Basketball

Kyle Smith and WSU agree to 6 years at $1.4 million annually

The search is over and rumors are true, Kyle Smith is the next head coach for WSU Hoops.

Kyle Smith, former head basketball coach of the San Francisco Dons, has reached a six-year deal with Washington State University to become the schools next head basketball coach.

Theo Lawson at The Spokesman-Review broke the news Wednesday. Smith’s annual pay will match that of his predecessor, Ernie Kent, at $1.4 million according to Lawson.


Smith is the 19th head coach in program history. He previously served head coaching gigs at Columbia before resurrecting dormant San Francisco. Between the two, he has nine years of head coaching experience and an overall record of 164-122.

Smith has won at least 20 games in five season, and had a losing record just twice in his head coaching career. His post-season success is highlighted by a CIT championship in 2016 with Columbia.

He spent years as an assistant at San Diego, Air Force, and Saint Mary’s before ascending into his Ivy League role. He has many coaching tree ties, but the most notable of which comes from Saint Mary’s Randy Bennett and the heavy use of analytics.

Smith has since taken the use of analytics to the extreme. He and his staff record over 50 different figures every practice to correctly identify what works and what doesn’t. And at the end of the day, numbers have the final say regardless of preconceived notions – even those of his own – via the “eye test.”

Journalist Brian Bennett at The Athletic compared Smith’s approach to the Oakland Athletics and “Moneyball.” In response, Smith coined his own term “Nerdball.”

As for scheme, Smith leans heavily toward the Princeton offense. A slow-tempo system complimented by off-ball motion, picks, cuts, and plenty of communication. And while Smith doesn’t run Tony Bennett’s beloved “Pack Line” defense, his man-to-man approach with a focus on protecting the rim is cut from a similar philosophy.

Washington State Athletics requested a budget increase of $500,000 to make the hire. The Board of Regents meets Thursday to discuss and vote on the matter.

The board has been favorable to athletics recently – approving a $3.5 million loan for the new baseball facility last January – despite the departments projected $85-million deficit.

(Top photo: Jack Ellis – Cougar Sports Network)


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