By Greg Peterson, Sports Editor
Furman basketball announced that Bob Richey would be the 22nd head coach in the history of the men’s basketball program on Fri., April 7. Richey has been on the basketball staff for six seasons and is ready to take the reins on a program that is fresh off winning the regular season SoCon title and has had 16 straight victories at Timmons Arena. The Paladin sat down with Richey to discuss his transition. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Paladin: Where are you from?
Richey: I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. My dad was in med school at the time, and we lived in Louisiana for a little bit of my childhood and we moved to Columbia, SC for the majority of my childhood.
P: You have been at Furman for six years. What have been some of your favorite parts so far?
R: Winning the regular season this year was a huge highlight. Playing in the SoCon championship two years ago was a huge highlight. Just getting to know the Furman community, being in Greenville, connecting with the people on campus. My wife is from Greenville, and this is home for her, and it has quickly become home for us.
P: What was it like finding out that you were the new head coach of the program?
R: It was a dream come true. I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, and we went to a lot of South Carolina basketball games as a kid. Coach Fogler was the head coach of the program at the time. It has always been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I loved basketball and watching him on the sidelines. I always thought that making a living like that would be a great life. When Mike Buddie offered me the job, it was a very emotional moment for me. It has been a dream come true.
P: As head coach, what do you expect to bring to the program that might not have been there before?
R: We will do a lot of the same things and recruit the same athletes. We will have the same structure. We will play a little bit faster. If you came to watch us last season, when we would get defensive stops and were able to run down the court, we were really good. We have done well with that the past couple years. This year we will try to do that even when teams score on us, and to be faster and increase the tempo.
P: What was it like coaching against Saint Peters in the semifinals of the CIT?
R: It was terrible. It was a learning experience, and there was a lot of emotion that week. We only had a 48-hour window from finding that Coach Medved left, which was obviously a slight distraction. The best thing for me was to be there for our players. They needed support, and we had a rough night shooting the ball and Saint Peters shot really well. I learned a lot, and it was the first time standing on the sideline in 11 years. It was a different viewpoint of the game, and I enjoyed it.
P: What are some of the things the team will work on over the summer in order to reach the goal of winning the SoCon championship?
R: We will focus on individual improvement and individual skills. The coaching staff will be really hands-on and trying to reach targets. As the summer goes on, we will evolve that into team stuff and will work on team stuff full time in the fall. We will also try to connect with the Furman community. We want to continue to try to win SoCon championships here, and we would like to have students and fans here watching us accomplish those goals.
P: What are some ideas to increase student involvement?
R: I want to create a think tank of ideas as to about how we can make it better. We are winning games at home, we had 16 in a row at one point. We have to find out what we can do as a team to serve the student body better in order to increase student attendance. This is very important to me, and is something that we definitely have to work on. It needs to be louder in Timmons arena, and it needs to be more of an event. I want to hear from the students on how to make this better.
P: What are some of the goals for this year’s team?
R: We are going to have a lot of goals. We want to be better in non-conference. Over the last few years, we have lost some games in the non-conference that we should have won knowing how good this team is. We want to continue to protect home court and to continue to compete for the conference championship and go to the NCAA tournament.
P: Have you already started with the recruiting process?
R: Absolutely. That is an everyday deal, we have been recruiting the class [incoming in] 2018 for a while and are starting to get involved with the class [at] 2019 as well. We are very aggressive recruiting, and we want athletes who don’t just have talent, good academics and character, but we need all three. They have to be good in all three areas, and we have to make sure we don’t compromise on any of our standards.