North Texas Daily

Mean Green growing more familiar with McCasland’s style as season heats up

Mean Green growing more familiar with McCasland’s style as season heats up

November 15
22:39 2017

Grant McCasland started his coaching career in 2004 when he was 27 years old at Midland College. After making the climb from junior college to Division II, he moved on to Baylor and Arkansas State – now, McCasland is in Denton leading the Mean Green.

While it’s still early, McCasland has started the process of instilling what he wants his program to look like. His efforts so far are based off multiple experiences and learning moments in the past.

“Because I was so fortunate to be a head coach at such a young age, a majority [of my style] is through experience,” McCasland said. “Every person I’ve worked for has an imprint in what I do. Even coaches I’ve coached against have had an impact on what I value and what I think helps win basketball games.”

As McCasland continues to evolve as a coach, his tendencies have already made their impact on the team – even before the third game of the season tips off.

His preferred pace of play has fluctuated as he continues to learn more about his personnel with every passing day. However, he is a coach who values both half-court offense as well as getting out on the break when possible.

“I think we’re probably medium paced right now,” McCasland said. “We want to push on misses and then try to do a better job of managing the clock on makes. [But] it’s mainly going to be based on [our] personnel.”

When the team gets in transition, sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge is often the one who has the ball in his hands making decisions.

Against Nebraska, Woolridge had five turnovers and the team had 17. While some coaches would pounce on the opportunity to bench their players to learn, McCasland has let the young players play through a lot of their mistakes early on.

“He’s had a lot of leniency,” Woolridge said. “In the second game I had more turnovers, but he still wanted me to push the ball. So he’s pretty lenient [because] he’s wanting me to push the [pace].”

Offensively, the Mean Green have a good number of shooters who can space the floor for Woolridge in the half-court. One of those scorers is sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart, who can hit the open three while also being adept in scoring in one-on-one situations.

The isolation scoring that Smart did last season in the junior college ranks has been minimized because he can work off ball more. This plays into another one of McCasland’s points of emphasis – shot quality.

“He definitely gets on us about taking quick shots,” Smart said. “We can work the shot clock down so the defense has to guard us. It’s something I’m still getting used to [taking better shots] because in [junior college] I was an isolation player, so I’m trying to be more careful with my shot selection.”

The shooters have taken clean looks so far as they’re shooting over 38 percent from three in two games. Of their 18 3-pointers made, six have come from the corners – a spot McCasland likes to see shots go up from.

“Space the floor [by] running to the corners, basically,” Woolridge said. “That gives us a lot of space so we can penetrate and kick and get people open shots.”

When it comes to transitioning from offense to defense, some coaches prefer crashing the offensive glass while others make it a point to get back in transition defense. It can be a tough line to balance if a plan isn’t installed early.

The first-year coach wants the Mean Green to be aggressive and that includes when trying to get extra possessions on the offensive glass.

“We have some guys that are get-back guys and some guys that are offensive rebounders,” McCasland said. “Most of the time we’re sending three to the glass and two back, but it changes depending on personnel.”

The team’s base defense is a man-to-man look this season which they have drilled hundreds of times in practice. However, they also have a zone scheme which is malleable to their players and the opponent.

McCasland went to the zone in the second half of their game against Nebraska, but Smart does not expect it to be a staple for North Texas moving forward.

“I feel like we’ll put it in in certain times,” Smart said. “But I think we’re going to stick with man right now [as our base].”

McCasland wants to get a solid rotation of 10 guys in the coming weeks of non-conference play. As players begin to prove their worth on the courts rotations will change – for now though, the focus is on cutting down on fouls.

The final quirk for McCasland’s style as a coach is his preference to sit or stand on the sidelines during each game.

In the first few games for the new head coach, he’s been up, waving and yelling. As the season goes on, though, he feels he’ll be a little more relaxed as the team becomes more comfortable in the new system.

“As the season goes on I’ll sit more,” McCasland said. “Just early in the season there are so many things you have to be involved in, and they have to hear me, so I think I’m a little more aggressive.”

Featured Image: North Texas men’s basketball head coach Grant McCasland took over the program this season and brings a unique style to the table for a program that has struggled over the last few years. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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