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Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Who Canada's next national basketball coach should not be up for debate.  It will not be grist for talk radio and there should not be a lengthy list of candidates.   One name stands well above the rest.  Simply put, he's a winner and his name is Dave Smart, Coach of the Carleton Ravens owner of numerous CIS Basketball Championships and author of the greatest dynasty in Canadian university basketball history, this side of Ken Shields' Victoria Vikes of the late 70's and early 80's. 

Smart was a former assistant coach with the national team as recently as 2008 and he was horrible miscast.  It was hard to imagine the fiery Smart holding a clip board and weaving his magic on a program.   He took a moribound Carleton program breathed life into it and made the model franchise for all of university basketball.  He teaches his players to win and settles for nothing less as a coach.   He is quick to give his players credit for winning while receding into the background.  He is a rare hybrid of intensity and humility, not seen in basketball where coaches egos are larger than life.  

I've had a chance to sit in on a coaching clinic with Dave Smart, and while many coaches are very good at this, they use as a forum to crack a few jokes, tell a few stories and run some drills. Smart brings his brand of intensity into coaching forums and you come out of his presentation truly believing in him, and his philosophy.

Canada basketball has tried university coaches in the past, and it has been a horrible failure.  Steve Konchalski, long-time coach of St FX had the job and it was not a good fit as Konchalski's teams at the time did not play under the FIBA rules.   These days the CIS follows a FIBA hybrid and its coaches are much more suited for games on the national stage.  Who better to get than the best coach the CIS has to offer?

This is barely worth an opinion blog.  It's Dave Smart's job to lose.  Any other choice would pale in comparison.

Steve Clark

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