Rex Walters, 38, a former University of Kansas star and an NBA veteran, is hard at work rebuilding the University of San Francisco’s men’s basketball program. After three years as head coach at Florida Atlantic University, Walters took over as USF head coach in April.
He sat down with USF Magazine for a pre-season interview
to answer questions about his “harder, smarter, and more together” approach to the game, and what fans can look
Q: What does “harder, smarter, and more together” mean?
A: “Harder” means winning loose balls, diving on the floor, and sprinting back on defense to make a play that wouldn’t have been made otherwise. “Smarter” means knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and making your teammate’s job easier. “More together” means sharing the ball more and supporting each other in good times and bad times.
Q: What will surprise fans about this year’s team?
A: It’s going to be a different year, from the standpoint that we’ll have 11 scholarship players that haven’t been coached by me before. But, I hope fans will see a big improvement as the season progresses.
Q: What will be USF’s toughest conference game?
A: Gonzaga, because they are not a one-hit wonder. They know and understand what it takes to be successful. I want that to be a big game for us, because I want it to be a true rivalry game that draws fans. I want Gonzaga to know that they are in for a fight to the end.
Q: What has been the training focus leading up to the 2008-09 season tip-off?
A: I’m trying to walk the line with training smarter, rather than overtraining. That means keeping it to one practice a day during the academic year, but ramping up to two practices a day, and maybe a film session, when we have time off from school.
Q: Where do you see room for improvement?
A: I want the team to play with more confidence, to take care of the ball, pressure the ball defensively, and get the high-percentage shots.
Q: What are you pleased with?
A: We are very athletic. Our team can run and jump with anyone in the league, but that’s the easy part.
Q: Having coached most recently at Florida Atlantic, what do you think about USF fans so far?
A: We have got to build a true fan base with our students. We want to give USF students, alums, and the San Francisco community something to be excited about. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re working hard to make that happen.
For the complete men’s basketball schedule and updates on USF athletics, visit usfdons.com.