Sept. 29, 2017
ARLINGTON, Texas -- As perfect as the cool temperatures and overcast skies were for the UTA men's basketball team's conditioning session yesterday at Maverick Stadium, today was just the opposite as rain forced the team indoors for its penultimate day of Boot Camp.
The team was scheduled to conduct its annual sand bag competition on the ramps leading into Maverick Stadium, but the concrete surface was deemed unsafe by the coaching staff. So, head coach Scott Cross made a decision to remain indoors and adjust the session accordingly.
The Mavericks still carried the 50-pound sandbags while conducting a series of timed sprints. But, instead of the stadium ramps, they raced down and back the length of the two basketball courts in the gym at UTA's Physical Education Building.
"We want to provide challenges that make our guys tougher, but it doesn't make sense to risk injury," said UTA head coach Scott Cross, the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. "That doesn't help us win games. The guys didn't have the stadium ramp to contend with, so we adjusted the drill to increase the frequency of carrying the bags to compensate.
"We are making progress. Tomorrow is the final day of boot camp, which will have been an extremely hard five days of conditioning. The guys are doing well. I've seen improvements across the board. I've seen leadership emerge. We are seeing competitiveness increase. I really like what we've seen and where we are right now."
One of the players Cross complimented after today's training session was junior college transfer Davion Turner. The Cedar Hill native played two seasons at Hill College before transferring to UTA in June, following a similar path and showing many of the same characteristics as last season's senior guard Jalen Jones.
"Davion is a guy that embodies selflessness," said Cross. "He is a guy that consistently takes charges in practice, challenges on both end of the court and enthusiastically supports his teammates. Those traits embody the core values we are trying to teach - selflessness, competitiveness, ownership, communication.
"We like what they are teaching at Hill College. The guys we have had come from their program are well coached, work hard, take charges and have great attitudes. Davion shows those traits every day and he fits into our program perfectly."
Turner, a 2015 graduate of Cedar Hill High School, played his freshman season at Eastern Oklahoma State before transferring to Hill College for his sophomore season. He was an all-conference and all-region performer after averaging 12.9 points and 7.3 rebound per game.
"I feel like what I bring to the table is that I can show the other players how hard I can work and compete every day," said Turner, who goes by the nickname "Sticks" due to his 185-pound frame. "In high school, I wasn't the number one guy so I had to work a little harder than the other guys. We worked hard at Hill on defense and I led the team in taking charges. It is just something that is a big part of my game - playing defense, getting turnovers."
Like the rest of the Mavericks, Turner has bought into Cross' "Take The Stairs" mentality that stresses mental and physical toughness as keys to competitive success on and off the court.
"The term `boot camp' explains it all," said Turner. "You have to work hard and everyone expects a lot out of each other. You just have to come ready to work. Boot Camp is tough. But, once you get through it, you are definitely better for doing it."
UTA opens the season on Saturday, Nov. 11 with a 7 p.m. homecoming contest against Loyola Marymount prior to a 7-day stretch in which it plays four road and/or neutral site contests that are part of the Barclays Center Classic. The Mavericks play a total of 31 games prior to the March 7-11 Sun Belt Conference Championships in New Orleans.
The team's 15-game home schedule includes non-league games against Cal Poly, Florida Gulf Coast University, LMU, North Texas, Rice and UT Dallas. The Mavericks open Sun Belt play on Dec. 29 at Coastal Carolina before returning to Arlington for their league home opener against Troy on Jan. 4. Senior Day is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 24 against Georgia State.
For ticket information, click here or call the UTA Box Office at (817) 272-9595. Season tickets are currently on sale. Single game tickets go on sale Oct. 6.
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