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  1. BIRMINGHAM, Ala — Tony Benford can sense a difference in North Texas’ men’s program heading into his third season. UNT’s players understand what he wants to accomplish and how he wants to go about getting there. The former Marquette assistant also has had a chance to go shopping when it comes to recruiting. Benford isn’t trying to fit the players he inherited into his system any longer. The Mean Green of 2014-15 are Benford’s third team and are essentially his own team. The roster is filled almost exclusively with players he recruited and schooled in his system. The question now is whether that mix of talent will help UNT mix it up successfully with the rest of Conference USA and reach the heights the program enjoyed a few years ago during a run of six straight winning seasons. The UNT women are in essentially the same spot heading into Mike Petersen’s third year. “It helps the deeper into your tenure you get,” Benford said. “Our culture is starting to form, and our guys are starting to understand how hard you’ve got to play and how accountable you have to be on and off the court.” Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20141016-basketball-unt-coaches-entering-key-season.ece
  2. Conference USA came out with its preseason all-league mens basketball team today in addition to releasing the top four teams in its coaches poll. C-USA has gone away from releasing full polls in the preseason at times the last couple of years. I was told that there was some concern among officials at various schools in the league that having their teams picked at the bottom doesnt do a whole lot for preseason excitement and ticket sales. Im not a big fan of that line of thought, but it is what it is. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2014/10/unt-shut-out-in-preseason-all-c-usa-mens-team-et-cetera.html/
  3. San Antonio Central Catholic power forward Tony Lewis started out with a list of 25 schools that offered him a scholarship. The 6-foot-9 power forward will head to Denton on Thursday with that list trimmed to about a half dozen and said on the eve of his trip that UNT is well positioned as he prepares for a series of official visits. Lewis will visit Weber State on the 19th and Santa Clara later this month following his visit to UNT. After those visits, Lewis plans to visit two schools out of a group that includes Kansas State, Creighton, New Mexico and Washington State. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2014/09/san-antonio-forward-tony-lewis-talks-visit-to-unt.html/
  4. DENTON North Texas head basketball coach Tony Benford has announced the signing of former Texas A&M standout and Bryan High School all-state guard J-Mychal Reese. Rated by ESPN.com as the states top point guard and the No. 7 point guard in the country coming out of Bryan in 2012, Reese, a 6-1, 173-pound guard, played 39 games for Texas A&M over the last two seasons and earned 25 starts. He poured in 6.3 points and dished out 1.8 assists per game while shooting 37.1 percent from three-point range in his freshman and sophomore seasons. "I've known J-Mychal and his family for a long time," Benford said. "I had a chance to work with him at a camp when he was in the eighth grade and was considered the top recruit in the country. I've known his parents for years, and J-Mychal comes from a great family. We couldn't be happier to have them all as a part of our Mean Green family." A three-time Texas Association of Basketball Coaches All-State selection, Reese was a consensus four-star prospect and top-100 national recruit. ESPN.com rated Reese as the sixth-best recruit overall in the state of Texas and 54th-best player overall in the entire class of 2012. He chose Texas A&M over scholarship offers from several schools, including Kansas, Louisville, Memphis, Baylor and Texas. "J-Mychal is a tremendous point guard," Benford added. "He's a very cerebral player and can create for anyone on the floor, but still has the ability to make his own shot when he needs to. Hes going to fit in really well in our up-tempo system." North Texas is expected to request the NCAA grant Reese a waiver to allow him to play this year. Reese had a solid freshman season for the Aggies that included action in all 33 games, averaging 26.2 minutes per contest. He ranked fifth on the squad with 6.2 points per game, and also tallied 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Reese scored a season-high 15 points on four occasions, and had a personal best six assists twice. In all, Reese posted 10 double-digit scoring games in his time in College Station. "First off, I want to thank everyone at Texas A&M for helping me over the last two years," Reese said. "I really enjoyed my time in College Station. But at the same time, I am really excited to begin the next phase of my career at North Texas. I feel like North Texas and coach Benford are ready to take the next step, and I cant wait to be a part of it." Reese joins a highly-regarded North Texas recruiting class that includes a pair of high school state scoring leaders in Louisianas Greg White-Pittman and Texas' Jeremy Combs, as well as Muhammed Ahmed, an NJCAA All-American, and Todd Eaglin, who ranked third in the NJCAA in assists last year. "Scott Monarch did an amazing job recruiting J-Mychal, who will add to our already tremendous recruiting class that we've brought in," Benford said. Read more: http://www.meangreensports.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/062614aaa.html
  5. It only seems appropriate on Selection Sunday that we continue our off-season questions series on UNT basketball with Part III — Can the UNT men recover lost momentum? It doesn’t seem all that long ago that UNT was sitting there on campus, waiting to see its name pop up on the NCAA tournament bracket. Here’s a blast-from-the past photo, the 2007 selection show party: Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2014/03/postseason-hoops-questions-part-iii-can-the-unt-men-recover-lost-momentum.html/
  6. 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/
  7. 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
  8. UAB shot just 30 percent and allowed North Texas to shoot nearly 50 percent in a 76-65 loss at North Texas on Thursday. The Blazers shot 22-of-72. North Texas was 29-of-59, including 8-of-16 from 3-point range. UAB hit 6-of-23 from long range and was a disappointing 15-of-28 from the free throw line. "The shooting stats in the second half were abysmal to say the least," UAB head coach Jerod Haase said on the UAB postgame radio show. "We couldn't throw it in the ocean and we couldn't get stops. That's a bad combination." Read more: http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2014/01/poor_shooting_leads_to_uabs_ro.html
  9. DENTON, Texas – For the first time in the Tony Benford era the North Texas basketball team will take the court with all of its scholarship players active and healthy, and they will need every one of them when one of Conference USA’s top squads comes to the Super Pit for the league opener on Thursday. It only took one minute into the 2012-13 season opener for the injury bug to bite the Mean Green. Brandan Walton broke his foot and missed the remainder of the year on one of NT’s first possessions. The injuries snowballed from there, and NT finished the season as the third most banged up team in the country with 82 games missed. Colin Voss is leading the charge to get the Mean Green healthy this season. The junior tore 10 inches worth of muscle in his quadriceps in early Oct., and is just now getting back to full strength. His resurgence in the paint, along with the arrival of Kelvin Gaines, has NT churning on all cylinders and on a four game win streak. Southern Miss, which advanced three rounds deep into last year’s NIT, is looking to repeat its stellar 2012-13 season. Southern Miss went 27-10 last year, and took Memphis to double overtime in the C-USA title game in Tulsa, Okla. The Golden Eagles are among the top defensive squads in the country. USM ranks 8th in the NCAA in total steals (139), and their 62.1 points allowed per game ranks 26th nationally. Read more: http://www.meangreensports.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/010814aaa.html
  10. UNT will open Conference USA play today at home against Southern Miss. I swung by practice yesterday and talked with coach Tony Benford and senior guard Brandan Walton about the game and league play in general. The video at the top contains the best of what they had to say. UNT is pinning its hopes on the fact the team is healthy and ready to go. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2014/01/video-benford-walton-discuss-c-usa-opener-hoops-notes.html/
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