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2024 Openings: Keep an Eye on This Stealthy Off-Season Hire

Previously we wrote about the best Non Division 1 coaches in the sport of college basketball. The foremost coach on our list was undeniably Dave Smart. We even had suggested, “Some D1 school should make the call” at the time. Having retired as a head coach at 52 years old, Smart became a consultant for the Ottawa Senators and an assistant for the Canadian National basketball team. Now at 57 years old, it seemed his window of opportunity might have closed to make the jump to the NCAA. However, in a move largely overlooked and unexpected, Dave Smart has relocated to the United States and secured a coaching position at Texas Tech, operating at the highest echelons of basketball in the Big 12 as an assistant.

Smart has long been within our purview. If you are unfamiliar with his background, he accrued a remarkable record of 591-48 record as the head coach at the Canadian powerhouse Carleton, earning an impressive 13 Canadian National Titles. This achievement alone merits commendation. More notably to the American college basketball fans, his teams regularly outperformed or significantly beat NCAA D1 teams in exhibitions.

Among the teams Carleton defeated were Baylor, TCU, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Cincinnati, Providence, Vanderbilt, Northern Colorado, Alabama, Wichita State, Texas Tech, Memphis, Vermont, Saint Louis, Akron, La Salle, and Wright State. Some of these were NCAA teams or even top 25 teams at the time of competition. For instance, Carleton vanquished Wichita State by an astounding 25-point margin, and Wichita State later concluded the season in the top 25 rankings.

There was a impressive period where Carleton held a 16-1 record against these D1 teams, securing victories over most of those prestigious P5 schools listed earlier, and going 20-4 over a more extended stretch. Moreover, there were numerous closely contested matches, such as a loss to a Sweet 16 Kansas team by a single point in the season following their national title win.

The exceptional record stands out even when acknowledging that most of the victories were secured in Canada, on home soil. Upon examining the rosters from this period, it was evident that they included several D1 transfers who had previously served as role players at mid-major schools. Such a roster composition is not typically associated with the level of talent one would expect to consistently achieve such impressive victories or establish such an outstanding record vs mostly P5 teams.

Here is Carleton’s extensive record against D1 teams during Smart’s tenure as an Assistant or Head Coach at Carleton.

