Travis Ford has been Billikens head basketball coach little over a week, but is hitting the ground running.
The former Oklahoma State coach is known throughout his career for being a strong recruiter and cultivating up-tempo offenses. He hopes to do the same for Saint Louis University.
Ford recently told Bernie Miklasz about his approach to recruiting and coaching, as well as why he believes SLU can be as successful as other Jesuit universities like Villanova and Xavier.
On if he believes he can ‘crack the code’ for success at SLU:
“I do or I wouldn’t be here right now…we’ve got a lot of things in place that’s going to allow us to recruit at a high level. We’ve got unbelievable fan support. I think (the fans) are hungry and I think they’re eager. I think the fans will get behind this basketball program 100 percent.”
“We’ve got great facilities. Chaifetz (Arena) is a great place to go watch a game, to play a game…A beautiful campus, great city to recruit to…A place where young men are going to want to put down roots.”
“And there are other (Catholic university) models…We’re trying to be like a Xavier. Obviously we’re all chasing Villanova. Villanova’s the ultimate right now…There’s a lot of models we want to try to follow as far as…We want to get to that level. Gonzaga, Xavier, Villanova, and why not us?”
On how he’s getting started with the program:
“I’ve got to put together a staff. I’ve got to get to know the players and the program right now. We had our first workout (Tuesday)…And thought it went really well. I really enjoyed working with the guys. Their attitudes were terrific. Their work ethic was terrific.”
“The lifeblood of any program is recruiting. We’ve got to get out there and hit the pavement. We’ve got to convince the best players in the St. Louis area to stay home and play for the Billikens and we’ve to recruit nationally. There are a lot of things to do in these first 50 days.”
On the keys to successful recruiting:
“It’s all about relationships. Everywhere. Across the country. And then it’s just relentless work ethic…Recruiting is a game within itself. It’s great competition and I love competition, but you’ve got to start early. You’ve got to identify players sooner and sooner.”
“It’s the old recipe of just trying to outwork people. And I’ve found that that works pretty good at times.”
On his teams’ playing style:
“We put (players) into a team concept of aggressive offense, aggressive defense. It’s not necessarily ‘run and gun,’ but we want to put pressure on the other team’s defense. We want to have great ball movement, great spacing, and give our players freedom to use their talent.”
On his excitement to take over at SLU:
“I’m excited because of the potential. I’m excited because of how everybody’s treated me this past four or five days…It’s fun to be part of a family that’s excited…Part of a family that wants great basketball. I’ve hit the ground running. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m looking forward to it.”