Just a few hours after being introduced as North Texas’ new men’s basketball head coach, Grant McCasland sat down with members of the media one-on-one.
Sporting his new Mean Green colors and a smile on his face, he discussed the future of the program he is inheriting.
On interest in the North Texas job.
“Growing up in this area and in this state, North Texas was one university that had basketball success,” McCasland said. “I played tournaments at the Super Pit and watched several recruiting events at the Super Pit. I watched college games there. My knowledge was more of a fan. But you look at jobs down the road that fit something you would be interested in, I thought it would be a cool opportunity to coach basketball [at North Texas]. I never thought it would be a reality.”
On his Texas roots.
“This is home,” McCasland said. “This area is. There’s not a lot of opportunities to be a head coach and be this close to family. All of my immediate family is within an hour from here. That’s awesome. It’s unreal. My whole family was here today. That’s as good as it gets. That’s the way we want our program to be modeled after. People that love each other unconditionally but hold each other accountable and tell the truth. That atmosphere is what’s vital to being a successful basketball program.”
On Wren Baker and President Neal Smatresk’s leadership
“Ultimately it’s people who make the biggest difference,” McCasland said. “I think the leadership right now is as good as it gets for a basketball coach. It’s a unique opportunity to work for Smatresk, Baker and Jared Mosely. I’ve known Wren for a little while, but not really personally. He’s been at some great basketball institutions and he knows what it means to be successful. Smatresk, he knows basketball. He’s seen great basketball and we’ve had some great conversations as to what he envisions the program can be. He gave great insight and made me believe he knows what it takes to have a great basketball program.”
On his style of basketball.
“The biggest thing is how we’re going to play defensively,” McCasland said. “We were No. 2 in the Sun Belt defensively last season. We need to take great shots but play with a lot of pace. Defensively, trying to be solid on that end is what’s going to win us games so we can go in transition. Sharing the basketball is going to be a big deal.”
On his coaching staff.
“I’m one of those guys that’s loyal to people I’ve worked with,” McCasland said. “They have first priority in regards of coming with us if that’s what they choose to do. Fortunately, all of them have expressed interest. There’s some HR things that we have to do to make that a reality. They’re having other head coaching opportunities too…if they get a head coaching opportunity that would be the only way I see us moving in a different direction. I have a ton of respect for Coach [Tony] Benford and his staff. I personally know all of them, but as of right now I’m going to concentrate on the guys I’ve worked with.”
On the similarities between Arkansas State and North Texas
“I think North Texas had more recent success in the NCAA tournament,” McCasland said. “It’s very similar in some regards. Instilling a winning mindset in the current players is where I see the most similarities between the two.”
On freshman guards Ryan Woolridge and A.J. Lawson.
“The number one priority will be our players and investing in them,” McCasland said. “I want them to know they are loved and will be served, but will be held to a higher standard. We have a couple of freshman who have had extended playing time. You talk about two dynamic guards, that’s them. I’ve watched them both in summer basketball, anytime you have success in college basketball you have to have great guards. The guard play of those two are exciting.”
On his message to frustrated fans.
“You need to buy your tickets,” McCasland said. “You need to make trips early to the Super Pit so you can understand what you want to be a part of. We were lucky to take a team [Arkansas State] that averaged about 1,800 people over the last two seasons and average 4,000 a game last year. I would tell them there’s a history and we’ve been able to improve a team quickly. Come out and watch us quick. Guys will be fun to watch. They’ll play hard and play for each other. I know people appreciate basketball around here.”
Featured image: North Texas head coach Grant McCasland Colin Mitchell