Tue Oct 29, 2019Syracuse, NYSyracuseLoss58-77
Sun Aug 18, 2019Ottawa, ONAlbanyWin90-77
Tue Aug 13, 2019Ottawa, ONValparaisoLoss80-83
Wed Aug 7, 2019Laval, QCSouth FloridaWin78-69
Tue Aug 14, 2018Ottawa, ONMaryland Eastern ShoreWin98-55
Sun Aug 12, 2018Ottawa, ONSouth Dakota StateWin83-64
Fri Aug 10, 2018Ottawa, ONSouth Dakota StateWin113-51
Wed Aug 8, 2018Ottawa, ONMississippiWin81-63
Mon Aug 6, 2018Ottawa, ONCincinnatiWin86-67
Sat Oct 28, 2017Providence, RIProvidenceWin77-67
Mon Aug 28, 2017Saint Lambert, QCSienaWin73-66
Sun Aug 27, 2017Ottawa, ONSt. Francis BrooklynWin89-55
Fri Aug 25, 2017Ottawa, ONNortheasternWin70-66
Wed Aug 23, 2017Ottawa, ONCanisius CollegeWin77-65
Tue Aug 22, 2017Ottawa, ONNew HampshireWin87-60
Fri Aug 18, 2017US Virgin IslandsJames MadisonLoss59-67
Thu Aug 17, 2017US Virgin IslandsVanderbiltWin81-74
Tue Aug 15, 2017US Virgin IslandsNorthern ColoradoWin89-79
Mon Aug 14, 2017US Virgin IslandsVanderbiltWin61-56
Wed Aug 9, 2017Ottawa, ONAlabamaWin84-71
Mon Aug 7, 2017Ottawa, ONTowsonLoss64-76
Sat Nov 5, 2016Philadelphia, PALa SalleLoss73-79
Sat Oct 29, 2016Providence, RIProvidenceLoss69-87
Wed Aug 17, 2016Ottawa, ONMorgan StateWin113-62
Fri Aug 12, 2016Ottawa, ONArkansas-Pine BluffWin117-74
Sun Aug 7, 2016Ottawa, ONWichita StateWin100-75
Fri Aug 5, 2016Ottawa, ONStetsonWin85-76
Wed Aug 19, 2015Ottawa, ONTexas TechLoss60-67
Fri Aug 14, 2015Ottawa, ONBaylorLoss78-80
Fri Aug 14, 2015Ottawa, ONBaylorWin79-73
Thu Aug 13, 2015Ottawa, ONValparaisoWin77-59
Mon Aug 3, 2015Ottawa, ONMurray StateLoss59-63
Sun Nov 2, 2014Syracuse, NYSyracuseLoss68-76
Tue Aug 19, 2014Ottawa, ONMemphisWin92-60
Sat Aug 16, 2014Ottawa, ONMemphisWin86-76
Thu Aug 14, 2014Ottawa, ONIllinois-ChicagoWin64-49
Tue Aug 12, 2014Ottawa, ONVermontWin74-66
Mon Aug 11, 2014Ottawa, ONIndianaLoss85-95
Sat Oct 26, 2013Cincinnati, OHCincinnatiLoss63-77
Fri Aug 23, 2013Ottawa, ONSyracuseLoss65-69
Wed Aug 21, 2013Ottawa, ONWisconsinWin95-82
Sun Aug 11, 2013Ottawa, ONTexas ChristianWin77-51
Wed Aug 7, 2013Ottawa, ONTowsonWin67-41
Fri Nov 2, 2012Philadelphia, PALa SalleLoss58-61
Thu Nov 1, 2012Villanova, PAVillanovaLoss59-65
Wed Aug 22, 2012Ottawa, ONNortheasternWin75-62
Sat Aug 18, 2012Ottawa, ONUNLVLoss70-74
Tue Aug 14, 2012Ottawa, ONBuffaloWin77-75
Sat Nov 5, 2011Philadelphia, PAPennsylvaniaLoss72-74
Fri Nov 4, 2011Philadelphia, PALa SalleLoss56-74
Thu Sep 8, 2011Ottawa, ONUC Santa BarbaraWin71-61
Fri Sep 2, 2011Ottawa, ONNiagaraWin85-55
Sat Aug 27, 2011Ottawa, ONSaint Louis UniversityWin78-73
Fri Aug 26, 2011Ottawa, ONSaint Louis UniversityWin80-56
Thu Aug 25, 2011Ottawa, ONAlbanyLoss81-91
Tue Aug 16, 2011Ottawa, ONUniversity of AkronLoss76-80
Thu Aug 11, 2011Ottawa, ONCentral FloridaLoss84-93
Wed Aug 10, 2011Ottawa, ONIllinois StateWin91-80
Tue Aug 9, 2011Ottawa, ONLa SalleLoss64-66
Mon Nov 1, 2010Cincinnati, OHCincinnatiLoss57-89
Sat Sep 4, 2010Ottawa, ONCincinnatiLoss70-87
Sat Aug 28, 2010Ottawa, ONMaineLoss62-73
Fri Aug 13, 2010Ottawa, ONNew Mexico StateLoss53-65
Fri Oct 30, 2009South Orange, NJSeton HallLoss62-89
Sun Sep 6, 2009Ottawa, ONSt. Johns UniversityLoss54-71
Tue Aug 18, 2009Ottawa, ONTowsonWin95-83
Sun Nov 2, 2008Morehead, KYMorehead StateLoss69-84
Sat Nov 1, 2008Cincinnati, OHCincinnatiLoss54-64
Mon Sep 1, 2008Ottawa, ONBuffaloWin84-74
Sun Aug 31, 2008Ottawa, ONSouth AlabamaWin78-59
Sat Aug 30, 2008Ottawa, ONKansasLoss83-84
Thu Aug 28, 2008Ottawa, ONNortheasternWin77-47
Sun Nov 4, 2007Chestnut Hill, MABoston CollegeLoss47-70
Fri Nov 2, 2007Kingston, RIProvidence CollegeLoss72-86
Mon Oct 29, 2007Louisville, KYLouisvilleLoss49-82
Sun Sep 2, 2007Ottawa, ONAlabamaWin83-72
Sat Sep 1, 2007Ottawa, ONVillanovaLoss46-61
Fri Aug 31, 2007Ottawa, ONIllinoisLoss72-74
Sat Nov 4, 2006College Park, MDMarylandLoss77-86
Thu Nov 2, 2006Washington, DCAmericanLoss64-66
Sun Sep 3, 2006Ottawa, ONLa SalleWin76-75
Sat Sep 2, 2006Ottawa, ONLouisvilleLoss66-67
Fri Nov 4, 2005Los Angeles, CAUCLALoss51-78
Thu Nov 3, 2005Tempe, AZArizona StateLoss58-70
Sun Sep 4, 2005Ottawa, ONMurray StateLoss63-67
Sun Nov 14, 2004Chestnut Hill, MABoston CollegeLoss59-67
Sat Nov 13, 2004College Park, MDMarylandLoss60-89
Thu Nov 11, 2004Norfolk, VAOld DominionLoss33-82
Thu Oct 14, 2004Ottawa, ONSouth CarolinaLoss35-75
Sat Sep 4, 2004Ottawa, ONChattanoogaLoss65-76
Sun Nov 2, 2003UnknownCornellLoss68-75
Tue Aug 12, 2003Ottawa, ONWestern CarolinaLoss64-70
Sat Nov 2, 2002Ithaca, NYCornellLoss68-101
Mon Nov 5, 2001UnknownBoston CollegeLoss70-81
Thu Nov 1, 2001UnknownMaineLoss56-65
Mon Nov 6, 2000Dayton, OHWright StateLoss67-84
Fri Nov 5, 1999Richmond, KYEastern KentuckyLoss50-70

Bruce Pearl, Steve Forbes, and Bo Ryan serve as prime examples that a non-D1 setting is a viable and successful path. While failures exist, demonstrating excellence at any level signifies an individual’s capabilities. The landscape remains relatively flexible across these tiers, unlike the significant gaps observed in D1 where substantial financial disparities prevail. Achieving considerable success in these settings often involves being a better coach with the recruited talent at hand. Particularly, being able to reference a 20-4 stretch against numerous high-level and P5 schools, triumphing with likely less superior talent, exemplifies this point.

It appears he’s in the game and may be eying a D1 job before he retires. If I were an Athletic Director in the realm of D1 this coming spring 2024, Smart would be my primary consideration for a head coaching position. The first call, granting a season to acquaint himself with the nuances and regulations of the NCAA under his belt. We fervently hope for this opportunity to materialize, enabling him to exhibit his capabilities within the NCAA. It’s a bet we’d make that his return to heading a program would be nothing short of spectacular.

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