Blum: How has Coach McDermott been to work with early on?
Walters: He's been great to work with so far. He's a real likable guy and he's had a real connection with the fans already. I think it's going to be a good working relationship with the media too. He's been around the state for a longtime and understands how the media works. He can probably tell the difference between somebody who's out to get him and somebody who isn't. I really look forward to working with him. He's really professional in the way he goes about his business, his whole staff is that way; very organized, very professional and friendly. He's going to be a pleasure to work with.
What was it like on the summer circuit with McDermott?
Walters: The summer outings were
great. He was a big hit on them. He has a good sense of humor-- a dry sense of
humor, which we've become used to at
Blum: What should fans expect this year and in the rest of the McDermott era?
Walters: The biggest thing is to not go into the season necessarily trying to pin how many wins and losses there are going to be. Everybody is going to speculate and guess and that's fine, but I think the thing that the fans want to see, and I know the thing I want to see, is a team that plays hard every night, hustles, plays together unselfishly, and gets better as the year goes on. If you see those things it's going to be a real satisfactory year regardless of the record. People are going to see a lot different basketball team in March than they will in November.
I think it's going to take a
little time, people have to give him some time and space to implement the things
he wants to do. Because when you have a complicated offensive system-- he uses a
lot of plays and a lot of sets that are designed to get the ball in the hands of
the player that can have success with it. That's great and that's what you want,
but it doesn't happen overnight. The expectation should just be to be proud of
the team, to end the season saying, "Wow, I'm really proud the way that team
played. That's a team I can be happy to call
Walters: I think so. I definitely
think so. He's in this thing for the long haul. And the most exciting thing for
me is if he does have that kind of success, and if Jamie Pollard takes care of
him and I know he will, I don't see Greg looking for greener pastures. For him
this is a green pasture. This is where he wants to be, where he wants to build a
great program and continue a great program. I think it can get back to that
level. I think they can get to that level and sustain at that level where
Blum: Do you have a favorite sport to broadcast—basketball or football?
Walters: I love them both. There's
nothing that compares to gameday for college football, nothing that compares to
a Saturday on a campus with a college football game. That is just unbelievable.
But, the atmosphere inside Hilton is incredibly special too. And when you
consider the changes that have been made with the new scoreboard, the light ring
and the seats, people are going to be excited to be in the building. And if they
see an exciting brand of basketball on top of it, season ticket sales are going
well, I'm real excited about basketball. It's a special thing at
Blum: What's it like being courtside every game to experience the great atmosphere?
Walters: I always get a chill down
my spine when the place goes nuts and the teams are introduced. That goes back
to when Johnny Orr was here and he'd come out pumping the fist and the place
would go bananas. It's just a special building for basketball. The noise is just
incredible. Being right there on the floor, you feel like you are right in among
it. It's a great feeling. There is not many things that can compare to
broadcasting a game right next to the
Blum: What did you see from watching the new guys in the summer?
Walters: I saw some good players. I think these guys are going to be better than people think. You and I both liked Michael Taylor a lot. He can guard, create off the dribble, shoot it. He's a real hard-nosed, determined player. I can't wait to see him play; fans are going to love him. Corey McIntosh is going to be a creator—quick off the dribble. Our guards are going to be the smallest in the Big 12 in terms of weight and size, but they are going to be fun guards to watch. I didn't see Wesley Johnson, but from everything I heard he's extremely athletic. With him and Rahshon Clark you have the potential for two tremendously athletic defenders, guys that can really impact a game. Cory Johnson plays really hard, hustles all the time. He is every bit as comfortable facing the basket as with his back to the basket. I think he is going to be a fan favorite for four years.
Blum: What preparations do you make going into the season and basketball games?
Walters: Going into the season I try to make it to practice a couple times at least. You can learn a lot from a coaching staff and a team from watching them practice. Once the games start and you're into the routine, most of the preparation isn't about your own team as much, you are in tune with that from seeing it on an everyday basis. Your preparation is mainly on an opponent and it's a matter of getting as many games taped as I can. That's my favorite way to get ready for a team and get familiar with their personnel. The other part is researching notes and media guides to put together a chart of their players. That way I have little notes about them and it may not even be a statistic, it may be why they chose this school over another one, or what they did in high school. And there are stats on there to so I can refer to them as the game is going on. It's pretty simple. You get into a routine and it feels like part of the week.
Blum: Going into your fourth year do you feel like you are getting more comfortable?
Walters: It's my senior year (laughs). I'm definitely feeling more comfortable. It was such a tough transition because everybody loved Pete so much, myself included, and I still think about him every single day. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him. I miss him and wish he was still here. I always dreamed of doing something like this but I sure didn't like the circumstances that it happened under. But I definitely am starting to feel more comfortable and a lot of that is because of Eric Heft. He's great to work with, has a great sense of humor, understands the game inside and out, and he's just a lot of fun to be around. He's made me more comfortable too and that's a big part of it.
Blum: What is the greatest moment
you've broadcasted and best atmosphere?
Walters: Maybe the greatest
moment, the most fun call for me was Curtis Stinson making the game-winner in
The most electric I've heard
Hilton during the times I've been doing the games? Certainly when they beat
Blum: What is it like being on the road?
Walters: We travel with the team most of the time. If it's close we'll drive separately. But most of the time we are with the team. I haven't traveled yet with this coaching staff but I'm sure it will be great. They treat everybody really professionally and are fun people to be around. That was certainly the case with the last staff as well. You do feel a little bit more connected because you are with them all the time and you feel their pain when they lose. Getting on that plane after a loss is tough. And the joy when they win is great. You feel connected particularly in basketball, because it's a smaller group and you fly on a small plane with them right after the game. That's one of the unique and really fun things about the job.
Blum: What are your favorite cities to visit in the Big 12?
Blum: What is John Walters' outlook for the Big 12?
Blum: Why should fans be excited about the upcoming year and the Greg McDermott era?
Walters: There are a lot of
reasons to be excited. The biggest thing is he is an
I think the biggest thing is, when fans walk out of the arena after watching his teams play, the vast majority of the time they are going to be real proud of this team. And that's all you can ask.