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Matt Cotcher

Shaka Smart announces complete basketball staff (article & bio's)

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Posted by Matt Cotcher, in Texas Basketball 09 April 2015 · 21 views
On Thursday, new men's basketball head coach Shaka Smart announced the complete staff that will join him at UT. In addition to assistant coaches David Cason, Darrin Horn, and Mike Morrell, Smart chose Daniel Roose to head the strength and conditioning program. Jai Lucas was retained and will serve as the Director of Basketball Operations and Denny Kuiper was named Special Assistant.

Courtesy of the UT Sports Information Department, below is brief biographical information on the new staff. (For full bio's, use the link provided in the name.)


David Cason
Cason served as an assistant coach at VCU during the 2014-15 season. The Rams posted a 26-10 overall record, including a 12-6 mark in the Atlantic 10 Conference and a No. 25 ranking in the final AP poll. VCU captured the 2015 Atlantic 10 Tournament championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round before falling to Ohio State (75-72) in overtime. This marked the program’s first A10 title and ninth overall conference title for VCU. The Rams became the first team since Xavier in 2006 to win four games in four days at the A10 Tournament.

Cason worked for three years (2011-14) as an assistant at Vanderbilt under Kevin Stallings and helped the Commodores post a 56-43 (.566) record. Vanderbilt registered a 25-11 mark in 2011-12, won the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Tournament championship for the first time in 60 years (1952) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Third Round.

Darrin Horn
During his nine seasons as a head coach (2003-12), Horn posted an overall record of 171-111 (.606) and guided his teams to one NCAA Tournament and three Postseason NIT appearances. Every player who completed his eligibility under Horn, both at South Carolina and Western Kentucky, earned his degree. Prior to his hire at Texas, Horn worked for the last three years as a college basketball analyst with ESPN and the SEC Network.

Horn spent four years as head coach at South Carolina (2008-12), recording a 60-63 (.488) overall mark and leading the Gamecocks to one Postseason NIT appearance. In his first season (2008-09), he led South Carolina to a 21-10 mark and a Southeastern Conference Eastern Division Co-Championship with a 10-6 league record. The Gamecocks recorded their first 20-win season and made their first postseason appearance (NIT First Round) since 2005-06.

Mike Morrell
Morrell served as an assistant coach at VCU under Smart for the past two seasons (2013-14 and 2014-15), when the Rams posted a 52-19 (.732) overall mark, won the 2015 Atlantic 10 Tournament championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in both years. He was the director of basketball operations at VCU in 2011-12 and 2012-13, when he handled the Rams’ day-to-day operations and oversaw team travel, scheduling and practice schedules.

During Morrell’s four seasons at VCU (2011-15), the Rams posted an overall record of 108-35 (.755) and made four NCAA Tournament appearances. VCU was ranked in the final Associated Press poll in 2012-13 (No. 25), 2013-14 (No. 24) and 2014-15 (No. 25), a program first.

Daniel Roose
Roose served as Director of Sports Performance for Men’s Basketball during each of Smart’s six seasons at VCU (2009-15). The Rams posted an overall record of 163-56 (.744) and made five NCAA Tournament appearances.Prior to his arrival at VCU, Roose spent two years at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (2007-09). He oversaw the strength and conditioning program of all 16 athletic teams for the Braves. Roose served as a graduate assistant at Marshall University for one season (2004-05) and then transitioned into a role as director of strength and conditioning at Marshall for three years (2005-07). He worked directly with the basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball teams, but oversaw and designed training programs for all 15 varsity sports for the Thundering Herd. He also spent one year (2003-04) at Campbell University, serving as the head strength and conditioning coach for the Camels.

Jai Lucas
Lucas spent the past two seasons (2013-14 and 2014-15) as a special assistant on the coaching staff at Texas. In that role, he assisted in all internal operations of the basketball program.

Prior to joining the Texas staff, Lucas played three seasons professionally. He played two years in the National Basketball Association Development League (NBA D-League), where he saw action with the Idaho Stampede (2012-13) and the Canton Charge (2013), and one year overseas in Latvia with BK Valmiera in the Baltic Basketball League (2011-12).

