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  1. The Mean Green will lose seniors Vertrail Vaughns and Brandan Walton. It will also lose its second leading scorer Alzee Williams, who said he thinks the team can improve its end result next season and will leave with fond memories of UNT. “I’m really sad about the season being over, but I’m trying to look at it from a positive side,” Williams said. “Since I’ve been here I’ve been to the [NCAA] tournament, I won a conference championship freshman year and some good things have happened. I wish we could’ve made the tournament this year, but I’m glad we at least came out .500.” Benford said the team needs to work better at closing out games and hanging with the teams at the top of the conference, and having eight of the 11 of the players back next season will help. “We got to figure out how to put ourselves in a position to beat some of the top teams in the league and I think we will,” Benford said. “Some of the teams are losing some of their top players and we have most ours coming back. It’s a great league; it’s a step up above the Sun Belt.” Read more: http://ntdaily.com/basketball-teams-establish-cultures-despite-early-round-exits/
  2. UNT saw its season come to an end today, when the Mean Green fell to Tulane 66-61 in a second-round game in the Conference USA tournament. The second season of the Tony Benford era concluded with a 16-16 mark and naturally questions about the direction of the program. That’s the case good or bad in college sports. We went though the same process in football a few weeks ago when it was obvious UNT is headed up under Dan McCarney. The issue with UNT’s men’s basketball program is there are a couple of different ways to look at it. I asked Rick Villarreal about the program before UNT’s game against Rice. I used one quote on the blog yesterday. Here’s another piece of what Villarreal had to say. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2014/03/thoughts-on-unt-mens-hoops.html/
  3. Opportunities for wins in league play have been few and far between for North Texas in its first season in Conference USA. The Mean Green had one Thursday night at the Super Pit against Old Dominion, only to fumble it away and officially hit rock bottom in the C-USA standings. UNT was in position to pull out of its late-season tailspin but let a late one-point lead slip away in an avalanche of mistakes that saddled UNT with a 72-62 loss. The Mean Green’s fifth straight setback left UNT (11-13) sitting at 2-8 in C-USA play and in a four-way tie for last with Rice, Marshall and East Carolina. The Mean Green will face ECU at home Saturday. “We are disappointed, embarrassed, whatever you want to call it, but no one is going to feel sorry for us,” UNT coach Tony Benford said. “The only way for us to get out of the cellar is to get to work tomorrow.” Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20140214-men-s-basketball-welcome-to-the-cellar.ece
  4. Chris Jones can remember the popping sound that came from his right foot as he dove after a loose ball on the floor at E.A. Diddle Arena more than a year ago. At the time, Jones thought he needed a new tape job. North Texas’ starting point guard found out later he needed a lot more than some tape. He needed time — nearly half a season’s worth — to recover after breaking a bone in his foot. And that was just for starters. Jones also needed time to overcome the depression he sunk into and rediscover the form he showed early in his career, when he emerged as one of UNT’s most valuable players. Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20140123-men-s-basketball-jones-finds-footing-again-in-unt-attack.ece
  5. Looks like the schedule downgrade may hit us as well. Brett has a story that he is updating linked here: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2014/01/unt-c-usa-officials-examining-unt-scheduling-issue.html/
  6. “We are really excited about the upcoming season,” Benford said. “I feel like the nonconference schedule we have prepared will have us ready for a demanding Conference USA season. Playing in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic will pit us against four tough teams starting with Oklahoma, and we will also make trips to BYU and Texas A&M. Looking around our league, our schedule is comparable to most of the teams in C-USA, and we feel it’s a schedule that our fans will really enjoy.” Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/sports-headlines/20130912-mens-basketball-unt-finalizes-2013-14-schedule.ece
