Craig Smith proved his coaching skills early on when he took over one of the most experienced junior college jobs in the country in 2004.
North Dakota’s Mayville was renting a winning season. Without paid assistants, մի Smith had to raise money to fund scholarships, the comets became his first season in the NAIA Division II, and the championship game his third.
Fourteen years later, two assistant stops and two head coaches, Smith later took Utah, 48, to the NCAA for three straight bids. Ages, 11th seed (20-8), plays Texas Tech No. 6 (17-10) in the South on Friday.
“He could be a top coach or he could decide to make Utah his home and build a big winner in Logan,” said Tim Ne Miles, a former Nebraska coach who had Smith in his four schools for 11 years. “He will have the opportunity to move. There is no doubt about that. “I see a star, when I see it, it has a ‘it’ factor.”
Smith’s trajectory is reminiscent of Chris Bardy at Texas Tech. Beard was a technical assistant in 2001-11. And until 2016, when the Red Raiders took over, he had four jobs as head coach. This was followed by three applications for the NCAA Tournament, including an amazing run to the National Championship game in 2019.
Both coaches have created cultures with an emphasis on solid defense and unselfish play. The state of Jura is only 62.4 points behind in each game, keeping its opponents shooting up to 40%, and is among the national leaders with 16.3 passes. Texas Tech gives the Big 12 a low of 63.4 points per game, forcing an average of 16 turnovers և five players averaging at least 8.5 points.
Smith and Bard have known each other since Smith’s convention player in South Dakota went to Texas Tech as a graduation transfer and was one of the stars of the 2019 Final Four.
“My respect for Utah begins with Craig, someone I consider a friend, someone I know in business,” Bard said. “He did a great job in South Dakota before making his next move in Utah. He is one of the best coaches in the country.
“When we recruited Matt Mooney, Craig was great for us in that transfer process. He’s a basketball boy who came right. I kind of followed his teams from a distance. “
Smith և Beard’s success has been recorded in schools, and many may consider it geographically isolated. Logan, 50,000, is located northeast of Utah, about 85 miles north of Salt Lake City. Lubok, with a population of 250,000, is located in northwestern Texas, more than 250 miles from the nearest major city (Fort Worth).
“Lubbock is not for everyone, Logan is not for everyone,” said Smith, who grew up in the small town of Steven in Minnesota. “Chris Bard loves Lubbock, Craig Smith loves Logan. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You have to collect under the rocks, you have to be open to many different avenues – be it international recruitment, transfer recruitment, high school recruitment – anything else. And then you really need to know who you are և look for the qualities that fit your plan. ”
Smith tried hard to get involved in international recruitment. Six players from five countries outside the United States are on the 15-man roster.
This includes the 7-foot Neemias Queta from outside Portugal. All-Mountain West’s first team selection կրկն The conference’s double defensive player of the year concludes the Aggies mantra. He is the only player in the country with more than 65 blocks (90) and more than 65 assists (71).
Although the turnaround was not as great as it was in Mayville, Utah rose immediately under Smith.
Aggies was on the Mountain Mountain above 500, only once in the five years prior to its arrival. In his first year, Smith collected the conference’s best classification collectors եց won the regular season title և the conference tournament.
Last year, they won the conference tournament again for the second consecutive NCAA automatic bid, but the national tournament was canceled due to a nationwide epidemic.
Utah lost three starting lineups, including NBA fighter Sam Merrill, և this season started with eight players who had never played a single minute for Agassi. They started with a score of 1-3. Smith tested positive for coronavirus and missed a three-point loss to BYU. Five games were postponed or canceled, պահ starting line-up Rolly Worster և Brock Miller struggling with injuries.
So far, the Aggies have twice beaten the standard-bearing San Diego State of Mountain West in the regular season before losing to the Aztecs in last Saturday’s conference title game.
“In my opinion,” said Miles, “he has done his best coaching job so far.”
In December, Smith signed a six-year, $ 5 million contract. It has not stopped; the name is not mentioned for bigger jobs, most recently in Minnesota. Among other things, the beard was associated with the opening of Indiana.
“Coach Miles always taught me at a young age to be where your feet are,” Smith said. “I like to train, I like where I am; just (try) to spend a lot of time where you are. Put everything you got into this team, into your team, do the best you can, and then whatever happens, it happens. ”
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