Daryl Smith, RU class of '92, played in four consecutive post-seasons at Rutgers.
He now runs a successful basketball-specific strength and conditioning business,
while also doing the same for Kevin Boyle's national powerhouse St Patrick's
program. SOR spoke with Daryl about RU targets Quintrell Thomas and Dexter Strickland,
the importance of hard work, discipline, and pride, and his days at RU.
(L to R) Corey Chandler, Daryl Smith,
Dexter Strickland, Corey Fisher
To RU basketball aficionado's, the name Daryl Smith must surely conjure up very fond memories. Daryl was then new RU Head Coach Bob Wenzel's very first recruit at RU, and no doubt neither of them could possibly have envisioned what their first year at Rutgers (in actuality Wenzel's first year at RU as a coach, as he was returning to his alma mater) would hold in store. Taking over a team that won just 7 games the year before (and just 23 total the three previous years); Wenzel helped orchestrate what ranks as one of the most magical seasons in RU history. Rutgers would win 18 games in Wenzel and Smith's first year, but of most significance was that last win, which captured the Atlantic 10 championship - and put RU in the NCAA tournament.
All told, Daryl's career at RU saw him play in two NCAA's and two NIT's. To this writer, the moment that stands out the most from Daryl's playing days occurred on Dec 7th, 1991, against UNLV at the RAC. RU won that game in overtime 91-to-85 - one of the only two losses the Runnin' Rebels endured that year (which also was Jerry Tarkanian's last at UNLV). I can still vividly picture Daryl stealing the ball and going in uncontested for a reverse jam, a momentum-changing moment that had the RAC roaring, and which prompted a Tarkanian timeout. That was Daryl's senior year at RU, and he was seeing a lot of playing time then. It wasn't always that way for him at RU, for as a freshman he didn't play much. It was back then that he realized the value of hard work and keeping in the best shape possible.
"I wasn't a big recruit coming out of high school, and in my first year at Rutgers, I was playing behind a 20 point per game scorer (Tom Savage)", Daryl explained. "I knew I was going to have to work my butt off in the off-season, and that's what I did. It got to the point where I was busting guys so bad in practice that they had to play me". That kind of dedication, and seeing how it paid off, are some of the things he learned and developed while at Rutgers. "At RU, I learned time management and how to think independently, outside the box. I learned how to find your way around and to make things happen". Part of that dedication and discipline was no doubt instilled in him from his father Dave Smith, a four-year player in the NFL. But as Daryl explained, "Even when he was working a 9 to 5, he still stressed the same things. He made me realize that I wasn't just chasing a pipe dream".
It's that kind of focus and dedication that Daryl now brings to his training
program, and what he hopes to impart to the young people he works with. "I
try to show these kids that sports is life, and to help them develop life-transferable
skills. A lot of these kids just spend so much time chasing a dream and just
playing AAU ball, and it winds up being for naught". That observation was
part of the impetus for helping him get started. "I saw a lot of kids chasing
a pipe dream fostered by people who didn't have their best interests at heart.
I try and show these kids that in life you have to work hard, that nothing is
going to be given to you", he said.
That is what appears to give Daryl the greatest reward from something that he's been doing for 4 years now, and which has only continued to grow: "The books, DVD's, speaking at camps, it's nice, but it's just a way for me to give back. I realized I had a gift for this".
One person that certainly feels that Daryl indeed has a gift for this is Kevin Boyle, head coach at national powerhouse St Patrick's. For the last three years Daryl has been running the strength, conditioning, speed, agility, and off-season player fundamentals and development for the Elizabeth school. "It's a sense of family", he explained. "It's about the kids, and it's very rewarding to help these young men become the best person they can be. You get back what you give out". Among the fortunate recipients of Daryl's life lessons at St Pat's are Quintrell Thomas and Dexter Strickland.
About Quintrell, Daryl had this to say: "He's developing, he's learned a lot. Like a lot of the kids who play so much AAU ball, they get a lot of playing but not a lot of coaching and developing. He needs to work hard, and we're trying to get him to work on his foot work. We're trying to get him to be able to play on the perimeter. A lot of the top players have a go-to move, and a counter move, and that's what we're trying to develop with Quintrell". When asked then if Quintrell Thomas is a player who's perhaps just scratched the surface and for who the sky is potentially the limit, Daryl replied: "Absolutely". As for Dexter Strickland, he said: "I'm his biggest fan. I'm also his biggest critic. He's one of the most athletic players in the state. He can be a Gilbert Arenas-type player, but he needs to forget the hype and realize that it's not what's on the internet or in the papers that's what's important, it's what you do on the court".
To check out what it is that Daryl does, click here.