  7. I stopped by UNT basketball practice today to pick up some material for the paper and the blog. The video at the top is one I shot with UNT men’s head coach Tony Benford and senior guard Alzee Williams. UNT’s win 61-41 over Texas A&M on New Year’s Eve kind of got lost in the euphoria of the Mean Green’s win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. That’s understandable. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2014/01/friday-afternoon-notes-unt-mens-hoops-video-recruiting-notes-et-cetera.html/
  8. Well, that didn’t go well. The UNT men were hoping to bounce back from a 30-point beating at BYU at home against SFA today, while the UNT women were looking to build on a win over rival UTA in a game at Northern Colorado. The UNT women fell 75-69, despite 27 points from Janis Peterson (we’ll get to that). The real zinger was that the UNT men were hammered by SFA 87-53. UNT has had some tough losses over the years, including during the high point of the Johnny Jones era, but this one just felt different. This was at home and it came at a time when faith in UNT’s hopes for a bounce back year seemed to be fading. Tony Benford called it the most embarrassing game he has ever been a part of. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/12/sunday-night-hoops-thoughts-benford-comments.html/
  9. North Texas guard Jordan Williams took note of what happened when Columbia took on national power Michigan State last week. So did teammate Brandan Walton and UNT head coach Tony Benford. And they weren’t the only ones. That was how well the Lions played against what is now the top-ranked team in the country. Columbia led by four at halftime and had a chance to pull off the upset before going scoreless for the final 4:27 as the Spartans pulled away for a 62-53 win. UNT will face plenty of challenges this week when it plays its final three games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but its first game — against the same Columbia team that gave the Spartans fits — could be the biggest challenge of them all. The Mean Green will face the Lions at 4 p.m. today before taking on Idaho on Friday and Portland on Saturday. All three games will be played at the University of Portland in Portland, Ore. “We saw Columbia play against Michigan State. They jumped out on them,” Williams said. “It was impressive. We know that we are going to have to play hard.” Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20131120-men-s-basketball-unt-looking-forward-to-portland-challenge.ece
  10. Carrington Ward, a 6-foot-2 guard who is playing this season at San Jacinto Junior College, committed to UNT on Sunday. Ward has been on UNT’s radar for quite a while. He spent last season at Palm Beach in Florida, where he averaged 14 points a game. He has since transferred to San Jacinto Junior College, where he is playing this season. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/11/its-official-carrington-ward-to-unt.html/
  11. It was a pretty big weekend for UNT in terms of recruiting. The Mean Green hosted JUCO guard Carrington Ward and SMU transfer Jalen Jones began considering what his next stop will be. Heres the situation at this point Jones sat down with his former AAU coach Erven Davis, of Dallas Showtyme, one of the premier programs in the country, and talked about where his next stop will be. Since Jones and SMU parted ways, more than 30 teams have expressed interest in the 6-foot-7 guard/forward. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/11/sunday-night-basketball-recruiting-notes.html/
  12. Aniefiok showed that he is another one of those types of players in his breakout performance against Nicholls State that included a key shooting run. UNT trailed by as many as eight and didn’t take its first lead until Aniefiok heated up in the closing moments before halftime. The Mean Green was down 28-20 when Aniefiok hit his first 3, sparking UNT. The sophomore hit three 3s in the final 6:08 of the first half, including one that gave UNT its first lead at 33-32. The Mean Green went 4-for-6 from behind the arc in first half and led 38-36 at the break. “I got on a bit of a run,” Aniefiok said. “I took it upon myself because I knew we needed to score. They left me open. I had to take them.” Those shots changed the game for UNT. “We were stagnant a little bit and Maurice opened it up for us,” Benford said. “He shot them with confidence. That is something he can do for us.” UNT believes Aniefiok is just one player on its roster this year who is capable of getting on a roll. The arsenal of shooters is one reason UNT believes it won’t experience the same shooting problems it experienced last season. The Mean Green will head off to Portland, Ore., next week shooting a respectable 39.1 percent from 3-point range after its win over Nicholls State, thanks largely to Aniefiok. “Maurice was solid, made big shots and rebounded the ball,” Benford said. “He’s a good player. He sat out all of last year and is trying to get into a groove and rhythm. He got into one for us tonight.” Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20131115-men-s-basketball-aniefiok-helps-unt-shoot-down-nicholls.ece
