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Chris Beard Press Conference (Sept 27) (via Seth Fowler Real Estate)

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PRESS CONFERENCE NOTES


Today, Chris Beard held a quick press conference in the men's practice gym. Here's what he had to say.


OPENING


CB: "I appreciate everybody coming out today. Year two of the program here, trying to build it. Really appreciate you guys, couldn't do it without you...We've got some great stories on this year's team. Can't wait to talk to you guys every week, beginning next week with the regular availability. We'll get the players out here for you guys to spend time with. 42 days away from the season opener. We started official practice yesterday. We're a work in progress. A lot of internal optimism here because of our roster, the combination of returning players that have been in our culture. Year 1 is always a challenge, and I'll always be proud of those guys. But this year feels ahead of schedule in terms of our culture. The balance between returners, the five guys that played for us last year, two transfers that both played and won in the NCAA Tournament, and then four high-level freshmen that we think will contribute early in their careers...We're working hard, continuing to build a relationship with our students. I thought we probably had the biggest improvement in student attendance and atmosphere in all of college basketball last season. This year, we'd love to take the next step in the Moody Center. The best seats will be in the student section. We have an event tonight in East Austin at Scoot Inn at 6pm...Student section is gonna be called 'The Corral.' We look forward to meeting some students tonight and explaining what that will entail. Today's announcement of our charity exhibition game against Arkansas...we appreciate Arkansas, a lot of respect for Coach Muss, the program that he's built at Arkansas in a short amount of time, with the consistency those guys are showing right now...We wanted a high-quality opponent...The game is tied into two local charities...all proceeds from the game will go to these charities. It's a non-football Saturday for us. Football plays Thursday night if I'm not mistaken. We will play at 3 o'clock in the Moody. Season ticket holders will get the first crack at the tickets, so I encourage them to do that and come to the game."


That first game against UTEP, you've been asked about it before: your relationship with Coach Golding. You agreed to never coach against each other again. How has that evolved since you've moved to different schools?

CB: "Yeah, I definitely don't enjoy or prefer playing against friends, or former players, or coaches. But when you coach as long as I have...you strive to play great competition. It's gonna happen. It's not something we look forward to on a personal level, but it's a good basketball game, and it makes sense for the state of Texas. UTEP is a historic program...Joe had a great first year at UTEP, a postseason team, won a bunch of conference games, so I know he's excited about his second-year team. Simply stated, we'll have to play really well on opening night to defend our home court. We're proud to bring a quality, in-state, NCAA-tournament-type team in for opening day. In terms of me and Joe's relationship, it's real. I don't know if I have a better friend in life and in basketball than Joe Golding. He's a guy that we always pull for. Look forward to the competition."


​​​​We haven't talked to you since the staff was finalized. Some guys moving on. What was that process like?​


CB: "First of all, we're really appreciative of everyone on last year's staff that helped us build our culture, get to the NCAA Tournament, win a game. When you have a successful program and you win, good things happen for people within the organization...We're thankful for everything they did for our organization, and we'll pull for them in the future. In terms of the new staff this year, we've made some great additions, really proud of the experience that we got. It's all about who's the best fit for our players. I think this year we've added some younger guys in the program that I think bring that kind of energy that we need, and we've added some veterans in the program, most recently with Coach [Steve] McClain and Bob's [Donewald] elevation, we like our staff.


Are there any non-basketball-related team activities that you guys did over the summer or in the offseason that are worth sharing? ​


CB: "Yeah there's a lot of 'em. Culture is important. First thing you gotta do is build it, and then defend it, execute it every day. This summer, we had a lot of fun, and we don't apologize for that. We have a process that we believe in. No one works harder than us in college basketball. It's not arrogance; it's just the truth. There are probably some people that work as hard as us, but no one works harder. Part of that though is the idea of balance. We try to have more fun than anybody."


With the San Antonio Spurs coming to Austin to play a couple of games in Austin, is there going to be a collaboration in that regard?


CB: "I'm not in the inner skull of those conversations, but I will tell you this: I totally support that. I love the relationship between the Spurs and the Longhorns. Obviously it's a brand. Pop out there is a legend, RC Buford is a legend, not only in the NBA but in this part of the state, everything the Spurs have done for basketball. I think it makes a lot of sense. There are probably a lot of parallels between the fanbases...The Moody Center is an awesome venue...When the Spurs play some home games at the Moody, I'm all for it."


