Q&A: Florida SouthWestern State College Men's Basketball Head Coach Marty Richter
"I’m doing the laundry and watching video tape."
For a year all Marty Richter had to sell was the novelty. “You can be a pioneer,” he would tell prospective players. As Florida SouthWestern State College prepared to begin its athletics program after nearly two decades without sports, Richter was on the road trying to convince players to join a team they’d never heard of before. If the results say anything about his skills as a coach and recruiter, there’s a good chance Richter won’t be coaching the Buccaneers too much longer. Only two seasons into his tenure, Richter, the former associate head coach at FGCU, has built FSW into a powerhouse. When we chatted with him at the end of January, his squad was ranked No. 4 in the country and riding a 12-game win streak. But challenges still remained.
On the toughest week of the season
“This week we have four games in seven days. Two of them are on the road. And it’s not like Division I programs. When we have a road trip, we go up and back in the same day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 2-hour drive or a 4-hour drive. That’s hard on your body, especially after a game. But that’s what JUCO (junior college) basketball is.”
On starting a program from scratch
“I really had to do just about everything in that first year. I had to figure out what basketballs to get, what the uniforms would be, and figure out what we were going to wear during practice. It’s not like you have an equipment manager or anything like that. It’s square one. Plus, you have to recruit all the players. There’s a certain kind of kid who can come into a program that is just an idea.”
On his recruiting pitch
“Part of it was talking about how they would be building a program from the bottom up, that they would be pioneers. I would ask, ‘What number do you want to be?’ Like I asked Tremell Murphy [the sophomore forward averaging nearly 17 points and six rebounds in only 15 minutes a game] what number he wanted to be. He said, ‘No. 2.’ I told him he would be the first person to ever wear No. 2 for FSW. It took him a minute to understand. But then he was excited. A lot of kids couldn’t handle that.”
On taking a professional gamble
“These kids are taking a gamble on me. I’m telling them about my 10 years of Division I experience and that I can help them get there. But it’s also a gamble for me, I guess. I want to be a Division I head coach. So leaving Division I, where I was associate head coach, to start a JUCO team from nothing was a risk. But I knew we could build a good program if I put the right people around me.”
On what he looks for in a recruit
“It’s got to be more than talent. From my very first recruiting class, I stressed the importance of fit with the program. I am looking for the four Cs: culture, character, chemistry and competitiveness. Some kids are going to have great talent but just not be a fit.”
On the difference between JUCO and Division I
“Here, you pretty much do everything. I have one full-time assistant and two part-time assistants. I’m doing the laundry and watching video tape. And you can’t recruit the same way. You have to build a team pretty much from scratch every spring. You only have kids for two years. Coaching at this level isn’t easy. You’ll see really fast if you (truly) love to coach.”