  13. We mentioned last night on the blog that there are some eligibility concerns with Greg Wesley. After asking around, here is the story. The freshman forward is awaiting word from the NCAA on whether or not he will be academically eligible this season. The NCAA has the case in its hands. There were some rumblings dating back to the summer about whether or not Wesley would qualify. Those questions are still lingering. Benford acknowledged them after UNT beat Southeastern Oklahoma State at home on Monday. Wesley has not played in either of UNTs exhibition games. Right now we are still dealing with some eligibility issues, Benford said. We are waiting to hear back from the NCAA. Read More: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/11/the-story-on-greg-wesley.html/
  14. We are just about finished up with Conference USA basketball media days here in Irving. UNT coaches Tony Benford and Mike Petersen were in the second session. I will add to this blog when I get back to the office, but here are a couple of quick tidbits: – The general feeling from Tony Benford is that UNT is ahead of where it was last year. UNT has more depth and a hunger that comes from experiencing a season in which nothing seemed to go right. read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/10/conference-usa-media-day-notes-video-coming-at-some-point.html/
  15. You know, I think we all wish last year could be erased from our fan memory banks. And I know that some on here hate Benford and blame him for last years debacle. And he most certainly does deserve much of the blame. That said, the man (and his staff) can still identify talent and recruit. And a good recruiter can turn things around a lot faster than a mediocre one. Just giving the man his due. GMG
  16. UNT landed what should be one of its foundation pieces for the next few years in Carter power forward Jeremy Combs this week, which raises the question: Whos next? The early signing period is coming up pretty quickly and a lot of players are hitting the road in the next few weeks for official visits. One of those players is UNT target Iakeem Alston of Sheridan (Wyo.) Community College Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/09/hoops-recruiting-tidbit-3.html/
  17. Jeremy Combs saw a lot of familiar faces when he visited North Texas multiple times over the last few months, including old rival Jordan Williams. The friendship Combs has with the Dallas-area players on UNT’s roster and the connection he developed with the Mean Green’s coaching staff led the Dallas Carter standout to commit to play for the Mean Green on Monday night. “I felt comfortable at North Texas,” said Combs, a 6-foot-7 forward. “It will be a good fit for me. I like the coaches and the players.” Combs is a highly sought-after prospect who led Texas Class 4A in scoring with an average of 23.2 points a game to go along with 7.7 rebounds last season. He recently visited Texas Tech and had scholarship offers from more than a half dozen other schools, including UT-Arlington, Colorado State and Houston. TexasHoops.com ranks Combs No. 15 on its list of the top 100 players in Texas in the class of 2014, which is loaded with players who are highly regarded on a national level. Four of the top 10 players in the Rivals national top 150 for the class of 2014 are from Texas. Oral commitments are non-binding. The first day of the early signing period is Nov. 13. Read more; http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20130923-notebook-unt-men-land-one-of-texas-top-players.ece
  18. I had a few minutes to swing by today and talk to Tony Benford about UNTs basketball schedule. First off, here are a few news tidbits: UNT will face Oklahoma on Monday, Nov. 11 instead of Tuesday, Nov. 12. UNT will also play Columbia on Nov. 21 and Idaho on Nov. 22. Again, minor switch. The dates for the two games in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament were changed. UNT is working on adding another home game this season. Creighton will play at the Super Pit next year. UNT is working on landing a spot in another tournament next season, one that will be close to Denton. UNT has been in talks with Texas Tech about scheduling a home-and-home with the Raiders. UNT has also been in contact with New Mexico. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/09/unt-basketball-notes-benford-on-schedule.html/
