March madness officially began last week, and did so with some incredible finishes to pair with wild upsets.
It also was, what I believe, just as the beginning for the Marquette Golden Eagles under head coach Shaka Smart.
On Friday, the Golden Eagles secured their first NCAA Tournament win in 10 years after defeating Vermont, but, unfortunately fell short in the round of 32 to Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans.
Despite the loss, I truly believe something special is happening in Milwaukee under the leadership of Coach Smart and President Mike Lovell.
And, yeah, I know, this after coming off a loss in which they were the higher seed may seem a little wacky but hear me out here…
Prior to this season, this team was predicted to finish NINTH in the Big East to go along with 12 or so wins.
Instead, they won 29, most in school history, and snagged a few titles along the way. Securing their first Big East regular season title in program history and then going on to win the Big East tourney, their first ever as well since joining the conference in 2005.
It’s a program, that, let’s keep it real, has not been good or even consistent prior to the hire of Smart.
And, like most fans, people will gravitate towards the post-season record of Shaka Smart, who is 1-8 in his last 9 tournament appearances as a head coach, but I will not.
Instead, I’ll look at his 47-19 record since taking over, and give him more than two seasons to establish himself in this program, and this city.
I truly believe that, with his leadership, the environment he has established, and the fact that 98% of his team is returning, where all five of his starters are also back for the Golden Eagles is immeasurable.
Bottom line – Once again, the expectations are high at Marquette, and that’s in big thanks to coach Smart.