SALT LAKE CITY — Known for his man bun, handshakes and antics on the bench, Rem Bakamus cemented himself as a fan favorite during his time on the Gonzaga men’s basketball team from 2012-2017.
Now two years removed from his time as a Zag, Bakamus will reunite with his former team in the Round of 32, but in a different light. Instead of just cheering them on from the sidelines, he will a member of the Zags’ competition, as a grad assistant coach for the Baylor Bears.
Ahead of Saturday’s matchup, The Bulletin caught up with Bakamus to see how his transition to coaching has been and how he will handle this upcoming bittersweet matchup.
Gonzaga Bulletin: How has the transition been from being a player, to being a coach?
Rem Bakamus: It’s a little different. I sit in the front row of the crowd, so I can only say so much. I can yell at our guys but it’s a whole different level stress. At least when I was a player, I was talking to our guys and and could do stuff on the court and all that but I feel a little more helpless up in the stands. Every game this time of year is stressful, so Im just happy I could get a win, honestly.
GB: Last year, you watched the Zags play in the tournament as a fan. So similar but different question — what’s the biggest different between watching as a fan and watching as a coach?
RB: You gotta flip it. It’s a lot different when you know the game plan and you know how you’re supposed to be guarding someone versus when you’re in the stands just cheering and trying to pump up the crowd or whatever I was doing in Boise or L.A. But it’s a lot of fun getting to be a part of it. Now we have to go and try to figure out a way to be the Zags. That’s a whole other task ahead of us.
GB: Are you going to give Baylor the inside scoop on the Zags?
RB: I mean, I’ll let them know how they operate. They’re a whole different team and play a whole different style of ball than when I was there. But, we’re going to do our best to figure out what they have going over there.
GB: What do you miss most about Gonzaga?
RB: So many favorite experiences but I really miss the grind, every day going to work with your boys and pushing each other to get better every day. It’s such a special place and operates in such a unique way. Coach Few knows what he’s doing and it lives for things like this. It’s expected to come to these tournaments and compete for a national championship. I miss that a lot but I try to instill that here and bring it with me wherever I go.
GB: When you were with the Zags, you were known for the energy you brought on the bench. Has having that role made it easier to transition into coaching?
RB: I try to bring that same type of energy, it’s just my personality and comes out during the game of basketball I try to exert as much energy as possible to try and help our guys — yell, scream whatever it is. I try not to have as many antics as I did, I cant be dancing out there, but I try to be the same person just with a little different mindset as I did when I was a player.
GB: Any handshakes with the Baylor players?
RB: No handshakes.
GB: Jack Beach has kind of taken over that role that you used to have, giving lots of energy off the bench. Did you train him for that at all? Or was it just a natural transition?
RB: It was an easy transition for him. He knew what it took to be that guy. And Jack is one of my best friends. He’s done a great job. He’s had a great career there and I was happy to see him play this year and hit all those 3s, even though I didn’t get to see him, cause its bad luck when I watch him play. Like tonight I wasn’t supposed to watch him when he subbed in but I couldn't avoid it so if I came to the locker room and had not watched him, I’m pretty sure he woulda hit that 3. It’s my fault.”
Kendra Andrews is the Editor-in-Chief. Follow her on Twitter: @kendra__andews.