Five (+1) Takeaways from Coach Pete on C-USA Media Day
Petersen Covers Topics from Team Health to Late-Game Execution
BIRMINGHAM, AL — For the second straight year, head coach Mike Petersen represented North Texas women’s basketball at Conference USA Media Day. While the event was held right down I-35 in Dallas for the 2013-14 season, this time around the destination was Birmingham.
The morning of October 15, Petersen flew into the largest city in Alabama to join his fellow conference coaches for a day filled with one-on-one media interviews and television and digital media spots, as well as mingling amongst colleagues. The day culminated with a soiree at Regions Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox’ Double-A affiliate Birmingham Barons.
Through all the events, it was easy to see how excited Petersen is for the upcoming 2014-15 season and the prospects of his Mean Green squad. There were a few main points that he made sure hit home with the media, and fans following the action:
1. Everyone is healthy
Four players - Candice Adams, Joh'Vonna Darrington, BreAnna Dawkins and Acheil Tac - missed significant time for North Texas last season. Petersen reiterated that his entire roster is completely clear to play, although they are in different variations of health percentage. The Mean Green have been participating in full practices for two weeks with no setbacks.
2. Competition is also healthy
Right now, all 12 players on the team are basically competing for the starting five. Petersen is ecstatic with how has practices have gone so far, and said he could not pick out a startling lineup if the season began today because there is great competition at every spot. This is especially true at point guard, with Adams, Dawkins and junior college transfer Kasiney Williams pushing each other for minutes.
3. There is a sense of urgency
Petersen has detected something of his three seniors, Darrington, Dawkins and Briesha Wynn: they desperately want to go out on a positive note. Wynn led the team in total scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and minutes played last season, and was one of two players to play in every game. All three seniors are former transfers, but all three have spent at least two years in Denton.
4. The team is athletic and versatile
Now ready to begin his third season at the helm of the North Texas program, Petersen sees in this team what he has seen in successful team over his 21-year head coaching career: athleticism and versatility. Wynn is a prototypical inside-outside player, Tac has improved her game tremendously, and so on and so on. The coach likes the way that all of his players are able to fit in at multiple positions.
5. Finishing games will be key
In 2013-14, 10 of the Mean Green’s 18 losses were by seven points or fewer. Petersen says that closing out games that could go one possession either way has been a focal point in practice. In order to turn a slim lead into a victory, a team must make foul shots, take care of the ball and make good decisions down the stretch. North Texas expects to improve upon its 64.2-percent free throw mark from last year.
5+1. He hates preseason polls
Possibly the most (jokingly) animated Petersen got was when he was prompted about the C-USA preseason poll, in which the Mean Green were picked to finish ninth by the league’s coaches. But even if North Texas was chosen to win with 14 first-place votes, it would not have mattered to Petersen. He is a big advocate that anything can - and will - happen in this league, especially when you have the players to compete.
The Mean Green does not play a regular-season game against UAB, but the team will return to Birmingham for the 2015 Conference USA Championship, which begins March 11.