North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball shows hustle and intensity in first practice under McCasland

Men’s basketball shows hustle and intensity in first practice under McCasland

September 30
15:17 2017

In the last 17 minutes of their first official practice, the Mean Green men’s basketball team ran full court 5-on-5, a scrimmage with the intensity of a conference game in mid-January.

Sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge stepped in and attempted to take a charge early in the scrimmage, but nothing was called by the coaches. Woolridge wasted no time as he sprung back up off the sweat-saturated hardwood and took another blow right to the chest from an oncoming player merely seconds later.

This time it was called.

Woolridge, along with sophomore guard A.J. Lawson, are two of the seven returning players on this new Mean Green team, and they could both feel the energy in the building on their first official practice with new head coach Grant McCasland.

“The energy is really good out there,” Lawson said. “Everybody is here to compete and work hard. We’re just trying to start over fresh.”

Dribble handoffs, pocket passes and transition defense were just a few of the fundamentals that McCasland touched on in his first practice.

Regardless of the drill they were doing, everyone seemed engaged and felt the pressure to improve already.

“The  competitiveness was consistent,” McCasland said. “What I appreciate about this team is they’re highly competitive, so that was a good sign.”

Freshman forward Zach Simmons (24) rebounds the ball during a drill. Sara Carpenter

Schematically, North Texas has used a basic motion offense, but nothing too complex since the majority of this team is young and has not built any chemistry with one another. That may take the entire season to build.

But on the other side of the ball, McCasland was pleased with the defensive and rebounding intensity his team showed.

“You can tell our defense is ahead of where we are offensively and that’s to be expected.” McCasland said. “I love the fact we have guys who are coachable and want to get better.”

Several players were called out in the opening practice for a multitude of mistakes, but the players took the criticism and learned from it instead of getting down.

Sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart underwent his first real practice at North Texas. Him and the entire team admitted fatigue showed in their first run, but they were able to overcome it.

“We got a little fatigued early,” Smart said. “Everything picked back up once we got a break, so we worked hard and got better today.”

The fatigue gave the team a bit of adversity in the opening day, but in their first practice of the season, not everything is supposed to be perfect.

“It was a good start for us to see some adversity come up and us to deal with it,” McCasland said. “For us, to make [practice] as consistent and simple as we can, and allow our guys to compete and make plays, that’s where we’ll have the most success.”

Featured Image: Sophomore point guard Ryan Woolridge (0) drives the lane in the first practice of the season. Sara Carpenter

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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