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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Evans sees big-time potential at USF



 (The Spokesman-Review)

Jessie Evans replaced Phil Mathews as the University of San Francisco men’s basketball coach last April following seven seasons at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he went 132-81 and won 20 or more games each of the last three years.

A longtime assistant at the University of Arizona, where he helped lead the Wildcats to the 1997 national championship, Evans will put his Dons up against the visiting Gonzaga Bulldogs tonight at 7 in War Memorial Gymnasium.

Earlier this week, the West Coast Conference’s only first-year coach took time to engage The Spokesman-Review in an over-the-phone question and answer session.

S-R: You coached under one of best while you were an assistant at Arizona. What was the most important thing you learned from Lute Olson?

Evans: To be a teacher. You still have to recruit and have good players, no question, but you also have to continue to teach.

And you’ve got to continue to get kids who want to get better.

S-R: What else appealed to you about USF?

Evans: I think the ceiling is very high here – higher than at Louisiana (Lafayette), where I thought we had maxed out, even though we would have been really good again this year if all our guys had stayed healthy.

Here, we can not only make the (NCAA) tournament, but make a run in the tournament, as well. And I like where we’re located. If we can recruit the East Bay and then sprinkle in some (players) from the other areas we’re familiar with – Chicago, Houston, New York, Detroit – we can compete with anyone.

But it’s going to take some time.

S-R: What have you found to be the biggest challenge involved with taking over a new program in an unfamiliar league?

Evans: Changing the mindset. Changing the mindset of everyone.

The (administrative) support can be there, and the wherewithal can be there, but until someone comes in from outside and lets you know, you sometimes don’t realize how far ahead some of the other programs are with their facilities, personnel and recruiting base.

You’ve been so busy taking care of regular business that you need someone from outside to tell you, “Hey, you need to upgrade this, and you need to upgrade that.” And then you’ve got to play catch-up.

Fortunately, the administration here understands that and has been terrific. I think it’s going to be a great trip for us.

S-R: On a lighter note, your daughter, Jayda, is a sports writer for the Seattle Times. How did you, as a responsible parent, let her pursue such a career?

Evans: I think you guys are the best.

S-R: Sure you do.

Evans: No, really. That’s why I let her do it – because I know there’s no better profession than what you guys do, and if anybody should be honored in the world, it should be the sports writer.

S-R: Let’s just end it there.

Evans: All right. You bet.