"Big Dance" Interviews: Texas-San Antonio head coach Brooks Thompson

March 15th, 2011
As part of his "Big Dance" interview series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Texas-San Antonio head coach Brooks Thompson, whose Roadrunners will make their first NCAA appearance since 2004 when they lost to top-seeded Stanford in the first round. UTSA takes on Alabama State on Wednesday night in the "First Four", with the winner advancing to take on East top-seed Ohio State on Friday in Cleveland.

Jon Teitel: You started your college career at Texas A&M before transferring to Oklahoma State, where you later became a grad assistant under Eddie Sutton. What made Coach Sutton such a great coach and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him?

Brooks Thompson: When you think of Coach Sutton the word that comes to mind is "discipline" but in a very positive way. He was a perfectionist when it came to Xs and Os. I learned even more when I worked for him, to see how much he cared about his players behind the scenes.

JT: You were a first round pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, where you played for five teams in four years. Why did you decide to get into coaching, and who was the best NBA coach you ever had?

BT: I had a bunch of good NBA coaches, but Jeff Van Gundy was my all-time favorite. I remember when Bill Self was recruiting me to go to Oklahoma State and I thought that was pretty cool, so I am getting to live my dream now.

JT: Devin Gibson began his career by being named 2008 Southland Rookie of the Year, and he is finishing his career in the NCAA Tournament after being named Southland Tournament MVP. How proud are you of everything that Devin has accomplished throughout his career?

BT: Devin had a vision when we started this program, and he trusted what we were doing and has been very loyal to us for four years. I was so happy for him when we clinched the title that I went over and gave him a big hug and told him how proud I was of him.

JT: You have guys on your roster from Australia, Greece, and Yugoslavia. How are you able to recruit internationally as a mid-major school, and what is the biggest difference in coaching foreign players vs. American players?

BT: It is just a lot of hard work and hard travel...although you cannot complain about having to go to Australia! The other guys were over here in America already: one at a junior college and one at a prep school. None of them had played the AAU circuit before so some of the basketball terminology was a little confusing to them, but their English is fine.

JT: You have a play-in game on Wednesday in the "First Four" against Alabama State. How big of an advantage is it to get the extra day to prepare (rather than having to play on Tuesday), and what the heck are you going to do if you win and have to play one-seed Ohio State on two days notice?!

BT: We just have to worry about AL ST right now. It helps to get some rest and have an extra travel day. Our coaching staff has had a chance to watch some more film, and then we can teach our guys what we know about Alabama State.