Nov. 13, 2015
UT Arlington (0-0) vs. Fordham (0-0)
Nov. 14 | 7:30 p.m. | College Park Center
By Art Garcia | @ArtGarcia92
ARLINGTON, Texas - The excitement of a season opener or Homecoming isn't lost on UT Arlington men's basketball coach Scott Cross. It's a special time of year and should be celebrated.
But cut through the hoopla and one thing is clear for Cross, there are hoops to be played.
"They're all the same for me, every single game," he said. "There's not much difference. The only two games that kind of stick out were the last game in Texas Hall and the first game when we opened [College Park Center]. Other than that, they're all pretty much the same. You have to treat them the same. If you treat them differently, it makes for a roller coaster ride."
The Mavericks begin 2015-16 on Saturday night at 7:30 against Fordham in Homecoming presented by Ben Hogan Sports Medicine. UTA is facing the Rams out if the Atlantic 10 for the first time in program history.
"We have a ton of respect for the Atlantic 10," Cross said. "You can look at the rankings and see they're one of the best conferences in the country, so we know they've played a high level of basketball. We have to be ready to go. It's more about us and being ready as a basketball team than worrying about them and what they do."
The Mavericks are beginning their 10th season since Cross took command of the program in 2006. UT Arlington traditionally gets off to a hot start under Cross, going 8-1 in both his season and home openers.
"We're extremely excited," Cross said. "It's a great opportunity for our guys. The guys have been waiting for a long time. The guys are tired of beating up on each other. We had a great Summer Tour, which was good and hopefully prepared us, but there's nothing like playing the real games. We're starting out with a big one."
UT Arlington is coming off a 16-15 injury-plagued season that saw the Mavericks lose key contributors Drew Charles and Johnny Hill during Sun Belt play. The Mavs are 74-55 over the last four years and 45-27 in conference. Both marks are the best four-year runs in school history.
UTA returns three letterwinners that started at least half of the games last season in junior forward Jorge Bilbao, junior guard Drew Charles and sophomore forward Kevin Hervey. Other returnees are sophomore guard Erick Neal, sophomore guard Kaelon Wilson, junior forward Brandon Williams, sophomore forward Julian Harris and senior guard Courtney Austin.
The Mavs welcome seven newcomers: senior forward Kennedy Eubanks, sophomore guard Nathan Hawkins, junior guard Jalen Jones, freshman forward Scott Muirhead, junior guard Mairega Clarke, freshman forward Nick Pallas and junior forward Faith Pope.
Cross likes the makeup of the 2015-16 Mavs.
"These guys have worked extremely hard," he said. "We started back in the summer as we were preparing to go on our foreign tour to the Bahamas. It was very productive for us. This team really passes the basketball well. We've got great team chemistry so far. They're very skilled and they can shoot the basketball."
Cross has lined up another challenging non-conference schedule with games at Ohio State, Texas, Memphis, UTEP and Louisiana Tech. Seven conferences are represented, while four teams won at least 20 and reached the postseason.
"I'm ready to play Ohio State and Memphis," Hervey said. "I'm ready to play the first game against Fordham. It doesn't matter who play, it's mostly about us and how well we can play defensively and offensively. Any team we play, I'm ready and I know our team is going to be ready."
It all begins with Fordham.
"It's the best time of the year other than Christmas," Charles said. "We're all ready and it's going to be a packed house here when we play Fordham, so I'm beyond words. It's going to be ecstatic and we're all ready to go."
Single game, season tickets or All Sport Passes are available at UTATickets.com or by contacting the College Park Center Box Office at (817) 272-9595.
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