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New men’s basketball head coach Grant McCasland addresses students and UNT community at meet and greet

New men’s basketball head coach Grant McCasland addresses students and UNT community at meet and greet

Grant McCasland and his family at the Syndicate,Tuesday Mar. 21, 2017. Robert Warren

New men’s basketball head coach Grant McCasland addresses students and UNT community at meet and greet
March 21
17:46 2017

Amid a sea of green and cheering students, new North Texas men’s basketball head coach Grant McCasland made his way into the student union Tuesday morning. With the fight song blaring and Scrappy dancing, McCasland took center stage with athletic director Wren Baker.

He surveyed the scene for a few moments while Baker offered his praises, and before he knew it, was handed the microphone to address the crowd. As his wife and four children stood beside him, McCasland took it all in.

He was home.

“I am thrilled to be the basketball coach,” McCasland said. “This is a dream for me. It’s a huge blessing. When you get an opportunity to be somewhere you want to be for a while, it just makes sense.”

After spending just one season at Arkansas State University, McCasland inherits a Mean Green team that went just 8-22 last year and failed to qualify for the Conference USA tournament. McCasland also inherited all the players recruited by former head coach Tony Benford, most notably junior forward Jeremy Combs, who sat out the majority of 2016 with an ankle injury.

Combs was a preseason all-conference selection last year and averaged a double-double in 2015.

Although he is literally the new man on campus, McCasland said he does not expect to have any issues with players leaving or transferring. Several North Texas players attended McCasland’s welcome ceremony, including freshman guard Ryan Woolridge, who emerged as a formidable backcourt option late in the season.

“They didn’t come here to play for me,” McCasland said. “It’s going to take time for trust to be built. At this point, we’re planning on all of [our players] to stay.”

Despite all the changes, some North Texas players are excited for what the future holds. Sophomore center Rickey Brice Jr. was another member of the Mean Green in attendance Tuesday and is ready to suit up for his new coach.

“I love coach McCasland,” Brice said. “He has a lot of experience being at Arkansas State and Baylor. He’s going to bring a lot to this university. I feel like the new Denton is here. We’re going to [turn] things around.”

McCasland’s hire was also a big moment for Baker, who landed his first head coach at North Texas. A former basketball coach himself, Baker has repeatedly spoken about his passion not only for the sport, but getting the Mean Green back on track.

“We found somebody who is a great, great leader,” Baker said. “I have been longing for the days when [North Texas] is back in the NCAA tournament.”

McCasland is the 18th head coach in North Texas history and has an all-time record of 219-56 for a 79.6 win percentage. He grew up in Dallas-Fort Worth and graduated from Irving High School. Prior to Arkansas State, McCasland was a coach at Midland College and Midwestern State University, where he reached back-to-back Elite Eights in Division II and even won a national title at Midland.

McCasland’s goal is to bring that same success to North Texas.

“I see a hunger in [this team’s] eyes for winning,” McCasland said. “And I want [the students] on this campus to be excited about the teams we beat.”

Featured Image: Grant McCasland and his family at the Syndicate, Tuesday  March 21, 2017. Robert Warren

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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