2007-08 Nov. 28 KU-FAU Basketball
Kansas University basketball fans welcomed former guard Rex Walters back to Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday night with a rousing ovation in pregame introductions.
One fan brandished a sign that read: "Welcome Back Sexy Rexy."
"It was very special. That introduction was very, very nice, and it did touch my heart," Walters said of the pregame recognition. "It means an awful lot to me for them to show that much respect and love ... and then, unfortunately, we had to play a basketball game."
Yeah, Bill Self's men's basketball team wasn't nearly as accommodating to the second-year Florida Atlantic coach, who averaged 15.3 points in two seasons as a Jayhawk and helped lead KU to a 1993 Final Four berth. KU blasted the Owls, 87-49.
After the loss, Walters said he still is a Jayhawk at heart and said his team played well for portions in the loss against a KU team, which, Walters opined, has as many as seven future professional players on it.
"We won't face that again," he said of the remaining portion of the Owls' schedule. "They're really, really deep. I love Russell Robinson. I love his toughness."
Junior FAU guard Carderro Nwoji - a Wichita native - was impressed with KU's depth as well.
"Kansas is pretty good, probably a Final Four team," he said after scoring a team-high 14 points for the Owls (1-6). "Coach just wanted us to go out there and keep fighting - that's what we tried to do."
The loss marked the seventh straight game away from Boca Raton, Fla., for FAU, which has yet to play a home game, and the Owls knew coming in they would be hard-pressed to beat the No. 4 team in the nation.
"It's a great place to play. I think my team responded well to the atmosphere," Nwoji said.
The atmosphere and people involved with KU basketball are what make Walters a fan of the program to this day.
"Nobody's going to root harder than I am for Kansas, and I hope that they can get healthy with Tyrel (Reed) and Sherron (Collins) and Brandon (Rush) - I hope his knee is 100 percent or gets there," Walters said.
A 1993 grad of KU, Walters said a lot of what he does as a coach comes from the tutelage he received at KU while playing for former coach Roy Williams. He said that's where he gets his "demonstrativeness" on the sidelines, as well as a lot of his hoops strategy and philosophy.
And don't be surprised if you see the former Jayhawk around Lawrence in the future.
"Some day I'll probably make my home here. Even though it's cold as hell," he joked. "In the summertime and the spring I'll probably come back because this place is so special."