’s best-ever offense at Loyola Chicago would only be the fifth-best of the Smart era, and he’s willing to adapting on offense.

Aside from a proven defensive mentality, Smart brings an ability to recruit. In his Texas tenure, 6 of his 7 recruiting classes ranked in the Top 20 nationally and he’s had 3 first round NBA draft picks.

We will update the story when details are confirmed.

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