It was an overcast Friday morning in Gainesville, Fla., when Virginia Commonwealth University's athletic director hunkered down into a back booth in an anonymous diner to meet a man he'd been watching for years.
Norwood Teague told a handful of fans in the Siegel Center this morning that he had been watching the University of Florida's assistant coach, Shaka Smart, since long before VCU's outgoing men's basketball coach, Anthony Grant, made plans to leave for Alabama. “I've literally evaluated him to his core,” Teague says.
Evidently, he likes what he sees. He's brought Smart in to lead the team for $325,000 a year. Smart signed a five-year contract.
Much was made of Smart's ability to recruit new players and he emphasized his eagerness to pull in local talent from the city, but the real focus of the press conference was Smart's head game. He has a master's degree in social science and turned down Harvard and Yale as an undergraduate to play for Kenyon College. He showed a sensitivity to the team's mental space, saying that he wanted to help the team through a tough time losing their coach, but showed he could just as easily flip into psychological warfare.
“We're going to wreak havoc on our opponent's psyche,” Smart told the crowd.