North Texas Daily

Junior forward trying to improve game on court

Junior forward trying to improve game on court

Junior forward trying to improve game on court
November 17
23:44 2014

Jesse Brackeen / Intern Writer

Acheil Tac roams around the back court during a basketball practice on Saturday. She rolls off of a pick, catches a pass and drains a midrange jump shot with a hand in her face, using her height to her advantage.  At 6 feet 2 inches, the junior forward is one of the tallest members of the Mean Green women’s basketball team.

However, her height is not the only thing that sets her apart.

“I was born in Sudan and I grew up in Egypt,” Tac said. “I lived there until I was 8 or 9, and then I moved to America, to Dallas.”

Moving across the Atlantic Ocean, 7,000 miles away from the only world she knew, Tac said the culture shock was a lot to handle at first.

“When I came here I didn’t know any English. I had to learn everything all over again,” Tac said. “It was a tough transition, but I learned quickly. I was able to take in everything I learned and use that to adjust.”

As she moved across the world, everything was new to Tac, but one thing in particular changed her purpose in life as Tac came to know basketball. Tac did not start playing until her freshman year at Sachse High School, but said upon discovery, her skill, as well as her love of the game, grew rapidly.

“Freshman year came and I guess the coach saw something in me,” Tac said. “I was terrible, but she helped me develop. Basketball was just something to do at first, but it became my life. On the weekends I was playing, on weekdays I was playing, staying after school for practice. I didn’t have a social life. Basketball was everything to me, and that helped me get more involved at school. It helped me meet so many new people.”

During her senior year, Tac averaged 15 points and nearly nine rebounds per game as she led her team to a 31-8 record and a District 10-5A championship. The Texas Girls Coaches Association also named Tac an All-State player. That year she signed a letter of intent to play basketball for the UNT, only 50 minutes away from her high school.

Around the same time that Tac signed her letter of intent to play for UNT, Mike Petersen was introduced as the new head coach for the Mean Green. Petersen said one of his first priorities as coach was to meet with his new signee.

“One of the first things I did was sit down and meet with her and talked about playing for me and all the things I thought we could do basketball-wise,” Petersen said.

During her freshman year, Tac appeared in 22 games as she got a feel for the college game. Her sophomore year started promisingly, as Tac’s size and versatility led her to average 8.3 points and seven rebounds per game, before she suffered a season-ending knee injury. Tac said while it was disappointing, her injury has helped her re-evaluate her game.

“It set me back. Honestly it was one of those things that you have to learn and grow from,” Tac said. “I had to mature and do rehab so I could get back for my team. I am still not back to where I was last year, but this is making me figure out different ways that I can help the team.”

Senior guard BreAnna Dawkins said Tac has worked hard during the offseason to come back strong, and it has shown.

“She worked on her game every day this summer. She worked to get better and to make this team better,” Dawkins said. “We can hit our goals. She can help us hit our goals. By working hard every day, by putting in the work and effort and telling us what she needs help with, she will help us win games.”

While the season has not gotten off to a favorable start for the Mean Green, as the team has dropped its first two home games, it will try to rebound and improve upon last year’s record of 12-18. Petersen said regardless of anything else, he can always count on Tac’s work ethic, and if she stays healthy, she can help the Mean Green succeed.

“I never have to worry if Acheil is working hard enough. She is always putting in extra work,” Petersen said.  “It was very frustrating to see what happened to her last year, but she did a good job. She worked hard. My biggest thing for her is to stay healthy. If she does, she will have a great year.”

Featured Image: Junior forward Acheil Tac shoots the ball against Northern Colorado University on Nov. 17 at home. The Mean Green lost 53-48 and are currently 0-2. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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