FULL COUNT: Rex rights USF hoops into postseason

Distractions and criticism have plagued USF’s basketball program during the six-year tenure of head coach Rex Walters, reaching its peak earlier this season when starting point guard Cody Doolin left the team following an altercation with a teammate.

Yet Walters, the lone Japanese American head coach in NCAA hoops, rebounded to guide the Dons to a 21-11 record including a 13-5 mark in West Coast Conference play, tying for second place.

Walters also earned WCC Coach of the Year honors to which he said, “It’s more of a team award. It really is. It’s nice. It’s nice that it’s from peers, that they think that we did a really good job.”

Meanwhile USF was invited to the NIT for the first time since 2005 and the Dons hosted the LSU Tigers in the March 19 first-round matchup at War Memorial Gym.

The Dons won the NIT 1949, but no matter the outcome of this tourney, Walters has USF men’s hoops headed in the right direction.

Drew Morita, a Yonsei from Kaua‘i, writes from San Francisco. Follow him @drewmorita or e-mail him at drew_morita@yahoo.com.

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