Men’s basketball media day: Time to win is now for head coach Tony Benford and Mean Green

Men’s basketball media day: Time to win is now for head coach Tony Benford and Mean Green

Men’s basketball media day: Time to win is now for head coach Tony Benford and Mean Green
October 26
16:29 2016

In the final year of his contract at North Texas, men’s basketball head coach Tony Benford knows what he has to do to stick around – win.

Benford has not posted a winning record since arriving in Denton in 2012, but he thinks he has the team to end that streak this season.

Even with an all-time mark of 54-73 looming over his expiring contract, Benford remains focused on his players.

“It’s not about me, it’s about this team,” Benford said. “Yeah, I think [I have to have a successful season to return.] Obviously we need to win.”

Benford added six fresh faces to his roster and a new assistant coach in Dan O’Dowd for the upcoming campaign. Benford was able to pick-up graduate forward Derail Green, junior forwards Bryce Jackson and Shane Temara, freshman guards Ryan Woolridge and AJ Lawson, and senior guard Keith Frazier.

Woolridge’s eligibility is in question as he is a transfer, but a waiver has been submitted to the NCAA to possibly have him eligible at the beginning of the season.

Frazier is the headliner of the new crop of players, as he is the only McDonalds All-American to ever play at North Texas. Frazier transferred from Southern Methodist University in February and will become eligible in mid-December.

Frazier is recovering from knee surgery, which he had about eight months ago. Despite setbacks, Benford is confident he will be a key contributor.

“Keith is doing well,” Benford said. “He’s working hard, but he’s got to be more consistent. We’ve talked to him about being an everyday guy and that’s been his challenge. If he’s an everyday guy, he has a chance to be really really good.”

Junior forward Jeremy Combs noted a change in the intensity surrounding him and his teammates from last year. Benford believes the change in maturity from his young squad has pushed them to be better. Alongside Combs, sophomore center Rickey Brice Jr. will be expected to see an expanded role, especially after the 7-footer dropped 30 pounds in the offseason.

Combs was named to the preseason All-Conference-USA team after averaging a double-double last season. All eyes may be on him, but he is not fazed.

“I don’t feel pressure,” Combs said.

Benford is excited to tap into the depth he believes his team boasts. In the 17 practices North Texas has participated in, he is impressed with the competitiveness many of the players are exhibiting. The competitiveness is what attracted Green to North Texas, and he said this could be the second most talented squad he’s ever been on.

Green was on a Wichita State team that made it the Final Four and is expected to fill the void of forward Eric Katenda, who averaged 6.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last year. He is now playing professionally with Le Portel in France.

“We’re very talented in my opinion,” Green said. “I think we have a great chance of winning the conference, making it to the tournament and making some noise. I plan on winning.”

The North Texas season tips off at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11 at home against Sull Ross State University, and the entire team is eager to get back on the court.

“Our guys have been working extremely hard,” Benford said. “I’ve been really pleased with our progress so far. We are very deep at every position, and we are very excited by that.”

Featured Image: North Texas men’s basketball head coach Tony Benford responds to questions at media day. Benford is entering the last year of his contract this season. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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