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Basketball Updates

In case you have been spending time golfing thinking very hard about the future of your family and business, meeting with the very best people and so on, let me catch you up on some things.

North Texas men’s basketball officially parted ways with Tony Benford. What is news is not that it happened — it was a long time coming — but in the manner it did. Athletic Director Wren Baker has been sending email to the Mean Green Club members before releasing the press notes. This is a nice touch. What is more is that he is not simply rehashing the points made in the release. If anything, it is a sign of a difference in tone.

Things are mighty different than they were under Ricky V, Sushi Baron.

March 5th:

We will move expeditiously to find new leadership for your men’s basketball program.

March 13th:

I am writing today to inform you that we have found the next head coach for your Mean Green men’s basketball program. It is with great excitement that I announce that Coach Grant McCasland will be the 18th Head Men’s Basketball Coach in our history. As you are a loyal supporter of the program, I wanted to share this information with you first.

Women’s Basketball

While the men’s program was sorting itself out, the women’s team fell in the conference quarterfinals to WKU 78-51. Jalie Mitchell ends her second season at 12-19 (8-10) after finishing her first 11-19 (5-13). She is two wins ahead of Shanice Stephen’s two year pace (20 wins), even with Mike Peterson (23) after two years. Karen Aston famously has the best record of the last decade at NT, when she finished 15-16 before leaving (with Jalie Mitchell) to Texas.

The conference records have improved, but NT is still a bit off the conference pace but Mitchell looks like she has a handle on things.

Grant McCasland

Monday North Texas hired former Arkansas State Head Coach Grant McCasland. He had coached only one year in Jonesboro, taking the Red Wolves to a 20-win season. His buyout of a half-million will be paid and Wren said this:

“If you want a sitting [NCAA] Division I coach, there is going to be a buyout,” Baker said. “We are prepared to do what we need to do there. The biggest cost is not having a winning program.”

That is good stuff. The key factors here:

  • He is from Irving, has family here including a father needing care
  • He is close with Wren Baker
  • He has won, been part of programs that have won. Career record of 219-56
  • He is getting something like 600K base salary to coach here.

Arkansas State has become the nation’s internship program, losing three football coaches from 2011-2013 after just one year. I am chuckling out loud. For what it is worth, McCasland’s old boss tried to save face.

Do you feel something aking to hope now? I cannot tell you what is required to produce winning basketball programs, but Tony Benford did not have it. Grant McCasland seems like he does.

The talent on the roster — Woolridge, Lawson, maybe Combs? — is decent, but I have no idea if McCasland sees it the same way. For what it is worth, we should mention that the 20-win Red Wolves were dropped in OT by the ULM Warhawks in the Sun Belt tournament. The other guy we were eyeing — UTA’s Scott Cross was bounced by Texas State. This is a funny game.

Edit: This previously had a typo where I referred to UTA’s coach as Ray Harper instead of Scott Cross. My bad. Thanks for the catch!

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