Team preview: San Francisco
Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.
Jessie Evans has lofty goals for his new team.
In seven years at Louisiana-Lafayette, Evans built the Ragin' Cajuns into a solid program, taking Lafayette to three straight 20-win seasons, three consecutive postseason appearances and two trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Not bad for the former Lute Olson assistant, who recruited the likes of Mike Bibby and Damon Stoudamire to Tucson.
But why leave such a successful program he essentially rebuilt for what many considered a lateral move at best?
Because when Evans strolled around the halls on the Hilltop and saw the pictures of Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, he realized how much the once-proud program had faded and embraced the idea of trying to reclaim some of that legacy.
So when former coach Phil Matthews was let go after a 139-123 record in nine seasons, Evans jumped at the opportunity.
"It was especially tough to leave Lafayette, especially because most of team was coming back," Evans said.
"We had been to postseason play the last three years. I always said I wanted to leave a place better than when I found it. I did that. And I think San Francisco is a place where we can win it all. I mean, they've done it before, so why not?"
And while lofty goals of competing for a national title may be a ways in the offing, Evans would first like to begin competing for conference titles.
"It's a little early to say how we're going to do," Evans said. "But I think we have a tremendous opportunity with the people we have returning to compete."