McCarty promises exciting era for UE basketball

Jonathan Saxon/The Herald
University of Evansville's new head men's basketball coach, Walter McCarty, visited with fans at the Schnitzelbank in Jasper on Wednesday. The stop was the third in the university's planned Coaches Caravan to introduce the new coach to the public.

BY JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

JASPER — There’s a buzz of excitement moving through southern Indiana thanks to the new hire at the University of Evansville. 

He stands 6’10”, boasts a high level of basketball experience as both a player and coach at the collegiate and professional level, and is determined to bring a new culture of winning and exciting basketball back into the world of the Purple Aces.

Walter McCarty was introduced as the new men’s basketball head coach to Purple Aces supporters and fans yesterday evening at Schnitzelbank in the third stop of the Coaches Caravan press tour. The tour gives UE fans the opportunity to meet McCarty in-person, ask questions about the program and his vision and take a few pictures with the new coach.

McCarty is stepping into his first head coaching job with the Purple Aces and said the return home was something of a perfect fit. McCarty, an Evansville native and Harrison High School alum, said that the UE program had the kind of talent and support that is necessary for success at the college level, and believes he can mix all the ingredients together to make good things happen for a program that finished 17-15 (7-11) last season.

“I knew how important the university is to the community. Seeing that growing up, I knew how special of a job it really is,” McCarty said. “I’m excited because we are teaching a new style of play, we’re really starting from scratch trying to build our foundation of what we expect and what we want to see day-in and day-out.”

McCarty previously worked with the Boston Celtics as an assistant coach under Brad Stevens for the past five seasons. His work in turning the Celtics into a serious Eastern Conference contender as well as his extensive basketball experience and network helped signal to the selection committee that the former Kentucky Wildcat was their guy.

“The thing that impressed me the most were his contacts,” said Larry Meeks, who is the president of the Aces Assist Club and also served on the selection committee. “He had been an assistant coach, and we felt he was ready for the head coaching job.”

McCarty spoke at length during the Q&A portion of the event about the team’s talent and the basketball system he hopes to build with the current players and the new guys he has been able to bring on. He said one of the main strengths he has seen from the Purple Aces is their collective size and athleticism. McCarty believes that those two elements can be used as building blocks to create a team that plays with a fast pace and dynamic utility, making the team dangerous from all spots on the court.

“In our style of play, every guy is an option,” said McCarty. “We want to teach the guys how to play fast. It’s not about one guy being able to score, all five guys on the court are a threat.”

All of it sounds good and the promise of pace has fans excited for what the new season has in store for UE basketball.

Paul Lindsay, a longtime Purple Aces fan who has held season tickets for the past 33 years, said the style of play in recent years had not been the most fan-friendly and thinks that may have played a part in the declining attendance. But he looks towards McCarty’s basketball vision with hope.

“The style of play was not exciting and I could see the loss of attendance at University of Evansville games,” he said. “His style of play that he’s going to be bringing is going to be a new chapter for the university. We all feel a new level of excitement. (Fans) feel like it’s going to be a new era in Evansville basketball.”

McCarty also believes that he can use his NCAA and NBA experience to really connect with the players on the team and teach them how to go about the business of basketball the right way. 

“Treat people the right way, do everything the right way,” he said. “I think those are very important. Learning (about) discipline and work ethic that you need to be successful and incorporate that into their lives.”

While he is enjoying the honeymoon phase of this professional marriage, McCarty knows that this experience will be a process for him and the team as they learn and adapt together. He points back to the Celtics’ 2013-14 season, the first year of the post-Doc Rivers era, when the team won only 25 games. But the coaching staff kept true to their vision and won 40 games the next season, then 48 games in the following season. This past season, they took the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

McCarty is confident in his ability to deliver exciting, winning basketball and attract the kind of talent he needs to implement his system. He has the support and confidence of the university, as well as the resources to build and make his impact in Purple Aces nation. They still have games to play, but McCarty believes that everything is in place to inject new life into Evansville this fall.

“You have to start somewhere, you have to build your foundation,” said McCarty. “That’s the best thing about starting out some place, we’re able to create our own culture. I think when you do it that way, you appreciate it more at the end of the day.”




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