North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball team happy to be healthy

Men’s basketball team happy to be healthy

Men’s basketball team happy to be healthy
January 16
10:23 2014

Akshay Mirchandani // Staff Writer

For the first time since the beginning of last season, the Mean Green men’s basketball team has no players held back by injury.

Junior forwards Kelvin Gaines (13 games) and Colin Voss (two games) dealt with a knee injury and a quadriceps injury, respectively, forcing them to miss games this season. With junior guard T.J. Taylor also missing time, it was a rough start to the season for the Mean Green basketball team.

However, head coach Tony Benford finally has all of his players and said he is looking forward to using all the talent on the roster.

“It feels great,” Benford said. “I think as any coach at any level — college, NBA or high school — you want to have your full roster. And we’re finally at that stage. It helps us in practices, when we have a lot of depth and competition in practice, and it’s going to help us in the game.”

Head coach Tony Benford takes a break during practice on Monday afternoon at the Super Pit. Benford feels great about having a healthy team. Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photograper

Head coach Tony Benford takes a break during practice on Monday afternoon at the Super Pit. Benford feels great about having a healthy team. Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photograper

Taylor suffered a broken nose and a quad injury that held him out of exhibition play and lingered throughout the beginning of the regular season. He said having to sit on the sideline and watch his teammates play without him was a challenge, but it’s great to be back.

“It’s all a blessing,” Taylor said. “It shows you can never take this for granted.”

Benford said the team doctors and trainers have done a great job of dealing with injuries and Taylor acknowledged how much they helped him.

“I spent a lot of time with our trainer, E.J. [Hairston],” Taylor said. “I owe it all to him, because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be able to play. It took about a month and a half, almost two months, to finally get back to normal.”

Senior guard Alzee Williams had to sit out his entire sophomore year after sustaining a knee injury, and said he knows what his teammates had to go through. Williams said it feels good to have all of the pieces back on the team.

Senior guard Alzee Williams is the North Texas' leading scorer. He scored his 900th career point in the win at Texas A&M. Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photographer

Senior guard Alzee Williams is the North Texas’ leading scorer. He scored his 900th career point in the win at Texas A&M. Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photographer

“I know it’s kind of tough on them,” Williams said. “They want to be out there with us and go through the battle that we’re all going through. Just for them to be back out here, I’m just proud of them because I know that’s a tough feeling.”

Williams has been healthy all year and he said that having all of his teammates makes it easier to run Benford’s fast-paced system.

“We want to run in transition offensively. When you’re deep, you can do that because you can put a lot of pressure on the defense,” Benford said. “If a guy gets tired, you can put another guy in. We also want to play full-court man and zone press, and when you have your full complement of players you’re able to do that.”

With everyone back, Benford said that the team will be able to do some things it wasn’t able to do when the season started on offense and defense. However, despite having everyone back, there will be challenges that the team still has to overcome.

“The only thing that’s tough when you have guys out is that they’re still trying to get acclimated to what you’re doing offensively and defensively,” Benford said.

Williams said he is optimistic that with everyone back this team is capable of doing well for the rest of the season.

“I think we’re capable of being a good team and being an NCAA Tournament team,” Williams said. “That’s what I think, we just have to put it together.”

Feature photo: Junior guard T.J. Taylor dribbles the ball during practice at the Super Pit on Monday afternoon. Returning from injuries last season, Taylor is ready for the conference play. Head coach Tony Benford expects Taylor to make a major contribution to the team with his great skills on offense and defense. Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photographer

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