Head coach Shaka Smart came to Richmond in 2009 and began building and branding his Havoc program, but it’s not just about basketball for this coach. Shaka is a unique blend of scholar, athlete, and leader who utilizes this combination to inspire his players to strive for more on the court, in the classroom, and in the community.
These days you can’t watch a VCU game without references to the Havoc defense and opinions on its merits from the commentators. Often the debate is can the other team withstand 40 minutes of the full court pressure or can they slow the pace and keep some control. The frenzied pace is a result of intense conditioning including pre-season Seal Team Physical Training, also referred to as hell week, to make sure the team is mentally and physically prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. In true lead by example fashion Shaka and staff join the players in this annual exercise of Seal Team Training.
Shaka is the perpetual scholar. He is known for his passion for researching and collecting motivational and inspirational quotes. He advocates academic excellence and preparing his student-athletes for success beyond the court and classroom stating his “number 1 goal is to help our guys be the best they can be…and really realize the potential they really have”. He summarizes his thoughts in the VCU Make it real series.
Giving back is also a focus and one of the ways the team gets out into the community is their annual “Shop with the Rams” event which celebrated its 4th year in December 2013. The players, coaches, and staff escort local children around a Target store with a $100 gift card per child and help them select gifts for their families. It provides great perspective on the truly great opportunities and support these student-athletes receive via the athletic program and allows them to pay it forward by spreading a little holiday cheer with the local Boys & Girls Club.