When Tony Shaver accepted the head coaching position at William and Mary in May of 2003, he set his sights on making the Tribe a winning program. Fast-forward seven years and the two-time CAA Coach of the Year and National Mid-Major Coach of the Year finalist has led a revival of the Green and Gold program. This past season, he once again took W&M to the brink of its first-ever CAA title and NCAA Tournament appearance, while in the process leading the College to the third-most wins in school history and its second-ever postseason bid in the National Invitational Tournament.
Shaver enters his eighth season with the College and 25th overall as one of the winningest active coaches in college basketball. He ranks 28th among active Division I head coach with 445 victories, while ranking 43rd in winning percentage at .645.
For the second time in the last three years, Shaver as named the CAA Coach of the Year in 2010 by a vote of the league coaches, SIDs and media, while also being named a finalist for the CollegeInsider.com Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year. Shaver also received National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 10 and Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) State Coach of the Year honors, while leading the Tribe to an impressive 22-11 record and the program’s second CAA Championship Game appearance in three seasons.
Under Shaver’s direction, the Tribe set or equaled a number of school records in 2009-10 and achieved milestones that few Mid-Major programs in America have accomplished. W&M ranked ninth nationally with a school-record 10 road wins. The College also tied program bests with a 10-game winning streak, the longest at the institution since 1929-30, and the best start in school history at 14-3. W&M received votes in both the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press National Top 25 polls for seven-straight weeks, marking the first votes for the Tribe in more than 30 years. The Tribe also garnered its first-ever CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 ranking. W&M was ranked in each of the final 15 weeks of the poll, including a best ranking of No. 8, before finishing the year at No. 20.
The Green and Gold became the first team ever to win a November game at Joel Coliseum over Wake Forest, 78-68, on Nov. 28 and the first unranked non-BCS school to win at the facility. The Tribe was also the only team to win at ACC regular season co-champion Maryland last season, downing the Terrapins, 83-77, on Dec. 30. W&M became the first league team since the establishment of the CAA to win two ACC road games in the same season. The Tribe is also just the sixth non-BCS school to win two ACC road games in the same season since the league was established in 1953.
W&M finished 2010 in third place in the CAA standings with the second-most league wins in school history (12). The Tribe was at its best in close games during the 2009-10 season. The College was 10-4 in games decided by three or fewer points, including a season-record 5-1 mark in one-point contests.
On the strength of its 60 RPI and wins over six RPI top 80 teams (three over RPI top 40 squads), the Tribe earned a bid to the NIT, marking only the secodn postseason apperance in school history. Despite falling to North Carolina in a game televised nationally, W&M set a school record with 16 3-pointers and led UNC, 72-69, with just over three minutes remaining in the contest. The Tribe’s 16 3-pointers against the Tar Heels was a signature of the entire W&M season. The Green and Gold hit a school and CAA record 295 3-pointers during the year. The Tribe ranked eighth nationally at 8.9 3-pointers per game. It marked the fourth-straight season in which the Green and Gold hit 200-plus 3-pointers.
Along with its success on the court, Tribe players have done their work in the classroom as well under Shaver. This past season, W&M had a team grade point average of nearly 3.0 at one of the toughest academic institutions in the country. Three of the Tribe’s five starters (Marcus Kitts, Quinn McDowell and David Schneider) were named to the CAA All-Academic team.
Shaver has also enjoyed success in recruiting. ESPN.com and Scouts, Inc. rated the Tribe’s 2010 recruiting class of Julian Boatner, Brandon Britt, Fred Heldring and Tim Rusthoven as one of the top mid-major classes in the country. ESPN and Scouts, Inc., also listed the quartet as the top group in the CAA.
In 2007-08, William and Mary posted its first winning season in a decade finishing with a 17-16 ledger. In fact, it was only the sixth time in school history that a Tribe team had won 17 or more contests. W&M also finished fifth in the league on the strength of a 10-8 CAA ledger. It marked only the second time in the Tribe’s 24-year history in the CAA that it has won double-digit games.
The program posted back-to-back 15-plus win seasons for the first time in a quarter of a century in 2006-07 and 2007-08. The Tribe also put together consecutive seasons with a .500 or better record for the first time in 23 years.
Shaver was voted the 2008 CAA Coach of the Year. The Shaver-led Tribe punctuated the honor by reeling off three-straight last-second wins on its way to the CAA Championship Game. Included in the run was a 56-54 win over regular season champion and No. 1 seed VCU in the semifinals. W&M won three contests to get to the championship game, matching the program’s victory total in the tournament from the previous 22 years. As a result of the title game appearance, W&M had its first-ever nationally televised game and made its first appearance on ESPN.
