INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Shaka Smart pulled off one of the most memorable Cinderella runs in NCAA Tournament history, taking VCU from the First Four to the Final Four in 2011.
But as Texas coach, Smart is 1-3 in three tournament appearances during his six seasons. Twice his Longhorns have been knocked out in the first round by mid-majors with improbable last-second finishes.
Texas was bounced from the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed Saturday night, 53-52 by in-state rival Abilene Christian, in a turnover-filled performance that left the Longhorns stunned.
“It feels like a bad dream,” senior guard Matt Coleman said. “I haven’t woke up yet.”
A lot of Texas fans think Smart has been a disappointment in Austin, and wonder if he’s worth his $3.2 million salary.
Coleman isn’t having any of that.
“He can’t win a game for us,” Coleman said. “He’s not on the court. It’s not on him.”
Smart is 109-86 at Texas. He seemed like a slam dunk hire in 2015 after he had turned VCU into an NCAA Tournament regular. But even with the Rams, he never was able to come close to repeating the magic of 2011.
His first season with the Longhorns ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when Northern Illinois’ Paul Jesperson hit a buzzer-beating, half-court game-winner. That Texas team was seeded sixth.