Mavericks set to begin final season in SLC after dominating five-game swing through Canada
The men’s basketball team breezed through its summer exhibition tour of Canada, winning all five games by an average of nearly 50 points and each game by at least 44. Now the Mavericks turn their attention to winning a league championship in their final season before they leave the Southland Conference for the Western Athletic Conference.
The performance of first-year players Kevin Butler and Jorge Redmon was particularly encouraging for sixth-year coach Scott Cross. Butler, a transfer from TCU, averaged 15.7 points and 7.7 rebounds on the Canada swing while playing fewer than 20 minutes per game. Redmon, a junior college transfer, scored 13 points per game while shooting 61 percent from the field, including 63 percent on three-pointers.
Perhaps more important, Cross saw significant improvement in the play of point guards Redmon, Shaquille White-Miller, and Cameron Catlett.
“It seems like our assist-to-turnover ratio woes from last year have been rectified,” Cross says. “A big part of that is having three point guards who are all playing significant minutes, and playing two of them at a time really helps in that area.”
Ironically, the upgraded point guard play came as the Mavericks emphasized an up-tempo style to increase fast breaks and apply pressure to the Canadian teams’ defenses. Cross expects to carry that style into the regular season.
The point guards weren’t alone in benefiting from the faster tempo. Cross half-joked that LaMarcus Reed III had more fast-break opportunities in five games than he did the entire 2010-11 season. Reed, a senior, finished as the team’s leading scorer with 17.2 points per game while also averaging 5.6 rebounds. On defense, the Mavericks used a suffocating man-to-man to hold three of their five opponents to 60 or fewer points.
UT Arlington begins its home schedule Nov. 14 in Texas Hall against East Texas Baptist and finishes Feb. 29 against Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the new College Park Center.