The Carleton Connection:
From player to coach: The Dave Smart Story
“We were fighting for a playoff spot most years,” said Armstrong. Smart was a good player, he said, and tried out for Carleton’s basketball team. But after the second day of tryouts Smart stopped showing up. “He cut himself because he blew out his knee,” said Armstrong.
Back in those days there was no Internet, so Armstrong could not track Smart down to find out what went wrong. The next time Armstrong encountered Smart he was playing for the Queen’s University Golden Gaels. “[Smart] could do so many things, a lot like his nephew Mike [Smart],” said Armstrong. “He could penetrate and shoot the three.”
Smart used to engage in epic battles on the court with Carleton’s star player of the time, Taffe Charles. Now the two men are members of the same coaching staff. But Dave Smart the coach could not deal with Dave Smart the player, said Armstrong. “[Smart] would have been a nightmare to coach. He was kind of irreverent back then,” he said. “I’m sure there would have been some benchings going on and some chatting in the coach’s office.”
Smart helped Queen’s compete and dropped nearly 30 points per game. After university Smart got heavily involved with coaching in eastern Ontario. Armstrong tried several times to coax Smart into coaching with him. Other universities were recruiting players from the Ottawa area and Smart was well known for coaching youth teams. Armstrong said he thought Smart would be perfect for Carleton.
After a couple years of prodding Smart finally accepted a job as an assistant coach. “The first year I asked him to be the bad cop to my good cop,” said Armstrong. “He does a pretty good job there.”
Several Carleton players have experienced Smart’s bad cop routine and have walked away better players. “He has extremely high standards, but when you do meet them he’s the first to say,” said fifth-year veteran Shawn McCleery.
Armstrong credited Smart with bringing an attitude shift to the program. With a young family, Armstrong thought it was time to leave the high-stress coaching industry. “Obviously having Dave in the kitty made the decision even easier,” he said. Smart’s passion for basketball is what makes him so special, Armstrong continued. “He loves it so much that the stress seems to go off.”
Spectators at a Carleton game might think Smart is miserable because he is constantly reaming out his players. But Armstrong said that isn’t the case. “Like all of us coaches, he’s looking for that perfect game and it is never going to be there,” said Armstrong. And what can’t be denied, he said, is Smart’s success and drive. “I knew Dave would win a national championship.”
Star guard Osvaldo Jeanty has played five years under Smart, and said the passionate coach is a big part of his success. “He has made me a better basketball player and a better person.”
Posted Apr. 2/05 By Suzanne Jordan
They’ve done it again—and the whole city was talking about it.
The Ravens men’s basketball team came home heroes from Halifax with a third national championship title under their belt.
They’re used to winning, having won all but one regular and post season games in the past three years. Still, the thrill of victory hasn’t waned.
“The first time we won was so amazing, and repeating it last year was even better. I really can’t believe we’ve done it again. It’s an awesome feeling. This is the best team, and I’m so glad to have been a part of it. Everyone was out there playing their best,” says Mike Smart, who was voted Championship MVP.
The Ravens’ unbelievable winning streak hasn’t entirely been an easy ride though, says Head Coach Dave Smart. “These guys go out and work hard every game. There are no easy wins, which we’ve seen with some close calls,” he says. “It’s especially important when you get to the final ten teams not to take anything for granted. Sure we could have a long track of wins behind us, but you have to focus on the game in play. When you’re on the court in a final game at the national championship, that’s the only game that matters.”
Third-year guard, Osvaldo Jeanty was named MVP of the championship game for a record third straight time, scoring 24 points, including an incredible record of eight three-point baskets.
Jeanty will be back next year and will hopefully help the team maintain its solid reign. The team says goodbye, however, to two graduating veterans, Mike Smart and Matt Ross. Fortunately, neither one of them will feel far away with Smart’s uncle Dave and brother Rob as team coaches, and Matt’s younger brother Pat still running the court.
“It’s been an unbelievable five years. It’s hard to leave this behind, we’ve had such a great run, and it’s a great team to be part of,” says Matt Ross.
Head Coach Dave Smart seconds the notion. “That’s the other important factor. It’s a great team. It’s not about one player or another, it’s about working together. The roster has changed a lot in each of the last three years, but what’s kept us on top, I think, is the way these guys can work together.”
DAVE SMART AND GREG FRANCIS NAMED SENIOR MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ASSISTANT COACHES - 2005
Canada Basketball Senior Men’s National Team head coach Leo Rautins together with executive director and C.E.O. Fred Nykamp announced that Carleton University Ravens head coach Dave Smart and men’s national development coach Greg Francis have been named as assistant coaches to the Senior Men’s National Team.
Both Smart and Francis will continue to remain in their existing positions with Carleton University and Canada Basketball respectively.
Currently in his sixth season as the head coach of the Ravens, Smart recently guided Carleton to a third consecutive CIS Men’s National Championship (2003-05). During his tenure with Carleton, the Ravens have won 139 games while losing only 16. With Smart at the helm, the university has captured three consecutive OUA Championships (2003-05) and five straight OUA East Regular Season Championships (2000-05). In addition, Smart has guided Carleton to 78 consecutive OUA and CIS regular season and post-season victories.
Among his numerous coaching awards, Smart has twice been named the CIS National Coach of the Year (2003, 2005) and has been selected the OUA East Coach of the Year four times (2001-03, 2005).
At the provincial level, Smart previously served as the head coach of the Ontario Junior Boys from 1999 to 2000. During that time the native of Ottawa led the squad to back-to-back gold medals at the Canadian Junior Boy’s (Under-19) National Championships.