Behind The Scenes: C-USA Basketball Tip-Off In Birmingham
Get The Scoop On Tony Benford And The Mean Green At C-USA's Annual Media Day
BIRMINGHAM, AL – Conference USA hosted the league’s head coaches and media from across the country on Wednesday for the annual C-USA Basketball Tip-Off.
Head coach Tony Benford fielded dozens of interviews and below are some of the highlights from the day in Birmingham, Ala., which will play host to the 2014-15 C-USA Tournament in March.
C-USA Tip-Off Quick Hits
• Benford announced that Saturday’s practice will be open to Mean Green fans, and encouraged folks to swing by the Super Pit while they tailgate for the football game against Southern Miss. The practice will run from 11-1.
• Benford was asked by the American Sports Network crew what is his favorite restaurant to swing by on a C-USA road trip? His reply – Avila’s Mexican Restaurant in El Paso. You can’t miss their signature gooey green chili queso.
• The national hoops preview magazines on average have tabbed North Texas to finish ninth of the 14 teams in C-USA this season. Lindy’s and Sporting News have NT finishing ninth, while Blue Ribbon sees the Mean Green finishing eighth. Athlon slotted NT 11th in C-USA. Louisiana Tech and UTEP are heavy favorites to win the league.
• After two weeks of practices, Benford is impressed by his team’s ability to knock down shots, especially from his forwards. Muhammed Ahmed has shown himself to be a capable shooter, and a mismatch on the wings. Benford believes Ahmed can be a matchup problem for many C-USA opponents.
• The C-USA Digital Network tested the coaches to see how hip they are, and it looks like Benford might have come up short. When asked if he knew what the word “Y.O.L.O.” meant, Benford could only chuckle and throw out a guess. Watch the above video for the hilarious outtake.
• On his team’s perceived lack of height in the paint Benford said, “I am not worried about it, to be honest. Our philosophy is that we rebound and defend the paint by committee. It’s not any one player’s job to get rebounds at North Texas. It’s everyone’s job to rebound. Plus, we focused this offseason on modeling our squad’s makeup to the types of teams we see excelling in C-USA, and we’re happy with where we’re at.”
• NT’s old Sun Belt rival, Western Kentucky, joined C-USA for the 2014-15 season, and the Mean Green will be making their return to historic E.A. Diddle Arena this winter. “We didn’t have many great memories on our last trip to Western, but we are excited to have a program with such a great basketball tradition in the league. Our two programs have played a lot of big games against each other over the years, and I look forward to getting that rivalry renewed for our fans.”
• T.J. Taylor underwent an arthroscopic knee procedure last month, and Benford reported that his recovery was on track to return for the Nov. 10 exhibition game against Oklahoma City.
“T.J. gives us another experienced guy on the court, and he’s a player that everyone knows is very explosive. He’s been in our system for a few years now, and I expect him to make a full recovery and have a great senior season.”
• Texas A&M transfer J-Mychal Reese is practicing with the Mean Green, and has been impressive running the point. North Texas has filed a waiver on his behalf with the NCAA that would make him immediately eligible if approved.