Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Dave Smart named new head coach at University of the Pacific

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Pacific’s director of athletics, Adam Tschuor, described Smart as “one of the most respected basketball minds in the world.”

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Former Carleton University men’s basketball coach Dave Smart has been named head coach of the University of the Pacific team in Stockton, Calif.

Smart, the most successful basketball coach in the history of Canadian university basketball, left Carleton last year to take a job as assistant coach at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

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He will take over a Pacific Tigers basketball team that finished dead last in the NCAA’s West Coast conference, losing 17 straight games on the way to an overall record of 6-26.

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Director of Athletics Adam Tschuor introduced Smart as the school’s new basketball coach Wednesday, describing him as “one of the most respected basketball minds in the world.”

“He’s someone who will not only show his energy and enthusiasm on the sidelines, but in the community as well,” said Tschuor, who suggested Smart would also be able to open doors to player recruitment from Canada.

“His connections worldwide are vast and will open pipelines to us not only unique to the history of Pacific Tigers basketball, but to the college game as we know it,” Tschuor said.

This season, 135 Canadians played on men’s Division I U.S. college basketball teams, including NCAA Naismith Player of the Year Zach Edey of Purdue University, a native of Toronto.

Texas Tech head coach Grant McCasland praised Smart as “one of the greatest coaches in all of basketball. Coach Smart’s ability to win speaks for itself, but his understanding of how to help people grow is what separates him,” McCasland said.

In a news release, Smart said he was “thrilled with the opportunity to lead the Tigers into a new era.”

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He thanked Tschuor and Pacific President Christopher Callahan for entrusting him with their vision for the school’s men’s basketball program and said his family was eager to become involved in Stockton.

“Emily, Gabe, Theo, and I can’t wait to get to Stockton to put down roots and get to work,” Smart said.

At Carleton, Smart won 13 national titles as head coach and another two as the Ravens’ director of basketball operations.

Smart grew up in Ottawa and was a star point guard at Nepean High School before attending Queen’s University, where he was a three-time university conference all-star. In 1993, he led the country in scoring, averaging 29.4 points per game.

He was hired as an assistant coach at Carleton in 1997 and took over as head coach two years later.

By then, he had already amassed thousands of hours of coaching experience with high school, club and provincial teams. He also brought an unusual intensity to the sidelines — a fiery desire to win — that made some people uncomfortable. Four players left the Carleton team in his first year as an assistant coach.

In his fourth year as head coach, Smart guided the team to its first national championship and the first of five consecutive U Sports titles.

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Dave Smart helped the Ravens win 13 national titles as head coach and two as Carleton’s director of basketball operations. Photo by David Kawai /Postmedia

In amassing 656 victories as Carleton head coach over 18 seasons, Smart continually rebuilt his championship teams by attracting new talent. He attributed the team’s remarkable run of success to a team-first culture, relentless defence and intense, competitive practices.

“No one practises as hard as we do,” Smart once said in explaining Carleton’s dynasty. “Our guys are so mentally prepared for that Sunday (tournament) game and no one else is even close. We’ve always believed the other team has no chance if we got to the final.”

Smart earned the Stuart W. Aberdeen Memorial Trophy as U Sports coach of the year a record 10 times. His .925 winning percentage (591-48) against U Sports competition ranks first among all coaches in Canadian university men’s basketball history.

Andrew Duffy is a National Newspaper Award-winning reporter and long-form feature writer based in Ottawa. To support his work, including exclusive content for subscribers only, sign up here: ottawacitizen.com/subscribe

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