Shaka Smart
Mar 24, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Shaka Smart reacts during the second half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Gainbridge FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Shaka Smart, Former Gators Assistant, Has Marquette in Sweet 16

Shaka Smart, head coach of the Marquette Golden Eagles, lead his team to the Sweet 16 after defeating the Colorado Buffaloes Sunday 81-77.  Marquette advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013, and Smart returns to the Sweet 16 for the first time as a head coach since 2011.

The former Gators assistant was emotional after the Round of 32 win.

Smart led the VCU Rams to the Final Four in 2011 before becoming the head coach of the University of Texas in 2015. However, he had an underwhelming coaching tenure in Austin, failing to make it to the Sweet 16 with the Longhorns.

Gator Highlights

Smart joined Florida’s coaching staff in 2008. In his first year during the 2008-09 season, under head coach Billy Donovan, the Gators recorded a 25-11 record while reaching the quarterfinals of the NIT. Smart made history with the team, helping secure the fifth most wins in school history. Additionally, he was a key factor in UF’s scouting efforts. Though, it was a short stint for Smart with the Gators, as he became the VCU head coach in 2009.


Smart’s career is highlighted by VCU’s historic 2011 Final Four run. As a No. 11-seed, Smart led the Rams from the First Four to the Final Four. They fell to Butler in the semifinal. With VCU, he led the program to a NCAA Tournament appearance in all but one season.

With Texas, Smart led the Longhorns to a Big 12 Championship with a win over Oklahoma State in 2021.

Additionally, he was named Men’s AP coach of the year in 2023 with the Golden Eagles.

What’s Next?

After beating Western Kentucky in the Round of 64, and Colorado in the Round of 32, No. 2-seed Marquette will now face the No. 11-seed NC State Wolfpack Friday. The Golden Eagles will look to halt the Wolfpack’s Cinderella run, as they’ve won seven games in a row. Tip-off is set for 7:09 p.m. in Dallas, Texas.

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