North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball looks to build off CBI championship in 2018 season

Men’s basketball looks to build off CBI championship in 2018 season

Men’s basketball looks to build off CBI championship in 2018 season
October 26
11:24 2018

The North Texas men’s basketball team is set to play their first game at home at the Super Pit on Nov. 6 against the Angelo State Rams.

The Mean Green are coming off a season in which they made substantial school history after defeating the University of San Francisco in three games to win the 16-team College Basketball Invitational tournament.

North Texas will enter the season with elevated expectations for the 2018-2019 season after a 20-8 season, which they placed eighth in Conference USA.

“Conference championship and the NCAA tournament are the main [focuses] we have right now,” junior guard Roosevelt Smart said.

Smart was the leading scorer for the Mean Green in the 2017-18 season and averaged 19.5 points per contest. He’s not the only guard who has been putting up numbers for the Mean Green, however. Junior Ryan Woolridge averaged 12.7 points per game and transfer redshirt junior DJ Draper hit 49 three-pointers for the team last season.

“Our guard play is crazy,” Smart said. “Everybody is getting better and getting focused on this upcoming season.”

While North Texas will look to improve their already impressive 2017-18 outing, the work athletes put in during the offseason will play a major factor in how the team will fare this coming season.

“A lot of guys got some rhythm [and are] looking a lot more confident out there,” sophomore forward Zach Simmons said. “That should help us close out games.”

Many of the players said they are proud of their dedication to practice during the offseason, and they look to apply those skills this season. 

“I can’t [name] anybody [on the team] who wasn’t in the gym all summer, getting work in and getting shots up,” Simmons said. “We’ve got guys with more experience now who are a little more confident. Our toughness and togetherness is going to be something very big for us.”

The Mean Green competed in a tournament in Italy during the offseason, during which they went  undefeated and won each game with a comfortable margin.

North Texas averaged eight three-pointers made per game on 35 percent shooting, which was on average one more than their opponents. As the game of basketball continues to evolve and shooting and fast offensive strategy becomes more prominent, the team plans to rely on their shooting just as much as they did last season — if not more.

“Three-point shooting is one of our biggest strengths, and communication and togetherness is huge for us,” Draper said.

The question for 2018 is whether the team will be able to improve its 8-10 record in conference play last season — and the Mean Green believe they can. 

The team will start play at home on Nov. 6 and will then travel to Hawaii for their first tournament of the season in the Outrigger Hotel Rainbow Classic.

“I’m expecting a lot of big things,” Draper said. “I expect to win the conference and to do things that’s never been done in school history and go as far as we can.”

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart dribbles the ball down the court in a game against Grambling State on Nov. 27 at the Super Pit. Smart is a transfer from New Mexico Junior College and is a starter for the Mean Green. Sara Carpenter

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Joshua Paveglio

Joshua Paveglio

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