Team preview: Texas-San Antonio

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Lots of coaches or former players claim that in college, they had the chance to "learn from the best."

Trust us on this one: Brooks Thompson really did.

The new Texas-San Antonio men's basketball coach, who began his college playing days at Texas A&M, transferred to Oklahoma State and finished his career playing for legendary coach Eddie Sutton, one of the most respected basketball minds in the history of the game.

Thompson, taking over a team that struggled in Southland Conference play last year, hopes to bring some of the many lessons he learned from Sutton to Texas' "River City."

And anybody who has ever watched a Sutton-coached team knows this: The Roadrunners will be expected to play tough, tenacious defense.

"If you understand who my mentor is, you know we are going to guard," Thompson said. "We're going to start that right away. We're going to pride ourselves in playing very hard and we're going to have pride in how we play on the defensive end. We want to build a legacy here that we are going to guard. Any success you have always starts with defense.

"We want to build a reputation where people know if they are going to play UTSA, they are going to be in a dogfight."

But the lessons Thompson learned from Sutton go far deeper than just effort on the defensive end of the court. It has to do with building a program on something harder to recognize than three-point shooting ability, vertical leap or quick hands.

And while winning as soon as possible is a priority, building a program that continually produces the right kind of student athlete, Thompson said, is even more important.

"You have to make sure the players you recruit are the type of players you want to represent your university," Thompson said. "The five kids we retained are not only very good basketball players, but they are great kids. The kids we signed are not only great character kids, but are very good basketball players as well. We are trying to set the foundation for what I expect out of my young men on and off the floor. I have high expectations on the floor, but I expect even more of them off the floor.

"Sure, I want to win every game we play. But I want to win the right way. We have to set a standard by doing things the right way. I want to win championships as much as any coach, but we want to build a foundation of strong character, work ethic and recruit the right people who will graduate and be as good a basketball player as they can possibly be."