North Texas Daily

North Texas basketball meets the press on annual media day

North Texas basketball meets the press on annual media day

North Texas basketball meets the press on annual media day
October 28
23:40 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

The North Texas men’s and women’s basketball teams met the press during their annual media day on Tuesday to kick off the 2015-2016 season. Here’s what they had to say.

Men’s Team

After losing starters Jordan Williams and Colin Voss to graduation, head coach Tony Benford said he is confident in the ability of returning players to step up and embrace larger roles.

One of those players is sophomore forward Jeremy Combs, who was selected to the Conference USA All-Freshman team in 2014.

“I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I’ve progressed a lot from last year,” Combs said.

Another hopeful contributor to the team is junior transfer guard J-Mychal Reese, who was the top-rated point guard in Texas coming out of high school in 2012, according to ESPN.com.

Reese is one of many newcomers Benford said will help to improve guard play.

“I believe you have to have really good ball handers. You have to have good play at the point guard spot,” Benford said. “Guys have to get into the lane and create for themselves and for their teammates. Last year we obviously did the point guard by committee, but that’s an area I think we will be much improved on this year.”

Benford emphasized the quickness of the team throughout the summer and reiterated that point during media day, saying fans will have fun watching the team.

“This is probably the most athletic and fastest team I’ve ever coached,” Benford said. “I think our fans are going to enjoy it.”

The men ended last season with a blowout loss to Rice University in the C-USA tournament, a big reason Benford said he and many of the players are eager to start playing to get that taste out of their mouth.

“We feel like we can compete with anybody in this league and beat anybody in this league,” Benford said.

Women’s Team

After struggling in 2014 with a record of 5-24, North Texas hired alum Jalie Mitchell in the offseason to serve as head coach.

Mitchell insisted the team is not dwelling on the past and is instead looking forward to the potential they possess.

“I’m a believer,” Mitchell said. “I think some people are asleep on the talent we have, and I think it’s just a matter of us showing it. We have something to prove.”

One major issue that plagued the women’s team last year was its anemic offense. North Texas ranked last in C-USA in points per game, field goal percentage, three point percentage and free throw percentage.

The team also ran much of its offense via set plays in the half-court. Mitchell said she encourages fast paced gameplay including an up-tempo offense and a desire to disrupt passing lanes on defense.

“I think the style of play I want to play defensively is a little different than they’re used to,” Mitchell said. “But it’s something I think they have bought into.”

Senior forward Achiel Tac said a lot has changed since last season, but she’s still confident in the team’s ability to take a step forward.

“I think the culture has changed,” Tac said. “We talked about it three years ago, but I can see it happening now.”

Mitchell said she does not believe the rebuilding process will be a lengthy one, despite the fact it has been nine years since the women’s team had a winning record.

With the season nearly two weeks away, the C-USA preseason poll predicted North Texas to finish last in the conference. Mitchell said she’s aware of the poll and intends to use it as motivation for the upcoming campaign.

“I have expectations, and those expectations are not to be last,” Mitchell said. “That’s not something we believe about ourselves and it’s not something we want to show the world. We get up every day and practice every day in order to prove those guys wrong.”

Featured Image: File Photo

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