At left is Shaka Smart in the 2011 Southwest Regional Final. You may remember that his VCU Rams upset Kansas in that game to advance to the Final Four.
At right is Shaka Smart in Thursday's second-round NCAA tournament game against Wichita State.
Same shirt, same tie, same result.
[ Related: Shaka's motivational tactic ]
VCU upset the fifth-seeded Shockers 62-59 to advance to a third-round game against the winner of Indiana and New Mexico State. He did it while wearing an identical outfit to the one he wore on that March night one year ago.
The wardrobe might have been the same, but Smart told reporters the two teams are very different:
"Honestly, we won 29 games already this year. And last year's team only won 28. We won our conference tournament. Last year's team lost in the conference championship game. So in a lot of ways we've done better than what last year's team did. [...]
"Last year we bombed in threes at a ridiculous rate. And we were just able to not blow teams out, but we were able to go on runs, like 20‑5 runs where we hit four or five threes over the course of five to six minutes. This year we have a good shooting team, but nowhere near as good. [...] We grind it out better, we get after people a little bit more."
Whenever Smart's offseason begins, he'll be one of the hottest coaching candidates in the country. Fan bases with coaching vacancies already have their eyes on the 34-year-old Smart. Illinois fans even noticed that Smart's tie matches their school's colors.
That's wishful thinking for now. Shaka still has five ties in his closet from last year's tournament he'd like to wear this March.
Big thanks to @davetelep for the tip.
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- Shaka Smart