With the season over a month away, men’s basketball head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said his team will approach everything they do with an “E.D.G.E.” in a Tuesday press conference.
This mantra that he has been instilling in his players when he took the job in March stands for “Everyone Dedicating Great Effort.”
“When we step between those lines at Yuengling, the days of people coming into Tampa feeling like it’s a vacation just because it’s nice weather is over,” he said.
“We’re gonna have an edge that we play with, that we compete with and that we carry every day to give our community and our campus a brand of basketball that they can be proud of.”
The edge Abdur-Rahim spoke of has been missing for a few seasons. Since winning the College Basketball Invitational in 2018-19, the Bulls went 45-71 over the next four.
During the offseason, the team went through an overhaul and added 12 new players.
Senior guards Chris Youngblood, Brandon Stroud and Kasen Jennings headlined the Bulls’ offseason acquisitions.
Youngblood led the team in scoring in 2022-23 at 14.7 points per game. He made the All-ASUN Conference first team. Stroud led the team with 6.5 rebounds and was named ASUN Defensive Player of the Year.
The Kennesaw State trio helped lead the program to its first-ever NCAA Division One tournament berth after only winning one game in the 2019-20 season.
Abdur-Rahim said that the three will be instrumental in making the coaching transition smoother because of their familiarity with his coaching style.
“They’ve been great in the transition. They know me, they know what I want,” he said. “I say to them every day, ‘It’s time for you to help somebody else, get to know me and understand me even better…we’re in this thing together and we’re gonna grow together.’”
Another player Abdur-Rahim mentioned was senior guard Jose Placer. A transfer from UNF, Placer finished second in scoring at 14 points per game.
Abdur-Rahim said Placer has already established himself as a leader and has been a mentor to teammates like freshman guard Jayden Reid.
“He’s as steady as they come. His voice has been the most important thing for our team. And it’s been great because he’s been a great example for [Reid], who is learning to [be more vocal] every day,” he said.
When the dust settled from the transfer portal, there were only three players that stayed from last year’s roster.
Junior guard Selton Miguel has only played one season with the Bulls. Junior forwards Corey Walker Jr. and Sam Hines Jr. have spent two seasons each with USF.
Abdur-Rahim said they have had the “hardest challenge of anybody” because of all the changes they have seen in the program. But, in his eyes, they’ve responded.
“I’m really proud of all three of them. They’ve bought in and they’ve done what we asked them to do,” He said.
With the resources they have, Abdur-Rahim said they are going to make an effort to perform well on the court.
“We have a power five job. We have power five resources, and I want to treat this opportunity every day, as it should be. It is a privilege to be the head coach here. There’s not gonna be a day that anyone feels cheated, not when we have the facilities that we have here,” he said.