I stopped by the UNT Mean Green men’s final basketball practice before they hit the road for the first three games to start the season. The UNT Mean Green will open the season in Nebraska against the Creighton Blue Jays before heading to Manhattan, KS for the NIT Season tipoff tournament where they will play Alabama-Huntsville and either Kansas State or Lamar. I spoke to senior players Roger Franklin and Jacob Holmen about the excitement surrounding this season and their roles as leaders on the team.
“We’ve been practicing hard since July and to open the season against a ranked team in my last season makes me extremely excited. Were still very young, but me being the only here for 4 years I defiantly feel like the old man on the team, they really do look at me for leadership, I’m here to guide them and if they need any advice I’m here for them”.
“This team is very excited, we took a tough loss (last season) to Western Kentucky last year so the fact that we get to get back and finally prove what we can do I’m really excited and I know this ballclub is as well”. “As a senior the main thing I try to do is make sure these guys are ready to go, making sure they are taking care of their business on the court and off the court. Because if they aren’t taking care of business off the court that’s going to effect what’s on the court. I try and lead by example and let these guys know you still have to go to class, still have to take care of your body, still have to eat right, still have to get your rest. I think its my responsibility to do that”.
The Projected Starters and Reserves for this years UNT Mean Green Basketball team:
Chris Jones SO, G
Alzee Williams SO, G
Jacob Holmen SR, F
Roger Franklin SR, G/F
Tony Mitchell SO, F
Brandon Walton SR, G
P.J. Hardwick FR, G
Austin Mitchell FR, G
Justin Patton SR, F
T.J. Taylor SO, G
Clarke Overlander FR, G
Jordan Williams SO, G/F
Niko Stojilkovic SR, F
Keith Coleman SO, F
Coach Benford said that the team is a bit banged up, but everyone is at this time of the year and he things most of his players will be ready to go by game time on Friday. Starter Jacob Holemen did sit out of practice Wednesday, but they are hopeful that he will be ready to play Friday. The Creighton Blue Jays are ranked in the top 16 in the nation in both major polls, and they are armed with one of the best players in the country in Doug McDermott.
UNT Mean Green Head Coach Tony Benford was asked about the highly touted matchup of Creighton’s Doug McDermott versus UNT’s Tony Mitchell:
“You have two of the best players in the country, and one of the best matchups as far as players go in the county”.
It will undoubtedly be exiting as the UNT Mean Green tip off their most anticipated season ever on Friday night against the Creighton Blue Jays, but fans will have to wait until next Friday the 16th to see them in person when they take on Cameron University at 7pm in the Super Pit.