Last year, you basically only had Avery [Benson] as the guy who knew how you operated. How much does it help to have second-year guys?​


CB: "It helps a lot. It's hard to put a measurable on it, but that's what makes winning early when you build something very difficult. We've accomplished some great things over the years...Our team here last year was a legitimate top-25 team...Here today we feel a lot better. We have a culture. We're not trying to install anything, but execute it and defend it. It starts with those five returning players from last year."


Can you talk about SirJabari Rice? I talked to a few players and when I asked them who was standing out, they all said his name. What do you think he brings to the table?​


CB: "Yeah, Jabari is a talented player. There are so many stories in college basketball, and they can't all be told day one. But I think the best stories, players, people in our sport eventually demand that their stories be told, and I predict to you guys that later on in the season, we'll be talking about Rice. He's a great basketball player. We love to recruit players from great coaches...Jabari played for Chris Jans and New Mexico State, and Chris Jans is one of the best coaches in our game, now in the SEC (at Mississippi State). A benefit to getting Rice was knowing that he had been coached at a high level for four years. [Rice] is also a guy that's got a story...You know me. I'm a guy that does really well with players that have chips on their shoulders...[Rice] wasn't highly recruited but led his team to a state championship. He sat out a year then turned into arguably their best player. Has played and won in championship games, has played and won in NCAA Tournament games. He's a position-less guy...he's a defensive player, he's a high-IQ guy, he's obviously a smart guy, who already has his undergraduate degree from New Mexico State and is working on post-grad work here. He's a guy I believe in. Sometimes I'm hesitant to talk a lot about guys until we get out on the court...but with Rice, I can confidently tell you he's going to have a great year."


What was the biggest thing you learned from year one after having time to reflect?​


CB: "Coaching basketball is a lifelong learning experience. You learn something every day...Coming back to Texas, I think learning, or really remembering, how great this fanbase is. The crowd increase we had at the Erwin Center...there's no denying the first step we took. I think that was a great reminder that we're playing for one of the most passionate, best fanbases in all of sports, not just college basketball. I'm talking about the pride and expectations...18 sports at Texas, nine played for the national championship last year. You finish fourth around here, they don't even invite you to the BBQ. I love that, and wouldn't want it any different...We benefit from how well [other sports] are playing right now."


How was KD being back?​


CB: "It was awesome. It's great to coach at a place where we have players come back. KD in my opinion is the best player on the planet, no disrespect to the other guys...His relationship with Texas basketball is real. It's not fluff...He invested so much time in his week here. He went above and beyond, it was almost humbling...He spent real time with our players, with our staff...we learned so many lessons just observing him and being around him. You see the greatest player in school history come back and really be here. He was there at practice, getting shots up, hanging out in the locker room...So appreciative of him."


How's the dynamic between Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter?​


CB: "It's been great. I give both guys a lot of credit. They're been great leaders early on, but both guys have kind of followed early on as well. In my opinion, you've gotta be a follower to be a leader sometimes. The best leaders know when to follow. Those two guys have a special relationship that started in recruiting. Carr was one of the recruiters that recruited Tyrese to come here. I'll let them talk about that when you have access to them soon...To win a national championship, you have to have multiple playmakers on the floor. Tyrese gives Marcus a chance to be the best version of himself, and vice versa. Just like all relationships, you have to work at them. Both guys' heads are in the right places, their hearts are the right places. They're doing a great job in our program right now as leaders."


What's an area you feel confident your team will do well and an area you really want to see them make progress on in the next two weeks?​


CB: "I think you ask any coach after the first practice where they're at, and they're confident, then...I don't know. Maybe if you have Shaq and Kobe coming back, but right now, we're a work in progress. There is some optimism though. We feel good about our talent level between experience and new talent. This team has a chance to be really good defensively again. We're tough physically, we have a chance to be tough mentally, we're athletic, we're long, we got position-less guys. We should be a team that's hard to score against. I think offensively here, we're really excited. We're excited to get on the court...and play at an offensive pace that we all want to play at. So there's a lot of objectives going on, I think we're all on the same page. It's a team I'm really enjoying coaching. But I tell you what, if I'm ever sitting up here and telling you after one practice that I'm not enjoying coaching a team, then we're in trouble. So check back in with me in eight or nine days and you'll probably know a lot more. Thanks guys."