North Texas Daily

Men’s and women’s basketball roundtable: predictions for the 2016 season

Men’s and women’s basketball roundtable: predictions for the 2016 season

Junior guard J-Mychal Reese does a cross over against Southern Mississippi. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Men’s and women’s basketball roundtable: predictions for the 2016 season
November 07
14:15 2016

Editor’s note: The North Texas Daily sports staff has analyzed both the Mean Green men’s and women’s basketball teams ahead of the upcoming 2016 season.

What is the men’s team’s biggest strength going into the season? 

Reece Waddell: Theoretically, it should be their depth. With the addition of McDonald’s All-American Keith Frazier and transfers Shane Temara and Ryan Woolridge, the Mean Green are in a position to win now. North Texas returns team captain and preseason all-conference selection Jeremy Combs, as well as senior guards J-Mychal Reese and Deckie Johnson. When everyone becomes eligible, I think this team has serious potential if they play up to it.

Clay Massey: From talking to head coach Tony Benford, it seems like this group has matured quite a bit from last season. If that is indeed true, this could mean big things for the Mean Green. Immaturity plagued the squad last season, especially in their inability to win road games.

Austin Jackson: Urgency. The one thing North Texas hasn’t lacked in the Benford era is talent. With the addition of senior guard Keith Frazier, a former McDonald’s All-American and graduate forward Derial Green, Benford will have his most talented team to date. But what I believe can ignite the resurgence of Mean Green is the team’s collective fight to lift their coach off the hot-seat.

What is the women’s team’s biggest strength going into the season?

Matt Brune: Their biggest strength is last year’s biggest weakness depth. In the scrimmage, Mitchell brought talented senior Candace Adams, and two stud transfers in Tyara Warren and Madison Townley off of the bench, and they all made an impact. Furthermore, they have size coming off of the bench in junior Tosin Mabodu and sophomore Micayla Buckner who both contribute to my secondary strength, rebounding. They outrebounded TWU 30-15 in the second half, which was huge in their scrimmage victory.

Courtney Anderson: Depth. Last season North Texas recruited four transfers from power-five conferences and three are eligible this season. It will be interesting to see what they are able to do together this year. The Mean Green also return leading scorer Kelsey Criner, which is a huge plus.

Trevon McWilliams: Their experience and leadership. The fact that they have most of their starters returning, including senior guard Candice Adams, is huge. Defeating Oklahoma last season was a big deal, and is sure to help build team morale. That combination of experience and great coaching in Jalie Mitchell does a lot for the young players and can create a big impact on both sides of the floor.

North Texas junior guard Kelsey Criner dribbles toward the baseline against Old Dominion University. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

North Texas junior guard Kelsey Criner dribbles toward the baseline against Old Dominion University. Colin Mitchell

What is the men’s team’s biggest weakness going into the season?

Waddell: Size. North Texas has only one guy above seven feet, and it’s sophomore Rickey Brice Jr. He had a rough freshman campaign, so if things don’t go well again, the Mean Green could get pummeled on the glass. Eric Katenda, North Texas’ top frontcourt contributor from last season, graduated in the spring, so it will be up to Combs, Temara and other undersized forwards to box out and secure rebounds.

Massey: Turnovers will be absolutely deadly to this team. Last year it had the worst assist to turnover ratio in the conference. If that happens again, this very athletic team will be crippled.

Jackson: Although sophomore center Rickey Brice Jr. has all it takes to become a legit defensive anchor, the biggest weakness for the team remains their depth in the frontcourt. The guard-heavy roster will let it fly on offense and let their opponents fly by on defense. The 2016 season will be fun to watch but only time will tell if the Mean Green can manufacture enough crunch time stops to win on a consistent basis.

What is the women’s team’s biggest weakness going into the season?

Brune: Weaknesses were shown in their sole practice game, but what stood out to me was the fact that they did not hit a single three and only attempted nine. The majority of the offense attempted to run through the post against the smaller Pioneers, but there were opportunities to shoot more from the perimeter. Not being able to stretch the floor will be an issue for the team going forward.

Anderson: Almost half of the team is made up of newcomers, so that can also be seen as an unpredictable aspect. Also, the women will be on the road for four games in a row, so it will be interesting to see how they do away from the Super Pit again this year. SMU is also on the road and North Texas has never beat SMU two years in a row. It will be another season of firsts if things work out for the Mean Green.

McWilliams: Overall, this team is a bit undersized, which could present problems for them if they play an opponent who is taller or more athletic.

What is your season prediction for the men, and why do you think that?

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) drives the lane for a layup against Troy. Colin Mitchell | Intern Photographer

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) drives the lane for a layup against Troy. Colin Mitchell

Waddell: If North Texas does not make a run in the Conference USA tournament, or stumbles out of the gate, this will be head coach Tony Benford’s last season in Denton. That said, this is without question the most talented team Benford has coached. He says he thinks they can win 20 games, and to do that they will have to take care of business away from the Super Pit, which they have not done in recent years. I think North Texas finishes 17-13 and gets bounced by a UAB or Western Kentucky in the later rounds of the C-USA tournament.

Massey: 20 or less wins. The Mean Green have the talent to compete, it’s just can they put it all together. Benford is in his final year, and must produce. He knows that and the players know that. They want to win, and have to win if Benford is going to stick around.

Jackson: I think North Texas will make dramatic strides this year. With their experience and depth, I really see this team improving and changing the minds of a disgruntled fan-base. After a strong 17-13 showing in the regular season and a C-USA title run I predict a 10-year extension for the face of Mean Green men’s basketball, Tony Benford.

What is your season prediction for the women, and why do you think that?

Brune: This team is going to be good, I liked a lot of what I saw Sunday night, and they should do well in their opening tournament. But they do have a somewhat tough non-conference schedule that includes Arizona and Indiana, which will benefit them. They are predicted sixth in the conference I think anywhere from 4-6 is reasonable, so I’ll pick them to end up with a final record of 17-14 in Mitchell’s second year.

Anderson: Last season the Mean Green improved to 11-19 in Jalie Mitchell’s first year as head coach, and I expect that trend to continue.

McWilliams: 17-13. With excellent backcourt leadership in Adams and Criner along with Mitchell, I believe this team will be a force in C-USA. Their defense can be suspect at times, but if they lock down on that end of the floor, watch out.

Featured Image: Senior guard J-Mychal Reese does a cross over against Southern Mississippi last season. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell was the Editor-in-Chief of the North Texas Daily from May 2017 to December 2017. He previously served as the Sports Editor and Senior Sports Writer. Reece also worked at The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV.

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