Hype building for UTA basketball tipoff

Nov. 3, 2017

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The Homecoming banners are being raised around College Park Center, festivities are getting finalized and the energy is building around the Metroplex. The hype around the UTA Basketball program has never been higher with both teams earning the nod as Sun Belt favorites entering the 2017-18 season, which tips on Saturday, Nov. 11 with a doubleheader during UTA's Homecoming weekend.

The Mavs and Lady Mavs swept the preseason awards for a second consecutive season. Both teams were picked as favorites to win the league, while seniors Kevin Hervey and Rebekah VanDijk each earned Preseason Player of the Year honors in consecutive seasons. Both teams are also earning national attention with hervey joining Erick Neal as Mid-Major All-American honors and the Lady Mavs receiving votes in the USA Today Preseason Coaches' Poll. The list can go on and on about these teams, but one thing is for sure, they are teams that you won't want to miss watching on the court this year.

"It is probably the first time in the history of the program that it has happened, I can't remember a time that both teams have been selected as the favorites and had the player of the year," UTA men's basketball coach Scott Cross said. "It definitely shows that both programs are on the rise and it also speaks for my staff and what a great job they have done in recruiting as well as coach Gerlich's staff in recruiting and the type of talent on both teams. Having such a fabulous facility as College Park Center helps with that tremendously."



There is still a buzz echoing through College Park Center from UTA men's team's final two home games last season. That buzz was amplified throughout both programs into the offseason to provide even more energy for 2017-18. The men set a program record with 27 wins and a Sun Belt regular season crown, while the women's 22 wins tied for third in program history, earning a trip into the Women's NIT.

"What an exciting time to be a Maverick," women's coach Krista Gerlich said. "I think the fact that both teams are co close, we support each other and celebrate each other's successes, that it is no accident that both teams are contenders for the league's championship. Winning is contagious and both teams are catching the fever. Our administration has made a commitment to do everything possible to give us the opportunity to win games and lots of them. It is going to be a really special year of Maverick basketball."

The University's commitment to improving the athletic program can be seen throughout the entire campus between renovations and construction. The College Park Center project, which opened in Frebruary of 2012, was the piece that began the process and has since given the program a crown jewel that stacks up against the best as one of the nation's top facilities.

"It has been a game changer," Cross said. "It has helped us in every area. You can look at our academics and our GPA and it has risen since we have been in the facility. The practice facilities have helped out tremendously and allow us to get in the gym at any hour of the day and it helps develops them as players. You can go to the video room and the ease and access to break down film. Having the weight room, you can't help but get stronger. It makes it a lot easier to watch film, lift weights, go to practice, hit the academic center and work on your game on your own."

With the rising expectations and top-notch facilities, putting UTA on the national stage has not been a problem when it comes to scheduling both home and away. The men's team has picked off national powers such as Ohio State, Saint Mary's (CA), Memphis and Texas in recent years and has big names on the slate with away matchups at nationally ranked Alabama and a visit to Creighton. One of the best mid-major matchups of the season features Florida Gulf Coast at CPC on Dec. 9.

The Lady Mavericks have an equally impressive schedule at home against American Athletic Conference opponents SMU and Houston, while visiting four Power 5 teams this season in Utah, Kansas State, Arkansas and Georgia Tech.

"Both programs are doing their part in putting an exciting and successful product on the floor and we want our community, student body, faculty and fans to come out and support us," Gerlich said. "We have a beautiful facility, winning teams, and now we need the largest and loudest fan base in the country. Everyone likes to cheer on a winner, UTA has two of them and we need their support."

For a testament of how the crowd becomes UTA's sixth man, look no further than the feverish excitement that was created when the men's team played Akron and CSU Bakersfield during the run of NIT games last march at CPC.

"If we can do that for our men and women, it is a huge advantage," said Cross. "If we can establish that and the students and community comes out, both programs can have outstanding years. We can just build upon it and grow the attendance. They are the sixth man for us, when it's loud in there it is a huge home court advantage for us. We want to establish that, and make teams intimidated when they walk in to College Park Center."

Full season and single game tickets to attend UTA men and women's basketball events are on sale through the UTA Box Office in person or by calling (817) 272-8585 and online throughUTATickets.com. Season tickets are available for as low as $99 for all 30 men and women's games, which comes out to $3.30 per game. Single game tickets are priced at $8, $12 and $25 per game, depending on seat location. UTA students and faculty staff tickets are available for just $5 for a single game or at a reduced rate for season tickets. Discount Maverick Club (season) and general public (single game) parking is also available. Visit UTATickets.com for detailed information.

For up-to-date news, photos, videos and updates you can follow UTA sports program online at UTAMavs.com or via any of several social media accounts on Twitter @UTAMavs, Instagram @UTAMavs, Snapchat @UTAMavs and Facebook at UTArlingtonAthletics.


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