North Texas Daily

Incoming men’s basketball players bring experience and maturity

Incoming men’s basketball players bring experience and maturity

Incoming men’s basketball players bring experience and maturity
November 06
10:55 2013

John Lugo / Staff Writer

With more newcomers than returning players for the men’s basketball team, the Mean Green hopes that the previous experiences of the new-look roster can bring maturity and a better sense of leadership.

The team is looking to improve off last season, where a 12-20 record and a first-round exit in the Sun Belt Tournament highlighted an unsuccessful year.  The coaching staff and players believe that they can be more successful this season in Conference USA.

“You’ll see that the group of guys we’ve added to the group that we already have here are all starting to mesh a little bit better,” Benford said. “They’re starting to understand one another’s game and they understand that it’s about the team.”

Newcomers that have already made their debut are senior guard Vertrail Vaughns, sophomore guard Maurice Aniefiok, junior forward Armani Flannigan and sophomore guard T.J. Taylor.

Junior center Kelvin Gaines and junior forward Colin Voss have been held out due to injuries, while freshman forward Greg Wesley is facing eligibility issues.

Head coach Tony Benford said the they have adjusted well to UNT and his system so far in practices and in the two exhibition games, noting the success of the players that have already made their debut.

Vaughns scored 23 points in a 97-65 win against Southeastern Oklahoma State University on Monday. He credits his success to his teammates constantly giving him pointers on how to improve his game.

“It’s been a really good experience. They welcomed me with open arms and they’ve always been positive in telling me the things I need to do in order to get better and to help my team,” Vaughns said. “They’re walking me through everything and I’m just listening.”

The newcomers accounted for 30 of the 78 total points for the Mean Green in last Friday’s season opener against Oklahoma City University, while they scored 40 of the 97 points on Monday. Junior guard Jordan Williams – a veteran on the team and last year’s leading scorer – said the effort and tendency to push others to their potential is where they have shined so far.

“Everybody wants to win,” Williams said. “They’re always talking to me. I don’t take it negative, I take it as a positive aspect and keep going.”

While the new players are continuing to adapt to the UNT style of basketball, Benford said their experiences at previous schools is still very useful in helping guide the younger players.

“That’s great for these [returning] guys to be around guys who have been to the tournament,” Benford said. “You got some guys that are older and you got good leadership coming in.”

The injured Voss hopes to play on Friday against Northwood University. Gaines is still recovering from a foot injury he suffered on Oct. 10, which is expected to make him miss up to three more weeks.

Feature photo: Senior guard Vertrail Vaughns blocks a South Eastern Oklahoma opponent while reaching for a basket during Monday night’s home game at the Super Pit. Photo by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor 

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