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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Former Jayhawk Walters: Coach Daly a special man

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Rex Walters held a coaching clinic at the University of San Francisco last Aug. 31, just 41⁄2 months after the former Kansas University basketball guard was hired as head coach at the West Coast Conference school.

The Dons’ 39-year-old mentor was able to attract 100 coaches from all levels to USF’s War Memorial Gym, thanks in large part to Hall of Fame coach Chuck Daly, the camp’s headline speaker who died Saturday at the age of 78.

“He was a special, neat man. He flew across the country (from his home in Florida) to help a young coach who played for him one year,” said Walters, who played for Daly’s New Jersey Nets in 1993-94.

“Coach Daly had everybody on the edge of their seat at the clinic. He talked about his life, handling players, all the intricacies of being a coach.

“He was the best I’ve been around in terms of handling players,” added Walters, who also played for Larry Brown and Pat Riley in the pros and Roy Williams in college.

“He was like a psychiatrist in the way he handled every situation. He got the most out of his players. I’ve never seen anyone get the most out of a guy like he could.”

Walters, who compiled an 11-19 record in his first year at USF — a program down on its luck the last several years — says he’s taken something from all of his former coaches into his head-coaching career.

“Coach Williams had such a big impact. I’ve been blessed. All the coaches I played for shared things with me and taught me there’s different ways to do things,” Walters said.

Yet he’s definitely his own man.

Walters has done some innovative things at USF, a school located in the Bay Area, where Walters was born and raised.

• He sent assistant coach Danny Yoshikawa to Europe for a couple of weeks during the 2008-09 season. The trip paid off. The Dons signed Tomas Bruha, a 7-footer from Prague, Czech Republic, as well as Moustapha Diarra, 6-10 from Marseille, France, and Nikola Stojiljkovic, 6-8 from Paris.

“He went to Spain, Germany, France. We plan on doing it again,” Walters said of recruiting overseas.

• He spoke to USF supporters an hour before all home games in the Bill Russell room — named after the former Dons’ center.

“I’ll walk in there at 6 o’clock for a 7 o’clock game and spend 20 minutes with them,” Walters said. “I’m just an honest person. I am not as smart as coach Daly, but I speak from my heart on what we need to do (to win that game).”

He appreciates the audience.

“The great thing about the University of San Francisco is people are so into basketball here,” Walters said. “You see the pride they have in the program. They want it to be successful.”

• He uses Internet Web sites Facebook and Twitter in an effort to use technology to help in recruiting.

Walters, in fact, first learned of coach Daly’s passing on Facebook on Saturday morning and answered a reporter’s interview request via a Twitter instant message Saturday night.

“We do need to promote the program. We want kids to know what I’m about,” Walters said of using Twitter (twitter.com), which is a messaging Web site in which individuals can communicate to the world in short updates of 140 characters or less.

“You can’t contact kids (recruits) as much as you could in the past. I want my players and prospective players to know what I’m about. One way to do that is electronically on the Internet.”

Walters’ Twitter account — for those who seek to follow him — is under the name “jayhawk23.”

He, of course, was No. 23 during a two-year KU career (1991-92, ’92-93) in which he helped KU snag two Big 12 titles and reach the 1993 Final Four.

He was the Big Eight male athlete of the year in 1993.

“It’s always something I’ve used,” Walters said of “jayhawk23” being his Internet identity.

“It’s never going to change,” he added of being a Jayhawk for life. “I obviously watch them on TV. I get to see Kurtis (Townsend, KU assistant) from time to time since he’s from the Bay Area. Danny has been great to me throughout the years,” he added of KU aide Danny Manning.

The KU fans showed how they still feel about him back in November of 2007 when he received a standing ovation during introductions before his Florida Atlantic team’s loss to the Jayhawks. Walters compiled a 31-33 record (18-18 in Sun Belt Conference games) in two seasons at FAU before heading to USF.

One KU fan held a sign that read, “Welcome Back, Sexy Rexy.”

“It was very special. That introduction was very, very nice, and it did touch my heart," Walters said at the time. “It means an awful lot to me for them to show that much respect and love.

“Some day I'll probably make my home here. Even though it's cold as hell,” he joked. “This place is so special.”

Comments

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 8 months ago

Walter's has always been a class act in his own way.

Greg Lux 10 years, 8 months ago

Rex is a special Jayhawk ... He's definitely a class act ..

Rock Chalk

hawk316 10 years, 8 months ago

Walters was a fiery competitor who hustled his rear end off, as well as being a gifted athlete. The Jayhawk Nation was blessed to have him wear the crimson and blue, albeit for an all-too-brief two seasons. Best of luck to you, Rex!

kansaspike 10 years, 8 months ago

Still my favorite KU player I think. I wanted to learn to shoot left handed growing up, just b/c Rex was so damn smooth!

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Talk about Story Angle Degrees of Freedom!

The corpse of Chuck Daly is remembered by the coach of USF who once played for the live body of Chuck Daly for one season some time after playing for KU for two...

This story has to have the people of Lawrence and fans of KU basketball on the edges of their geezer toilets.

Editing Alert!

Scott MacWilliams 10 years, 8 months ago

hey Jaybate,

Editing alert??

  1. It's a slow college hoops news day.
  2. Rex was a great player and role model.
  3. Its always great to hear about where they've gone and been successful.
  4. As I recall, Rex was one of the first Roy W. California recruits, and supposedly led to many more following his tracks.

Michael Auchard 10 years, 8 months ago

I have a policy of not belittling any post-season articles -- good, bad, ugly. I would rather read these than anything about Missouri winning a softball game or two or whatever else happens in the Big XII during these months.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Yahweh,

In addition to remaining a god whose name I dare not speak, you are wise and your wisdom has telepathically lead me to the following satoris.

It is better to eat pork in a Yeshiva, than to read about Fizzou doing anything.

It is better to distribute condoms in a Baptist tent revival in Alabama, than to read about Fizzou doing anything.

It is better to serve falafels with one's left hand in a Middle Eastern mosque, than to read about Fizzou doing anything.

It is better to serve steaks to a Hindu, than to read about Fizzou doing anything.

It is even better to fornicate with a chinchilla, than to read about Fizzou doing anything.

These are the things it is better to do.

Thank you, Yahweh, for these satoris.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

GBJayhawk,

I stand before you ashamed of myself, riddled with self-loathing, hands wrung to the carpals, seeking forgiveness from you, and perhaps even our own Yahweh.

I vow on all that is basketball holy never again to poke fun at a headline and a story referring to a dead Piston Bad Boy coach who suffered through life with an endless succession of bad hair days and who had as far as I can tell essentially next to nothing to do with The Legacy.

This I vow.

As penance, I will publicly humiliate myself by singing a few bars from a song from Babs Streisand's remarkable "Yentl" and I hope this will compensate for my transgression...

"Papa, can you hear me? Papa, can you see me? Papa can you find me in the night?

Amen.

Post Script: Seriously, I too enjoyed hearing about Rex Walters. He was a heckuva good player and I have been very excited for USF and for him from the moment they hired him. I once lived in The City and have thought for years that the program could and should be resuscitated. I just thought headlining the story with Daly was kind of silly. I do apologize if you feel I slighted one of our own. It was unintended. I'm actually a fan of Walters.

kerbyd 9 years, 7 months ago

Jaybate scolding someone about editing. What a Joke!

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