  19. The move to Conference USA brings in-state rivals to all UNT athletic programs, but the Mean Green basketball teams also made it an emphasis to schedule key local rivals in their non-conference schedule. Men’s Basketball For the first time ever, the men’s team will take part in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Tip-Off Showcase, a charity tournament that collaborates between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches to raise funds for cancer awareness. One of the teams UNT will take on is tournament host University of Oklahoma, who lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. UNT will also face off against the University of Idaho, the University of Columbia and the Universiy of Portland in a three-day span as part of the tournament. Other standouts in the nonconference schedule include away games against Brigham Young University and the Texas A&M University, as well as the home opener against Nicholls State University. “The non-conference schedule is going to be really difficult and it’s going to prepare us for the conference games,” senior guard Vertrail Vaughns said. “It’s going to get us ready for the long run.” One notable game missing from the schedule is the annual match up against metroplex rival University of Texas-Arlington. UNT bought out the final year of its contract with the Mavericks because of other conflicts within its schedule, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but may resume next year. The Mean Green held a 30-23 edge in the rivalry that dates back to when both teams were in the Southland Conference in the early ‘90s. Read more: http://ntdaily.com/2013-basketball-schedules-designed-to-be-challenging/
  20. When Tony Benford looked back on his first season at North Texas, he saw two areas where the Mean Green needed to improve — shooting and the ability of individual players to create for their teammates. Benford felt like he took one final step toward addressing both concerns on Tuesday when former Ole Miss guard Maurice Aniefiok enrolled at UNT and became the last addition to the Mean Green’s 2013-14 roster. The 6-foot-5 former Huntington (W.Va.) Prep standout spent one year with the Rebels in 2011-12 season, when he averaged 1.4 points a game. Aniefiok left Ole Miss and enrolled at Collin County Community College last season but did not play. He will have three years of eligibility remaining with UNT beginning this fall. Aniefiok completed his two-year degree at Collin County. “He’s a great addition,” Benford said. “We recruited him a little while I was at Marquette. He is a good all-around player who can play the one [point guard] through the four [power forward] because he has good size. He can really shoot the ball and create for himself and his teammates.” Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/07/maurice-aneifolk-enrolls.html/
  21. Brooks "Bubba" Jennings, who has served in various capacities under Bob Knight, Pat Knight and Billy Gillispie, will begin his 12th year as a part of Texas Tech basketball staff under head coach Chris Walker. Jennings was one of the most decorated players in Texas Tech history, winning the coveted Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation's most outstanding collegiate basketball player under six-feet tall following his senior season. He started every game he ever played in at Texas Tech (117). An honorable mention All-America and Academic All-America selection in 1985, Jennings led Texas Tech to the Southwest Conference championship en route to begin named SWC Player of the Year, SWC Athlete of the Year, and Texas Tech Basketball MVP. Drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, Bubba went on to play professional basketball in Europe for the London Docklands Crystal Palace. Upon graduation, Jennings truly left his mark on the Texas Tech record book. He left Texas Tech as the school's second all-time leading scorer and currently ranks ninth on the list. He led the Red Raiders in scoring as a sophomore, junior and senior, but also twice led the squad in assists and steals. He currently still ranks in the Top 10 in nine statistical categories at Texas Tech. After graduating with his degree in physical education in 1985, Bubba joined Coach Myers' staff as a graduate assistant before moving to New Mexico to begin his own high school coaching career. During his nine years at Artesia High School in Artesia, New Mexico, his teams garnered two state titles in basketball as well as a state championship in golf. Jennings continued his coaching career in Lubbock, where he led Coronado High School to back-to-back district and bi-district championships. He was also recognized for his coaching efforts as city coach of the year and District 3-5A Coach of the Year. Originally from Clovis, New Mexico, Jennings not only played on a New Mexico State Championship team (AAAA), but he was also selected to the Class 4A All-State Team in 1979 and was named New Mexico Basketball Player of the Year in 1980. Selected as a high school All-America and Academic All-America by the NHSCAA in 1980, Jennings set New Mexico state records for the most points in a game (75) and the most points in a season. He was inducted into the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame in 1980. Bubba's wife, Jackie, grew up in Arlington and is also a Texas Tech graduate. She recently established her own Lubbock business, "The Mud Room." Bubba and Jackie have three children, Cooper (23), Kadie (20), and Brooks III (15). read more: http://www.texastech.