“I had the opportunity to work with Jai as an assistant coach at Florida, and I was really impressed by his understanding of the game and ability to relate to his teammates at that time,” Smart said. “Fast forward seven-plus years, I’ve been incredibly impressed with him in the short time since I arrived here. Everyone I have talked to, including our players, has spoken glowingly about him and his impact on this program. Jai played here and is from the state of Texas, and he has terrific relationships around Texas. Most importantly, he has phenomenal potential in this profession.”

Denny Kuiper
Kuiper has spent the previous 14 years as a sports communication consultant, working with several college and high school sports teams and individual coaches to develop positive team chemistry, relationships, trust, open communication and a healthy environment. He assisted coaches and athletes on developing their mental and emotional capacity to become better teams and athletes.

Kuiper worked as consultant with VCU’s 2011 Final Four and Marquette’s 2003 Final Four teams. He also took a series of college all-star teams overseas during the summers from 2004-07 to Chile, Slovenia, Austria and Spain.

In 2008, he authored the book “Know Yourself as a Coach,” which focuses on developing the mental side of coaching, assessing one’s coaching style, analyzing where one’s strengths and weaknesses lie, and honing one’s people skills.

Prior to his time as a consultant and author, Kuiper worked for 30 years as a guidance counselor and coach. He got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Central Michigan University, in 1971-72. Kuiper served as head coach at Mount Pleasant (Mich.) Sacred Heart High School for three years (1973-76), leading his team to the Class D state championship in 1975. 

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5 offseason questions on the Big 12



2. How will Shaka Smart fare at Texas?

He should do very well this season. Smart inherits a veteran team from Rick Barnes that boasts six of its top eight scorers from last year's squad that reached the NCAA Tournament and lost to Butler in the Round of 64. The Longhorns also added another quality big man in Maryland transfer Shaquille Cleare and three freshmen -- Eric Davis, Kerwin Roach, and Tevin Mack -- that were ranked among the Top-50 players in the Class of 2015 by most recruiting services. It will be interesting to see how Smart adapts to having more size at his disposal and how much that alters the frenetic pace he implemented at VCU. Another thing that will be interesting to follow? Texas' 2016 recruiting class. The Longhorns will lose five players after this season and could lose a sixth if Isaiah Taylor opts to leave school for the NBA as many people anticipate. Smart's first recruiting class in Austin is going to be a pivotal one if he hopes to build on the foundation he laid by keeping Davis and Roach as well as adding Mack, who initially committed to play for him at VCU. Smart separated himself in the Atlantic 10 because he was the only coach in the league to lead a program to a Final Four, but the Big 12 is a different breed of cattle. Sixty percent of the coaches in this conference have led a program to a Final Four and that doesn't include TCU's Trent Johnson whose led two schools -- Nevada and Stanford -- to the Sweet 16 or Scott Drew whose led Baylor to a pair of appearances in the Elite Eight.



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Big 12 Summer School: Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa St. aim for Final Four



2. Shaka Smart takes over for Rick Barnes at Texas

Barnes made the NCAAs all but one of his 17 seasons with Texas. That's an amazing accomplishment, truly. But when you've been at a place for that long, have recruited so much NBA talent and go seven straight years without making the second weekend, perhaps a change is in order. Barnes is a good guy and didn't deserve to be fired, but most could see why UT wanted to start anew and see what it could do with a younger and vibrant guy like Smart. Give the Longhorns all of three years to be back in the running to win the league. To watch how Texas will play Smart's style, but with four- and five-star guys? Going to be really enjoyable.


3. The AD situation at Texas has been a melodrama all to itself

This expose of sorts on Texas athletic director Steve Patterson had so many people in college athletics buzzing in late June. It had coaches and writers talking to Smart about his new job and his new boss. Hey, Smart did the write thing in taking a top-10 job in the sport. And most of Patterson's existing turmoil with others stems with the football program. But it's rare you see so publicly an AD -- and he's only been there 21 months -- embattled like this. You've never read an article like the one linked above. Hopefully Smart will be able to run his program the way he wants it, and we can see Texas become the power it's capable of being.



TEXAS.png Texas I'm going low on UT in Smart's first season, but I'll qualify and say finishing third is the ceiling. Taylor will need help. Let's wait and see.




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