March 21, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas – After his collegiate career ended less than an hour earlier, Karol Gruszecki looked over to his coach of the last two years and felt the need to apologize.
"I want to say that over the past five years since I came to the U.S., I've had many coaches and Coach Cross and the staff here have done a great job," Gruszecki said Wednesday night. "They are the reason the program is on the rise.
"I just want to thank them because they put me in position to be a winner. And know I have a chance to continue my career overseas, and I'm really happy. I want to apologize to Coach Cross because we let him down on our home court."
UT Arlington coach Scott Cross grinned, leaned over to Gruszecki and said: "You don't have to apologize to me. You played your butt off."
Cross is presiding over this new era in Maverick Basketball, which concluded another chapter with the loss to Oral Roberts at College Park Center in the first round of CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Cross has been at the helm of the program for seven years, compiling a record of 122-96. Of the top five seasons in UTA history, Cross has coached three of those teams, including the top two.
The Mavericks have gone to the postseason three times under his watch. UT Arlington had only one postseason trip in the 46 yards prior. He's the only men's basketball coach in school history with a winning record.
The bond forged by Gruszecki, along with the other three seniors (Jordan Reves, Kevin Butler and Cameron Catlett) who played their last game as Mavericks, is part of the base that's being built at UT Arlington. It's a foundation of success for a program reaching new heights.
"They've definitely taken the program from where it was to whole other level," Cross said. "These guys have given their heart and soul for the program."
State-of-the-art facilities, highlighted by College Park Center, illustrate the commitment from the University. The program has moved up the conference food chain, providing UT Arlington the opportunity to participate in higher-profile games and against more-challenging competition.
Asked how the program has grown, Reves answered: "Moving from Texas Hall to the CPC, moving conferences to play much better opponents. Last year we had a 24-win season, this year 19, so it's obviously moving up."
The Mavericks went 19-14 in 2012-13, which are the fifth most wins in one season in program history. Other notables from this season:
- Only two programs of Texas' 21 Division I programs own more wins than the Mavericks (43) over the last two seasons.
- The Mavericks were in back-to-back postseasons for the first time in school history.
- UT Arlington spent most of the season in the top 10 in the country in field-goal percentage defense, and went into the CIT in the top 20.
- Reves leaves as UTA' all-time leader shot blocker (168), while also setting the single-season record (71) this past season.
- After an 8-8 start, the Mavericks went 7-1 in their next eight games. UT Arlington finished fourth at 11-7 in its lone season in the WAC.
The Mavericks return plenty of talent in 2013-14, UT Arlington's first season in the Sun Belt Conference. Brandon Edwards, Shaquille White-Miller, Greg Gainey, Jamel Outler and Drew Charles played significant roles this season. A trio of redshirts – Reger Dowell, Stuart Lagerson and Vincent Dillard – join the fold along with a new recruiting class.
"I know that next year and the years after that," Reves said, "UTA is going to keep moving up."
MBB: Ogden signs Tyler JC point guard Brian Warren
Hamilton set to compete in Portsmouth Invitational
Ogden Named Eighth Men's Basketball Coach in UTA History
MBB: Hervey earns second straight Lou Henson honor
MBB: UTA makes coaching change
MBB: Hervey named first team NABC all-district