North Texas Daily

Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 5

Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 5

February 08
15:25 2016

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

North Texas basketball head coaches Jalie Mitchell and Tony Benford each returned to Rudy’s BBQ Monday to cover the latest week in Conference-USA action. Although each had critiques and numerous things for their teams to work on, there was a shared sense of confidence and excitement about what their squads are capable of doing in the near future.

First Half: Jalie Mitchell

Last Thursday, Mean Green women’s basketball fell 57-38 on the road to the University of Southern Mississippi, a team that still holds an undefeated home record (11-0). North Texas (8-12, 3-7) scored just four points in the third quarter and tied for its lowest point total of the season.

North Texas women's basketball head coach Jalie Mitchell talks with Steven Bartolotta on the Coach's Show at Rudy's BBQ. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

North Texas women’s basketball head coach Jalie Mitchell talks with Steven Bartolotta on the Coach’s Show at Rudy’s BBQ. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

“In the second half, it just seemed like we couldn’t get anything to fall,” Mitchell said. “We still kept our energy on the defensive end, which I was pleased with. Anytime you hold a team to under 60 points, I think you’re in good shape to try to win the game.”

The Mean Green bounced back strong in a competitive game two days later, but failed to overcome Louisiana Tech University, losing 77-71. Ultimately, the North Texas defense couldn’t slow down opposing senior Brandi Wingate in the fourth quarter, who finished with a game-high 29 points.

“If [Wingate] wasn’t getting it done inside, she was getting to the free throw line and knocking them down there,” Mitchell said. “I thought had we made some more free throws, layups and easy buckets that we normally make, that could have been a win for us.”

Six players finished the game with four or more fouls, including starting guards Kelsey Criner and Candice Adams, which gave senior guard and this week’s player guest Kasiney Williams extra playing time. The 5-foot-1-inch guard tied her career highs in assists (5) and steals (3) in a season-high 36 minutes.

Senoir guard Kassiney Williams smiles as she talks with Steve Bartolotta on the Coach's Show at Rudy's BBQ. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Senoir guard Kassiney Williams smiles as she talks with Steve Bartolotta on the Coach’s Show at Rudy’s BBQ. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

“If we play the way that we played this past Saturday, we’ll do big things,” Williams said. “We’ll make it to the conference championship.”

The Mean Green will return to Denton for its two games this week, looking to put an end to its recent three-game skid. Both of its upcoming matchups come against top seven teams in C-USA, and North Texas desperately needs at least one win to remain in good position to qualify for next month’s conference tournament.

“You have to get better. You can’t relax,” Mitchell said. “You can’t show your fatigue, your tiredness or anything like that. It’s about you finish, so it’s time to be strong and be our best together.”

Second Half: Tony Benford

Headed into last week on a five-game losing streak, Mean Green men’s basketball found the win column in both of its previous two games. With the help of an improved defense and large crowds at the Super Pit, Benford’s squad defeated both Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech by double digits.

“Last week, we worked on our defense. We’ve been working on it all season,” Benford said. “We worked on our zone, our man, making sure our guys knew what our rotations were, which way to bring ball pressure, working on our double teams in the post. It really paid off.”

North Texas men's basketball head coach Tony Benford grins as he talks about Rickey Brice's passion on the court on the Coach's Show at Rudy's BBQ. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Men’s basketball head coach Tony Benford grins as he talks about Rickey Brice’s passion on the court on the Coach’s Show at Rudy’s BBQ. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

North Texas (9-14, 4-6) trailed by ten points at halftime on Saturday, but roared back for an 11-point victory on the back of junior guard Deckie Johnson. The Angelina College transfer scored 15 consecutive points for the Mean Green early in the second half, including four three-pointers.

“Once one went in, they started raining from all over the place,” Benford said. “His teammates did a great job of getting him the ball.”

After four straight games with little to no bench production, the Mean Green proved they’re deeper than they’ve looked at times this season. Eight players saw at least 10 minutes of action on Saturday, including this week’s player guest, freshman guard Allante Holston.

“This is the beginning for us,” Holston said. “We’ve had a few bumps in the road, but we’re just ready to keep winning.”

North Texas freshman guard Allante Holston smiles as he talks with Dave Barnett on the Coach's Show at Rudy's BBQ. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Freshman guard Allante Holston smiles as he talks with Dave Barnett on the Coach’s Show at Rudy’s BBQ. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

North Texas will look to improve on its 1-8 road record in its upcoming matchups at Old Dominion University and at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Thursday poses the biggest challenge for the Mean Green, as it will have the task of slowing down ODU’s Trey Freeman, C-USA’s leading scorer and reigning player of the week.

“It’s tough to get the ball out of his hands,” Benford said. “We’ll throw multiple defenders at him, and we’ll probably trap him some off ball screens. They run a lot of action for him too off the ball off stagger screens, so we’re really going to have to be on the floor with our help defense.”

Featured Image: Men’s basketball head coach Tony Benford talks with Dave Barnett on the Coach’s Show at Rudy’s BBQ. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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