North Texas Daily

Newcomers, height key for men’s basketball

Newcomers, height key for men’s basketball

Newcomers, height key for men’s basketball
October 29
23:59 2014

Ehsan Azad / Staff Writer

As the Mean Green basketball team prepares to start its season Nov. 10, the team is trying to integrate new players to its roster.

North Texas is trying to improve on last year’s finish, when it went 16-16 and was eliminated in the second round of the Conference USA tournament. Only five players from last year’s team are returning.

With that being the case, one concern for the team is how the new parts will fit, but head coach Tony Benford isn’t worried about that.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an issue at all, because our two leaders, Colin Voss and Jordan Williams, are dong a tremendous job of leading these guys,” Benford said. “I am always telling these guys that you win in the locker room first. They are doing a great job in there and it is carrying over to the court where everybody is competing.”

Williams returns as the team’s leading scorer from last year and Voss returns as its second leading rebounder. Voss said the team’s chemistry is even better than it was last year.

“Everybody gets along great off the court, they get along good on the court. We’re starting to pick up on how we all play together,” Voss said. “The more time we play with each other, the more we will get to know each other.”

Voss said it has been difficult to get some of the newcomers adjusted to the system because a lot of them haven’t played Division I college basketball before. 

“Last year, a lot of our new guys had experiences from other Division I colleges. We had a lot of transfers last year,” Voss said. “This year is high school kids and junior colleges, so they have never played in a Division I system.”

One of the new players is freshman forward Jeremy Combs. He played at Dallas Carter High School and is already impressing the coaching staff.

“I think some people are surprised by his athleticism,” Benford said. “I have been doing this 23 or 24 years and he is just talented.”

Benford said after Combs had an impressive day at practice, Voss asked him how the Mean Green was able to land him. Voss also told his head coach he thought Combs was going to play well.

“He’s right,” Benford said. “I think Jeremy has a chance to be a really good player.”

One of the issues that Combs and the rest of the team will have to face is playing small ball this season, because of the team’s lack of height. The tallest player on the roster is senior forward Armani Flannigan, who is listed at 6 feet 8 inches.

Despite that, Benford said he sees a lot of teams moving toward that style of play.

“If you look around the country now, even in the NBA, you got teams that are playing small ball,” Benford said. “Our issue is that we are going to be rebounding the basketball. We got to make sure we are rebounding the basketball and defend.”

Benford said he tells his players they don’t have to be the tallest to do well at rebounding and used Hall of Fame basketball player Dennis Rodman, who wasn’t tall but was known for his rebounding skills, as an example.

“You don’t have to be the biggest guy to rebound a basketball. It is all heart, toughness and tenacity,” Benford said. “I think we got some guys like that.”

Flannigan said one of the advantages to playing small will be the team’s speed.

“We are going to be a fast break team. We got a lot of fast forwards, a lot of fast guards. We’re going to push the ball up and down,” Flannigan said. “We are smaller, but we got to use our speed to our advantage.”

Though the team was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, Benford said this team has potential.

“We got a lot of guys that can shoot the basketball, great versatility with our big guys and I really like our guards,” Benford said. “I think we have a chance to be a good basketball team and we just got to play harder every night.”

Featured Image: Jeremy Combs shoots the ball to score in the Basketball Madness scrimage match on Oct. 23 in the Super Pit. Photo by Harris Buchanan – Staff Photographer

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