The Tribe accomplished numerous other milestones during the historic 2007-08 season. W&M established not only school records, but CAA marks for 3-pointers made (257) and attempted (755) in a season. Shaver engineered a quartet of double-digit comebacks for the Tribe in 2008, including three straight in wins over James Madison (1/9), at Georgia State (1/12) and against Northeastern (1/16). It marked the first time in school history W&M overcame two-straight double-digit second-half deficits, let alone three. The Tribe’s 16-point second-half comeback at Georgia State was the largest deficit that W&M overcame on the road in 15 years. Shaver also reached a coaching milestone of his own on December 31, 2007, winning his 400th collegiate coaching game as the Tribe defeated Fairfield, 71-50, at Kaplan Arena.
W&M demonstrated its mettle as a winning team with not only its ability to overcame deficits, but also with being able to win close games. The Tribe won more than half its games (nine) in 2007-08 when trailing at the half. W&M also won nine games by four or fewer points in 2007-08, bettering the total (six) from Shaver’s first four seasons. The Tribe put together a six-game CAA winning streak, which marked only the third such league winning streak in Tribe history. Shaver also guided the Tribe to four straight CAA road wins in 2008.
In 2006-07, Shaver earned CollegeInsider.com Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Tribe to a 15-15 record. Shaver also led his troops to eight wins during the tough CAA portion; only the third time the Tribe had accomplished that feat. Another telling stat of the progression of the program was the four CAA road victories, highlighted by a 67-63 win over 2006 Final Four participant George Mason. In Shaver’s first four seasons, W&M had won only three road affairs.
The 2006-07 season brought about a change in styles for the 31st W&M head coach. After spending much of his career coaching an up-tempo offense, featuring a trapping defense, Shaver switched over to a more perimeter-oriented attack. The Tribe offensive scheme now spreads the floor and relies on spacing, effective perimeter shooting and players reading and reacting to teammates’ cuts and motion. Defensively, W&M employs a plethora of defensive systems to throw off opposing offenses.
During the 2005-06 season, W&M started 4-1, marking the best start for the Tribe team against current Division I opponents in school history (the 1992-93 unit started 6-1, but played two non-DI opponents). Included in those four victories was a 70-60 win at Hampton, which went on to make the NCAA Tournament.
In November 2005, Shaver was inducted into the Episcopal High School Hall of Fame. He led EHS for 10 seasons from 1976-86. Shaver has been inducted into the Hall of Fame at both of his head coaching stops prior to taking over the reins at William and Mary. He was named to the Hampden-Sydney College Hall of Fame in 2004.
“It was a great thrill to return to the campuses of Episcopal High School and Hampden-Sydney College for the induction ceremonies,” Shaver said. “Episcopal and Hampden-Sydney are special places to my family.”
In his second season at the helm, W&M started the season on a high note, defeating Radford and Hartford to win the inaugural W&M Tip-Off Classic, the first regular season tournament title for the College since 1981. The Tribe defeated James Madison in the first round of the CAA Tournament for W&M’s first postseason win since 1997, and just the third in the last 20 years.
Shaver began his Tribe career with a 91-64 pounding of Liberty on Nov. 23, 2003. He also won his first Colonial Athletic Association contest, as the Tribe knocked off two-time defending league champion UNC Wilmington, 67-66, in overtime on Dec. 4, 2003. In the Tribe’s first contest against a nationally ranked opponent under Shaver’s direction, W&M performed well, leading No. 15 Pittsburgh by 10 points midway through the first half, before the Panthers, who attempted 28 more free throws than the Tribe, won 70-55.
There have been individual successes as well for the Green and Gold during Shaver’s tenure. On eight occasions, a W&M player has been named All-CAA under Shaver, while another five have been named to the CAA All-Rookie Team. Adam Hess, a 2004 graduate, became the first player in school history to lead the CAA in scoring. An outstanding student and athlete, Hess was named the CAA Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year (for all sports) and was a First-Team Academic All-American and all-conference selection as a senior. Corey Cofield was voted the 2004 CAA Rookie of the Year, leading all freshmen in the league in points, rebounds and field goal percentage.
