North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball emphasizing recruitment of point guards

Men’s basketball emphasizing recruitment of point guards

February 09
21:40 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Last season, the North Texas men’s basketball team lacked a true point guard. Without a floor general, the Mean Green utilized a “point guard by committee” style of play, meaning players with little to no experience facilitating and distributing the ball were often asked to run the offense.

North Texas ranked last in Conference USA in 2014 in assists per game as well as assist to turnover ratio. With this in mind, head coach Tony Benford has put an emphasis on recruiting what he calls combo guards—players that can run the point as well as play the wing.

“It’s the way the game is trending,” Benford said. “I think that’s the way it is. With the new rules, you can’t guard guys now. It’s tough to guard off the dribble. We want to make sure we have guards who can dribble, shoot and pass it. When you make up your roster, you want to have heavy seven guards and six [big men].”

Since the end of last year, junior guard J-Mychal Reese regained eligibility. Listed at 6’2, Reese has started every game at point guard for North Texas this season and is second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.1 points per contest.

The Mean Green also acquired junior guard Deckie Johnson and freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown in the offseason. Johnson, a 6’4 wingman has provided the offense with much needed floor spacing and gives the team a shooting threat on the perimeter.

In the middle of this season, North Texas picked up Southern Methodist University transfer guard Keith Frazier, a former McDonald’s High School All-American and the first ever to play at North Texas. Now, the Mean Green have jumped three spots this year in both assists and assists to turnover ratio, ranking 11th in C-USA in each category.

“It’s going to help us more,” Reese said. “It’s going to help us be a fast paced team and put up more points. There are a lot of teams around the country that play four guards and one big man, spreading the floor like that and breaking people down.”

The advantage of having a handful of guards on a team is twofold. Along with having depth on the bench, a surplus allows coaches to alter the lineup in accordance with size advantage or disadvantages.

It’s the same reason Benford favors combo guards, particularly the 6’5 Frazier.

“I think if you have a lot of guards who can play multiple positions, it’s only going to help your team,” Frazier said.

Even more intriguing is the outlook for next season. With each guard on the team returning in 2016, as well as picking up a yet-to-be-announced high school commit, the backcourt at the Super Pit has the potential to be crowded next year.

Nevertheless, neither Frazier nor Reese mind the competition, instead insisting the logjam will improve the team as well.

“It will be like second nature when you get into the game,” Reese said. “When you’re going against good competition, it makes playing in the game [easier].”

Although Benford has made a point to recruit guards, he has not neglected other positions. But with the trend of small-ball prevalent throughout college basketball, he wants to make certain his team is prepared to adapt and compete.

“You have to have great guard play,” Benford said. “If you look at the game, that’s where it’s at right now. I feel like we have really good guards here. But you still have to have a balance and good post players. You want to have that versatility.”

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