Texas basketball coach Chris Beard talks recruiting, defense, fans

Chris Beard believes in the power of positivity. That’s probably why there are Ted Lasso-inspired “Believe” signs taped up inside the Texas men’s basketball coach’s office and around Cooley Pavilion.

“Don’t you just feel better after watching that show?” Beard said with a huge smile. Indeed. 

Texas fans, do you feel better about the men’s program after watching Beard for a few months?

The 48-year-old new Longhorns coach sure looked relaxed Wednesday in a 45-minute sit-down interview with the American-Statesman. Instead of meeting in the official basketball office over in the north end of Royal-Memorial Stadium, Beard was found in a leather chair in the gym with workout clothes stacked neatly at his feet.

New men's basketball coach Chris Beard speaks Tuesday night at UT's Gone to Texas freshman welcoming event. Increasing attendance at games is one of his top goals. “The first thing that has to be asked to the fan base in a respectful way is it's pretty simple,” he said Wednesday. “Please, on the nights where you can’t come to the game, please take the time and effort to give your tickets to somebody and make sure somebody is in your seat. That's the key to the whole thing.”

“This is my desk,” Beard said, motioning to a small coffee table. He reached for some three-ring binders on the floor. “This is my filing cabinet.”

This is not someone who has time to decorate an office.

More:Texas’ Beard intends to recruit, for sure, but he’s showing early touch securing transfers

The night before, Beard had been with thousands of students at the school’s Gone to Texas event on the Main Mall. He spent Wednesday morning golf-carting his way around campus to make sure his players had a good first day of class. The Texas ex, Class of 1995, is embracing every moment of coaching at his alma mater.

It feels as if he’s just getting started.

“I was on campus this morning, first day of class, meeting students, telling them our first game is Nov. 9,” Beard said. “Making kids look me in the eyes and commit to being there on Nov. 9. In return, I’m telling kids, how can I help you or your group? Your organization needs some help? Men’s basketball wants to be a player around here.”

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte, right, introduces Chris Beard as the new men's basketball coach April 2. From that first day, Beard has been emphasizing the importance of elevating the program, referring to his desire to turn the Longhorns into a "Monday night program." Mondays, of course, are for ESPN's Big Monday matchups. And the NCAA championship game.

Just wait until UT students hear about plans for a regular-season game at Gregory Gym. Nothing’s official yet, and some kinks need ironing out. Athletic director Chris Del Conte signed off on the idea — that’s for sure. It promises to be a sizzling, hot-ticket event that’ll jump-start basketball interest in November.

Metaphorically speaking, this program needs a jump-start. Get a defibrillator from Dell Medical School. Beard is rubbing two paddles together and yelling at everyone to stand back.

Golden:New Texas men’s coach Chris Beard is here to win now (and unify with the past)

After all, men’s basketball is UT’s second-most profitable sport, embedded inside an athletic behemoth that generates more than $200 million annually in revenue. Men’s basketball is one year away from moving into a new $340 million arena. It’s part of an athletic program soon headed to the Southeastern Conference.

In short, Texas needs men’s basketball to pick it up.

Beard has been on a recruiting blitzkrieg since arriving in April from Texas Tech. Four players from last year’s team stayed, seven transfers joined the Horns, and two more freshmen arrived on campus. Collectively, Texas is a team with seven players who posted double-figure scoring totals last season, be it at UT or somewhere else.