SFA coach appreciates Walton's praise on team, community

Ben Rikard
Ben Rikard

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - They were one chop of the axe shy of a first round NIT win against Stanford Tuesday night, but thanks to a hall of famer-turned-color commentator, thousands nationwide learned about the oldest town in Texas and the history of SFA.

"Well, it's beautiful there. The Pineywoods."

"If the Lumberjacks win this game, they're going to name Danny Kaspar the father of Texas."

"Thank the heavens for Danny Kaspar. He's saving the game of basketball."

"It was absolutely fantastic. The discipline, the organization, the cohesiveness, the vision, the plan all on perfect display."

Those were just a few of about 40 examples of the numerous times Bill Walton showed his admiration for SFA, Coach Danny Kaspar and Nacogdoches.

"You know I've always been a fan Bill Walton," Kaspar said.

Kaspar says he's been a fan of Walton's for decades and to finally meet him and have such a great tribute from him is an honor.

"To have a person of the stature of Bill Walton say so many positive things about our program and about me was a real compliment," Kaspar said. "I feel very fortunate to have him so to speak embrace our program and embrace me."

So, you're probably wondering how this west coast native sportscaster knew so much about a place he's never been to.

It started with Ben Rikard, the assistant director of media relations at SFA.

"He really wasn't familiar with our program at all," Rikard said. "He wanted to know about everything from the terrain to our industry, you know about the community. So, it gave me an opportunity to talk with him and give a little bit of history."

Rikard said Walton took notes during a two-hour conversation Monday and pretty much read them off verbatim during the game.

"It was great to be able to share what we are as a community, what we are as a university with somebody on a national stage and have them use their voice to be able to tell the rest of the world," Rikard said. "He used most of all of the things I told him."

While Walton kept flowing with information about SFA, he did not give too much background on their opponent, Stanford. Maybe because the Cardinal get enough TV exposure as it is.

"You typically try to be neutral but sometimes you play favorites," Rikard said. "It was nice to see a smaller school like us, a school that's typically not on the national stage kind of get a little Cinderella darling love if you will. And he really embraced what we are as a team, what we are as a university. I thought he painted the picture really well."

"Whether he realized it or not he's really upgraded our program in the eyes of many people nationwide," Kaspar said. "You know my emails and my texts [that I received] reflect that."


Below are some more quotes from Walton during Tuesday's game:

"Notice how SFA, they never gamble, they never take chances."

"Timeout here. The Lumberjacks sharpen those teeth on the chainsaws."

"The discipline and footwork of SFA is phenomenal."

"You look at their defensive footwork. They close out. They don't gamble. They work together. This isn't a physically dominating team. But they play with heart. They play with their brain. They have passion. They have a tremendous vision and plan. They got a brilliant leader over there. This is a most interesting team here!"

"SFA located in East Texas. The Pineywoods. The wind blows in the Pineywoods."

"Named after Stephen F. Austin, the father of Texas."

"If the Lumberjacks beat Stanford, they're going to call Danny Kaspar the father of Texas."

"Enrollment: 12,999! Must be a fire marshal issue."

"Throw it down! One time big man! This is a good-looking team."

"Danny Kasper and his wife have only one child. Their angel Nicole whose 22 years old and the pride of Danny and Debbie Kaspar. Danny is really watching tonight. She's a model 22-year-old. She attends Texas State. But Coach Kaspar, he's concerned she's just in her dorm, cleaning things up rather than spending time watching this game. So Nicole, I hope you're watching because your dad is making us all really proud."

"There's never been a great team, there's never been a great player, there's never been a great program without a great coach."

"The Lumberjacks have cut down the trees in the first half!"

"Terrible call. That's a terrible call. That ball was out on Stanford! One thing, the Lumberjacks, they're not here whining."

"SFA, there are 21 schools in the state of Texas. SFA, has been the second-best team out of all of those schools!"

"The Paul Bunyan, Taylor Smith, come along way from Nacogdoches to cut down the trees."

"I want Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless to give Coach Danny Kaspar some love tomorrow. This guy deserves it for what he's done in this little tiny town of less than 30,000."

"They play with tremendous pride and poise and toughness. They are not afraid to mix it up."

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