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Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 2

Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 2

Junior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) gets stopped in front of the basket while going up for a layup against Marshall. Reese went 3-12 from the field in the first half which helped Marshall lead 33-61 at half. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 2
January 18
14:43 2016

Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

@alexlikechexmix

With its first episode of the season airing last week, the North Texas basketball coach’s show returned to Rudy’s BBQ in Denton at noon Monday to discuss recent games and look ahead to the next week of action. Along with a couple guests, head coach Tony Benford and women’s head coach Jalie Mitchell each spent 30 minutes covering the latest team topics as conference play begins to heat up.

First Half: Jalie Mitchell

The women’s team (7-8, 2-3) came away with a split after two road games this week against Marshall University and Western Kentucky University, each of which hold two of the top three overall records in Conference-USA. Mitchell was extra satisfied with Tuesday’s 71-63 win over Marshall, ending the Herd’s chances at an undefeated home record this season.

North Texas trailed by as much as 20 points during Saturday’s game against IUPUI before making a comeback in the second half. Matthew Brown | Senior Staff Photographer

North Texas trailed by as much as 20 points during Saturday’s game against IUPUI before making a comeback in the second half. Matthew Brown | Senior Staff Photographer

“That was actually a really fun game to play, I’m sure, and really fun to coach with us getting back to what’s important,” Mitchell said. “There were three things we really needed to focus on: defense, rebounding and making our free throws. We did all three things well in that game.”

Those philosophies have helped the team already surpass last season’s win total with seven this year. Helping lead the charge is junior guard Candice Adams, who’s stepped up her leadership role and leads the team with 25 three-pointers this season.

“I think she’s kind of taken that responsibility somewhat before, from what I could tell,” Mitchell said. “So I definitely have been trying to get her to be more of a leader on and off the court, understand what that means exactly, what that looks like, and she’s been very perceptive of me asking that of her.”

Adams also stopped by as a guest on the show, crediting the team’s confidence and improvement to the 61-57 victory on the road against the University of Oklahoma on Nov. 16.

“I’m very proud of my teammates,” Adams said. “It was really fun. It was exciting. The atmosphere was really different for us with the preseason being so successful. They worked hard, they bought in, and they were sharp and focused.”

Mitchell’s squad will play its next two games at home this week, the first coming on Thursday, Jan. 20 against Middle Tennessee State University, a team that North Texas hasn’t defeated since 2006. In order to get over that hump and protect home court, Mitchell said the team needs to remain focused on its fundamental values.

“Our offensive stats are more impressive than our defensive right now, so I want to shed that a little bit,” Mitchell said. “Maintain performance on the offensive end, but also fix up when it comes to defensive rebounding.”

Second Half: Tony Benford

Before diving into basketball, both Benford and associate head coach Rob Evans spent a few minutes to talk about Martin Luther King, someone Evans said had a huge impact on himself and numerous players on the current Mean Green roster. When asked about what King might say to Donald Trump if they ever met, Evans recapped some of the things he went through as a young adult and stayed true to King’s beliefs on a day of remembrance.

“Everybody is created the same,” Evans said. “What you do with it is your own thing. Your mind is what really is important.”

Evans and Benford could not help the men’s team (7-11, 2-3) come out victorious in either of its home games this week, losing by 19 and 5 points in two conference matchups played in the Super Pit. Despite the losses, Benford was proud of recent play from sophomore forward Jeremy Combs, who’s now averaging 20.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game in C-USA action.

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) throws down a dunk off of a break away against WKU. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) throws down a dunk off of a break away against WKU. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

“He’s playing really, really well,” Benford said. “I told him teams are going to try to get into his head. One guy got into him, he was talking, but I told him to keep playing hard. He can be the MVP of the league the way he’s playing, no doubt.”

Graduate forward Eric Katenda also made a guest appearance, a player that has made key contributions both off the bench and as a starter as the season has progressed.

“I’m feeling more comfortable out there,” Katenda said. “We have a lot of new guys on the team, so just mold it all together to see what works and what doesn’t. I feel like we’re starting to click, but we’ve still got work to do.”

The men’s team has a tough week ahead with road matchups against two of the top three teams in C-USA, but Benford remained confident that with continued dominance from Combs and consistent improvement from junior guard J-Mychal Reese, his team can prevail.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge for us on the road, but if our guys continue to play well, we can do a great job,” Benford said.

Keep an eye out for more coach’s show recaps coming up every Monday after the show throughout the remainder of the season to stay updated on all of North Texas basketball.

Featured Image: Junior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) gets stopped in front of the basket while going up for a layup against Marshall. Reese went 3-12 from the field in the first half which helped Marshall lead 33-61 at half. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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