No Time for The Hate, Vol. 1: USF Men’s Basketball Coach Amir Abdur-Rahim

As we can all use a little more positivity in our lives, we here at SportsChump Manors would like to introduce you to a new series of posts called No Time for The Hate

Initially inspired by a Jason Kidd press conference (more on that coming in Vol. 2), these articles intend to introduce you to things you might have missed, in the hopes that paying it forward will elicit the desired effect.

You probably don’t know who Amir Abdur-Rahim is.  In fact, despite USF’s tremendous men’s basketball season, one which sees them sitting atop the American Athletic Conference, I had to look up this gentleman’s name earlier this season to find out what kind of coach is doing this well of a job with a relatively-speaking, traditionally irrelevant basketball program.  Under Abdur-Rahim, one gets the impression that irrelevance is a thing of the past. 

Twenty-win seasons are not unheard of for the South Florida school that resides, ironically, in Tampa.  The Bulls won 24 games in 2018-19 but are not necessarily known for their marches in March.  They made the tournament in 2012, reaching the round of 32, but prior to that hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament since the early 90s. 

But this isn’t a post about USF’s basketball history.  This is a post about what their head coach did on a rainy Sunday morning in Tampa to single-handedly lift the spirits of an entire arena of 11,000 fans, a pitch-perfect example of unreasonable hospitality.

[photo courtesy of Doctor Milhouse]

USF basketball fans had February 18 circled on their calendar.  While the Bulls boasted a favorable record, the skeptics lingered.  Las Vegas continued to discredit them.  The Bulls were 15-5 against the spread this season, third in the nation, telling all those paying attention that the casinos still failed to have faith in the program.

Sunday brought FAU to town, the only ranked team in the AAC and the only one that sportswriters gave any credence to despite the conference boasting 17-8 Charlotte, 19-7 SMU, 17-8 UAB and 18-8 Memphis.  Despite USF’s torrid 18-5 start, and a ten-game win streak, the Bulls were once again underdogs headed into Sunday’s match-up.

I’d intended to go but noon starts don’t agree with the bartender that leaves work at 4 am.  I did, however, have multiple friends in attendance who agreed they’d never seen an atmosphere quite like this at the on-campus Yuengling Center.  And while I hardly profess to be a student of USF basketball, the program, which has been around since the early 70s, has never had a team finish with a .792 winning percentage, which is where they stand now.

So where does first year coach Abdur-Rahim fit into all this and how did he get an already raucous arena full of green-clad co-eds and alum even more fired up?

Cue the inclement weather and a long line of unexpecting, rain-drenched fans, probably debating on whether to attend this game in the first place, suddenly running into… the head coach of the basketball team they were about to see play ball, up close and personal.

As students lined up outside in what was, trust me, miserably cold, rainy Florida weather, Coach Abdur-Rahim took it upon himself to leave the comfy confines of the Yuengling Center and high five all those fans who battled the elements to wait in line for tickets.

This is a Division One head basketball coach.  This is a man in the running for NCAA Coach of the Year.  (Note: that video is one reason why.)  Do you think you’d ever see Roy Williams or Jim Boeheim or any of those crotchety old coaches bother with anything other than the obligatory press conference?  Hell, after a home loss to Seton Hall this Sunday, current St. John’s head coach Rick Pitino told reporters that this year was the most “unenjoyable experience” of his career.  So much for no time for the hate!  I guess Pitino is having problems inspiring his student-athletes now that the NCAA has cracked down on his prostitution ring.

Amir Abdur-Rahim is only 42 years old and a blissful, far cry from the grizzled, downtrodden, uninspired Pitino’s that continue to roam college basketball’s sidelines.  Abdur-Rahim is a fresh face, doing what he deems best to inspire young men.

It worked in spades as USF beat ranked FAU and looks most-assuredly to be tournament bound.  You could feel the energy through the television set and through those texting me, from the game.  Basketball?  In Tampa?  Say it ain’t so!

Sunday’s was already a big game.  The fans would have been fired up regardless.  But those outside in ponchos who unexpectedly met the coach responsible for changing a culture will never forget the day they got a wet high five from a man who had no time for the hate.

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4 Replies to “No Time for The Hate, Vol. 1: USF Men’s Basketball Coach Amir Abdur-Rahim”

  1. I did not attend USF but I was a close neighbor to the university in my younger days. I always get a bit of a flashback when I am reminded of those days. Which for me is more than enough of a reason to wish them much success in the future. GO BULLS !

  2. Deac…

    Their win streak finally ended but not until after an historic season for the program.

    This is a team I wouldn’t want to face in the tournament.

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