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/jennings_bubba00.html
  22. This is a repost but based on some comments and posts that I have seen I think some folks may have missed it the first time around. In any event - I think this gives you a good idea of the what happened last season and what direction he is wanting to take the program going forward. This is the entire unedited transcript from the Dallas Caravan stop at Royal Oaks Country Club:
  23. UNT has undergone some overhauls over the years in various programs. Outside of the years in which teams have changed head coaches, the evolution of the UNT men’s basketball team this off-season might take the cake. To review (deep breath): Players returning Jordan Williams — 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds a game, 46 3s Alzee Williams — 11.1 points, 3.4 rebounds a game Chris Jones — 9.2 points a game, 74 assists Keith Coleman — 1.3 points, 1.6 rebounds a game Brandan Walton — Missed last season, 8.8 points a game in 2011-12 season Additions Division I transfers Kelvin Gaines — Former Cincinnati forward is 6-10 and has high-end athletic talent Vertrail Vaughns — Averaged 5.0 last season at George Mason as a combo guard T.J. Taylor — Former Oklahoma signee who spent a short time at Marquette Maurice Aniefiok — Former Ole Miss signee who sat out last season JUCO transfers Armani Flannigan — Athletic 6-8 forward who averaged 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds a game at Central Wyoming State Colin Voss — A tank of a 6-7 forward who was a JUCO All-American last season at Northern Oklahoma. High school signees Greg Wesley — A 6-7 forward and one of the top players in the state and a steal for UNT Josh Friar — Freak 6-8 athlete who played sparingly in high school and could be a project type player Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/07/what-does-unts-roster-look-like-now-a-rundown.html/
  24. July 9, 2013 DENTON, Texas - North Texas head basketball coach Tony Benford has announced the signing of former ‘Ole Miss guard Maurice Aniefiok to a scholarship. The versatile guard will be eligible immediately, and will have three years to play for the Mean Green. “We couldn’t be more excited to have Maurice on board here at North Texas,” Benford said. “He is a really good all-round player who will bring experience to our team this year. Position-wise, we envision him playing anywhere from the point to power forward because of his ability to score the basketball, rebound and pass. Maurice is a quality addition to our Mean Green program.” Aniefiok saw 30 games of action for Ole Miss as a freshman and scored 43 total points (1.4 per game) on 25.8 percent shooting. He tallied a season-best 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point, against Marquette. He also Racked up seven points in 14 minutes against SEC Tournament champion Vanderbilt, and eight points in 16 minutes against SMU. The Lagos, Nigeria, native showed his range by hitting seven 3-pointers on the year for the Rebels. As a prep standout, Aniefiok averaged 13.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 41 percent from 3-point range at Huntington (W. Va.) Prep. He led Huntington to a 24-3 record and a national ranking as high as No. 14 by MaxPreps and 18th in the final Rivals.com rankings. He was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals, Scout and ESPN.com. North Texas Basketball 2013-14 Recruiting Class Maurice Aniefiok - 6-5, 205, So., G/F, Lagos, Nigeria (‘Ole Miss) Kelvin Gaines - 6-10, 227, Jr., C, Ocala, Fla. (Cincinnati) Vertrail Vaughns - 6-2, 184, Sr., G, Mesquite, Texas (George Mason) Colin Voss - 6-7, 240, Jr., F, Grand Rapids, Mich. (Northern Oklahoma) Armani Flannigan - 6-8, 200, Jr., F, Rockford, Ill. (Central Wyoming State) Josh Friar - 6-8, F, Houston, Texas (Kingwood HS) Greg Wesley - 6-7, F, Arlington, Texas (Seguin HS) Read more: http://www.meangreensports.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/070913aam.html
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