North Texas Daily

Basketball teams preparing for upcoming schedules

Basketball teams preparing for upcoming schedules

September 29
18:34 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Last season, the North Texas’ men’s basketball team was bounced in the first round of the Conference USA tournament by Rice University. The women’s basketball team was eliminated from post season contention with a regular season finale defeat against the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Now with the 2015-2016 season six weeks away, both squads’ schedules have been released, and the teams will begin organized practices as soon as the first week in October.

Let’s take a look at both teams’ schedules and see what North Texas is up against in the coming year.

The Men’s Team

Perhaps the biggest win of the men’s season in 2014 was a home upset over Creighton University. With the Mean Green up 22 points in the second half, Creighton made a ferocious rally to cut the North Texas lead to two with under two minutes to play. The Mean Green held on, but the Blue Jays made it interesting.

This year, the Mean Green will travel to Omaha, Nebraska to take on the Blue Jays yet again. And despite Creighton being a nationally prominent basketball program and nearly coming back in the game last year, freshman center Rickey Brice Jr said he is not concerned.

“Easy win,” Brice said. “Absolutely. That will be an easy win. We’ve been putting in the hard work out here. And yeah, I would say there is a rivalry there.”

The Mean Green went 3-10 on the road last season and 0-4 in non-conference road games. With contests at Creighton and the University of Northern Iowa, which went undefeated on its home court in 2014, head coach Tony Benford said there is an opportunity to prove themselves.

“Really tough road games against great opponents” Benford said. “Coach McDermott runs a great program and then, Northern Iowa, they’re just a really good team. They made a heck of a run in the NCAA tournament last year and defend their home court really well.”

To form the schedule, Benford and his coaching staff put together a rough draft before sending it off to athletic director Rick Villarreal for final approval.

“It’s something we think about throughout the entire year,” Benford said.

Despite the tough road matchups in the upcoming campaign, Benford is pleased with the balance the schedule offers. Last year, North Texas played three consecutive non-conference road games to start the season and went nearly a month without playing a home game.

Benford said this took a toll on the team and was something the entire staff was aware of when putting together the schedule for the upcoming year.

“Definitely, I thought we over-scheduled last year,” Benford said. “We were at Arkansas, at Stephen F. Austin, and it felt like we were hardly ever home at the beginning. I think we did a nice job this year of really balancing that and making sure our guys are prepared.”

The Mean Green men’s basketball team kicks off the season on November 13 against Jarvis Christian University in the Super Pit.

The Women’s Team

The North Texas women’s team was 1-12 away from home last season and ranked last in Conference USA in nearly every offensive category.

This year, with non-conference games against Big 12 and Pac 10 schools the University of Oklahoma and the University of Arizona, new head coach Jalie Mitchell said her team is preparing like normal.

“We don’t treat any game differently, in terms of preparation,” Mitchell said. “Every game is of equal importance and we want to win them all.”

Mitchell said the 2015-2016 schedule was made by the previous coaching staff, and in the future, she will have input on every game the team plays.

“There are some things I’d like to change,” Mitchell said. “But moving forward, my staff and I will get together and collaborate on everything.”

Last season, the team had two very competitive games against the University of Texas at San Antonio, one of which included a regular season finale loss that featured a blown six point lead with one minute to play.

The Mean Green play UTSA only once this year, on New Year’s Day. Senior forward Acheil Tac said she doesn’t consider UTSA a rival, but wants to beat every team equally as bad.

“To me, everyone is our rival,” Tac said. “I think you have to have that attitude. I want to come out here and beat everybody we play.”

The Mean Green women’s team kicks off the season on November 7 against Texas Woman’s University in the Super Pit.

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