W&M players have also enjoyed success in the classroom under Shaver, as on 14 occasions a Tribe player has been named to the CAA All-Academic team over the last seven seasons, including a program-high three in each of the last three years. This past season, senior David Schneider was named to the All-Academic first team for the third time, while also garnering the league’s prestigious Dean Ehlers Leadership Award. Schneider was the third CAA Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award under Shaver in 2008.
In total, six former W&M athletes who played under Shaver have gone on to professional careers overseas. Hess is starting his third season for Artland in the German Bundesliga, where he earned Second-Team All-Bundesliga honors in 2007. Fellow 2004 graduate Zeb Cope spent his seventh professional season overseas with JSF Naterre in the French Pro A League. It marked his fourth season in France. Adam Payton, a 2007 graduate of W&M, spent his second year with French squad Lille Metropole. He helped the organization to the French N1 League title and a promotion into the French Pro B League in 2009. Laimis Kisielius, who graduated in 2008, played last season in Latvia where he was an all-star and ranked among the league leaders in scoring and assists. 2010 graduates Danny Sumner (Finland) and David Schneider (England) both signed professional contracts in Europe this year.
Shaver was named the head coach of the Tribe on May 2, 2003. He came to W&M after coaching 17 seasons at Hampden-Sydney, compiling a record of 358-121 (.747). He turned the Tigers into a Division III national powerhouse, leading the men’s basketball team to eight Old Dominion Athletic Conference titles, 12 20-win seasons and 11 NCAA Division III Tournament appearances. The winningest basketball coach in the program’s history, he was named the ODAC and South Region Coach of the Year in 1995, 1999 and 2000, and was picked as the Virginia Sports Information Directors Division II-III Coach of the Year in 1997, 1999 and 2000.
In 2003, Shaver took the Tigers to the NCAA Division III Final Four, as his team finished with a record of 28-4. In 1999, Shaver led H-SC to the national championship game, where the Tigers lost by one point in double-overtime to Wisconsin-Platteville. The team finished 29-3, setting a school record for most wins in a season.
In 1999, one of Shaver’s charges, Jack Jirak, was named the ODAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was also awarded the Gammon Cup as the top-student-athlete at the college. Two of Shaver’s players, David Hobbs (1999) and Russell Turner (1992) earned Academic All-America honors. A number of his players have been named to the Academic All-ODAC squad, including six student-athletes in 1998.
Shaver first led the Tigers to the national postseason in 1988-89, just his third season as the team’s head coach. That year, H-SC won the ODAC championship, ending the season with a 21-8 record.
Prior to taking over at Hampden-Sydney for the 1986-87 campaign, Shaver spent 10 years as the head boys’ basketball coach at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. He was named the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association State Coach of the Year in 1986, and was twice picked as the Alexandria Coach of the Year, while winning 73 percent of his games.
A 1976 graduate of North Carolina, Shaver was a guard on the Tar Heel men’s basketball team from 1972-75 under head coach Dean Smith. Originally a walk-on, he earned a scholarship his rookie season, when he was awarded the prestigious Butch Bennett Award, presented to the freshman who exemplifies determination, sportsmanship and sacrifice for the team. Shaver was voted the honoree by his teammates. During his four years in Chapel Hill, UNC went 95-26, including a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament in 1975 and 1976. During the 1975 season, the Tar Heels won the ACC Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. During the 1973 and 1974 season, North Carolina made the National Invitational Tournament.
A native of High Point, North Carolina, Shaver and his wife, Ann, are the parents of three sons: Christopher (29), Austin (26) and Jackson (19). Christopher was a professional baseball pitcher and spent time in the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs organizations after a standout career with the Tribe baseball team. Austin is current director of basketball operations for the Tribe. Jackson is a sophomore on the William and Mary baseball team.
Tony Shaver’s Career Highlights Two-time CAA Coach of the Year (2008, 2010)
Two-time Finalist for the Hugh Durham CollegeInsider.com National Mid-Major Coach of the Year Award (2008, 2010)
CollegeInsider.com CAA Coach of the Year (2007, 2008)
Led W&M to the 2010 National Invitational Tournament
Eight ODAC Championships (1989, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002)
13 20-Win Seasons (1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2010)
11 NCAA Tournament Appearances (1989, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003)
Three-Time ODAC Coach of the Year (1995, 1999, 2000)
Three-Time South Region Coach of the Year (1995, 1999, 2000)
Four-Time VaSID State Coach of the Year (1997, 1999, 2000, 2010)
NABC District Coach of the Year (2010)