Nov. 7, 2012
By Michael Eldridge | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas - The 2011-12 men's basketball campaign was a banner season for the UT Arlington. A Southland Conference regular-season championship culminated into an appearance in the National Invitational Tournament.
But that's all in the past now as the Mavericks hit the court to open their 2012-13 campaign Friday night (Nov. 9, 8 p.m.) at CSU Bakersfield. The game will be broadcast on Soul 730 AM.
Eight familiar faces are joined by seven newcomers this season, the first for UT Arlington in the Western Athletic Conference. On-court leadership returns behind junior guard Shaquille White-Miller. White-Miller was the backbone of UTA's 15-1 conference record last season and led the team in assists with 123.
"Shaq is the first guy we look to for leadership," UT Arlington coach Scott Cross said. "He started at point guard for us last year. He has the respect of the guys and the mentality that the coaching staff has and brings the energy and defensive toughness."
Cross preached to toughness during the off-season for the Mavericks. That toughness comes with doing all the little things this season.
"Diving on the floor, playing great defense and an overall intensity is what we bring," he said.
Challenges come quick and often for these Mavericks. After traveling to CSU Bakersfield, UT Arlington opens its home campaign with a tough test against Big 12 opponent Oklahoma on Friday Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. The Sooners will be the first active Big 12 member to play at College Park Center.
Toughness for the early tests can be found in senior leadership provided by forwards Kevin Butler, a pre-season second-team all-WAC pick, and Jordan Reves. The pair led all returning players in scoring, rebounding, free throw attempts, and Reves led the team in blocks with nearly half of the team's total.
Following the game against the Sooners, UT Arlington hits the road for four with games at Samford, North Texas, Texas and UT Pan American before hosting Houston Baptist on Dec. 13. The final nonconference game before opening up WAC play for the Mavericks is at Oklahoma State on Dec. 19.
WAC Play Begins
It is home sweet home for the Mavericks when it opens conference play. UT Arlington hosts its first three conference games against New Mexico State, Denver and Louisiana Tech. Cross said that while it's a welcome to open conference play at home, it is a challenge that the team is looking forward to.
"It's definitely a big challenge for us," Cross said. "Anybody can look at the conference RPI and see that the WAC traditionally has been very high. We know we have a great challenge ahead of us."
While it's a new conference, the opponents are familiar foes for the Mavericks, according to Cross.
"We played Utah State last year and got to experience that atmosphere and home-court advantage that they have," Cross said. "We've played New Mexico State in years past and Denver, too. Every team is capable of beating us on any given night but at the same time we feel like that if we play our best basketball that we can go in there and beat anybody as well."
Returning Mavs ready challenges in the WAC
Behind White-Miller, Butler and Reves, UT Arlington features an experienced tandem of players that are prepared to compete at the level of WAC basketball.
Senior guard Cameron Catlett played in all of the Mavericks 33 games last season making two starts. Catlett was second on the team in steals (48) and averaged 5.5 PPG. Junior center Stuart Lagerson provided key play in big moments and had 17 blocks to go along with 36 rebounds in the 2011-12 season.
Junior forward Brandon Edwards also played in all 33 games last year averaging 4.3 points and had 144 rebounds, including 95 on the defensive boards.
Pre-season polls show the tough road ahead
The true showing of the challenge ahead for the Mavericks comes from the 2012-13 Men's Preseason Polls. Following last year's 15-1 SLC play and regular-season championship, this team is picked to finish fifth and sixth, respectively, in the coaches and media polls.
In the WAC Preseason Coaches' poll, UTA was tabbed to finish fifth in the WAC behind first place choice New Mexico State, who received five first place votes, and second-place Utah State, which also received five first place votes. Rounding out the rest of the top-5 are Denver, Louisiana Tech and UT Arlington.
In the WAC Media Poll, the Mavericks are picked to finish sixth behind Utah State, New Mexico State, Denver, Louisiana Tech and Idaho. However, the Mavericks picked up one of the first place votes and finished with 137 points in the poll.
For more information regarding UT Arlington season tickets for the upcoming men's and women's basketball season log onto UTAMavs.comor call 817-272-6319. Men's Season tickets start as low as $66 and include all 14 home games. Women's season tickets are $49 and include all 14 home games.
UTA students don't forget to log onto your MyMav account to purchase your All-Sports Pass for $50 this gives you entry into all home UTA Athletic events. For more information call 817-272-6319.
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