STATE OF THE MAVERICK
Feb. 1, 2008
ARLINGTON, Texas - - Welcome to what I hope will be a long standing feature of our UT Arlington Athletics Web site, a monthly synopsis of current affairs and issues within our intercollegiate athletics program from my perspective which I believe you will find of interest as a supporter of our program and our student-athletes.
As I draft this inaugural column, our women's basketball team leads the Southland Conference West Division, and our men's team is very much in the race for a conference title. Our men's team got off to a great 8-0 start in non-conference games and to date has only five losses (four of those are by four points or less with two in overtime).
A little more successful free throw shooting could have been the difference in these games, so I have been kidding the men's staff about who the free throw coach is among them!!
Actually, I could not be more proud of the leadership and coaching of our second year head coach, Scott Cross, and the work of his young staff. We have already exceeded the win total of last year (14-5) and could well be on our way to a league title and the institution's first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They have a difficult task ahead of them with the tough Western Division of the league and conference opponents which have elevated the play for the Southland Conference to the best that has been observed in years.
The women's team also started fast out of the gate in conference play and sits atop the Western Division of the SLC with at 6-1 record. Our new head coach, Samantha Morrow, is doing a wonderful job in implementing her coaching style and system and the ladies are responding and enjoying success. The team is led by senior post Tiffeny Riles and senior guard Maryann Abanobi.
In critical games, the team has been sparked off the bench by junior post Candice Champion and sophomore guard Meghan Nelson. And, freshmen Shalyn Martin and Tamara Simmons have been playing like veterans.
The primary focus of this first column should be the outstanding academic performance of our student-athletes during the past year and especially, for the fall semester. For the fall semester 2007, ninety student-athletes or 47.8 percent of all student-athletes achieved honor roll status with at least a 3.00 grade point average or higher, 53.4 percent of our female student-athletes achieved honor roll status.
The women's volleyball team led the way with 13 of 15 team members making the honor roll and the team had an average Fall gpa of 3.459. Other teams with team grade point averages over 3.00 were baseball with a 3.153 and women's softball with a 3.135.
UT Arlington also submitted information to the NCAA for our annual NCAA Academic Progress Rate scores for each team. For the 2006-07 academic year, the following teams achieved impressive scores: Men's Golf - 980, Men's Basketball - 977, Women's Tennis - 964, Women's Volleyball - 963, Men's Outdoor Track and Field - 952, Men's Cross Country - 949 and Women's Softball - 947. These scores are based on retention and continuing academic eligibility.
The spring sports will be in full gear in less than a month.
The men's and women's track and field teams have already begun their indoor competition season. Both teams participated in the Texas Tech Invitational and the Wes Kittley Invitational in Lubbock earlier this month and achieved several fine marks. Both teams will be looking to compete for their respective Southland Conference Indoor Championship next month in Houston, Texas on February 22-23.
The men's golf team had a very successful fall season and will be looking to further improve their scores with a demanding schedule this spring starting with the Rio Pinar Invitational in Orlando, Florida on February 25-26. The men's golf team was featured in last week's edition of "Golf Week" magazine where they were identified as a team to watch when the NCAA tournament rolls around later in the spring.
The team currently has a top 40 in the nation ranking and had the best winning percentage in head-to-head competition for the year in Division I going into the spring portion of the season.
The men's and women's tennis teams begin their spring seasons this week and head coach, Diego Benitez, looks for his young teams to be very competitive in league play. The baseball program is now led by, Darin Thomas, who was elevated to the head coach position last November after the resignation of Jeff Curtis. If the baseball team can match their accomplishments in the classroom last fall semester with their efforts on the baseball field this spring, it is going to be a great season.
The team opens their season on February 22 hosting our UT Arlington Invitational Tournament at Clay Gould Ballpark. The women's softball is already working fast and furious in practice in preparation for their season opening games in Miami, Florida at the Florida International Tournament on February 8-10.
The team was recently picked second in the Southland Conference Pre-Season polls, but received many first place votes. The team will be led by seven seniors including last year's Southland Conference "Player of the Year" Katie Jones and All-SLC Pitcher Laura Jones.
As you can see, it is an exciting time around UT Arlington Athletics!! I hope you will catch as much of the action as possible by attending our home athletics events and cheering on our very deserving student-athletes. I would welcome your questions and comments and look forward to responding to your thoughts and concerns. Look for my column on the first of every month, and I look forward to seeing you at Maverick events this spring!!